During an interview on Today with Honda & Jenna, a choked up Oprah came to the defense of her friend backing Gayle’s claim that the network, CBS, threw her under the bus by releasing the salacious clip out of context; which led to King being dragged online and reportedly receiving death threats.
“She is not doing well. May, I say, she is not doing well because, she now has death threats and have to now travel with security. She’s feeling very much attacked,” Oprah said tearfully (see the clip below). “It was only because somebody at the network put up that clip, and I can see how people would obviously be very upset if you thought Gayle was trying to press to get an answer from Lisa Leslie.”
Oprah also revealed that the backlash has led to Gayle losing sleep for the past few days noting that the backlash has turned from being about Kobe Bryant into a very misogynistic and cruel form of cyber bullying—especially after Snoop Dogg called King out of her name before claiming that Bill Cosby should be free.
“I think the vitriol … anybody can criticize anything, but the misogynist vitriol and the attacking to the point where it is dangerous to be in the streets alone because it’s not just the people who are attacking. It’s the people who take that message and feel like they can do whatever they want to because of it,” Winfrey continued. “You try to be there for your friends, but this is very hard.”
Tough indeed. As previously reported on Thursday (Feb. 7) Gayle King tried to counteract some of the backlash by revealing that the clip didn’t reflect the true nature of the interview nor her intent with the round of questioning; but her appeal to the public seemed to fall on deaf ears.
“I’ve been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant, and I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry with me too,” Gayle King said on Instagram. “I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry. Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview — totally taken out of context — and when you see it that way, it’s very jarring. It’s jarring to me. I didn’t even know anything about it.”
Although King has apologized publicly, the comments by celebrities including Snoop Dogg and Lil Duval have had a severe impact on King leading her to be noticeably absent from her show on Thursday due to safety concerns.
Conceding and taking fault, CBS released a statement on Thursday confirming King’s account of the situation and apologizing for placing her in the terrible position to be eviscerated by the public.
“Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant. An excerpt was posted that did not reflect the nature and tone of the full interview. We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made.”
On Saturday (Jan. 25) the documentary, On the Record, was premiered but not before causing a stir. According to the New York Times, creators set the tone for the film by placing a truck outside of the venue where the film was screened with a sign that read “Hold Sexual Abusers Accountable.”
After the screening, the film’s central figure, Drew Dixon, along with two other women from the documentary, Sil Lai Abrams and Sherri Hines, went onstage to a standing ovation and took part in a Q&A along with the directors. The audience — which included the Netflix chairman and chief executive Reed Hastings, the CNN chief Jeff Zucker and the actresses Rosanna Arquette and Frances Fisher — was mostly silent during the screening; but after Dixon appeared on stage noting that the film serves as a wake up call to the plight of Black women in regards to sexual assault, the crowd erupted.
“It’s time to take the plunder of black women seriously,” Dixon said.
The documentary follows Dixon as she weighs whether to take her sexual abuse claims public. Dixon, a 48-year-old former music executive, claims that Simmons raped her in 1995 when she was working for him as a young executive. Simmons has denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex.
On the Record” also delves into the place black women have in the #MeToo movement and the racial dimensions of sexual assault by discussing the culture at the time: misogyny in the music business, both in specifics when it came to hip-hop, and in general terms, pointing out that the rap genre didn’t invent the use of degrading images of women in its music videos.
#MeToo founder Tarana Burke is also a frequent voice, adding commentary about black women’s place in the movement, and their feelings of alienation. “Black women feel like they have to support black men,” she said. One audience member noted that the film, despite being about black women accusing a black man of rape, is directed by two white people.
“A lot of this is about power and ecosystems of power,” Dixon said after the screening. “And all of us have kept our stories to ourselves for decades, and there are people within that ecosystem who knew our stories.”
In addition to premiering at Sundance, the documentary also featured new music from Lauryn Hill. “Damnable Heresies” plays in full over the closing credits to the Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering-directed film.
“This previously unreleased track was specifically chosen by Ms. Hill to appear in the film,” a spokesperson for On the Record told EW, noting that Ms. Lauryn Hill also wrote the song.
While producers are still looking for distribution for the film it has been added to the Park City Utah Film festival and is scheduled to be screened there on Tuesday (Jan. 28) and Feb. 1.
On Tuesday (Jan. 21), Oprah appeared on CBS This Morning with gal pal Gayle King to reveal this month’s book and decided to clear the air regarding her exit as executive producer on the documentary profiling four women who have accused former Def Jam mogul Russell Simmons of rape and sexual assault. While Oprah cites that creative differences were the real reason behind her departure, she made sure to note that it was in no way a win for Simmons.
”This is not a victory for Russell,” Oprah said. “I unequivocally say that I did not pull out because of Russell. This is not a victory lap for him. I cannot be silenced by a Russell Simmons after all I’ve been through.”
Winfrey explained it was “a hard decision” to step away from the film because she knew it could look like she was caving to pressure from Simmons, but that before he pressured her, she had expressed concerns to the filmmakers.
“I had said to them, ‘Houston, I think we have a problem here’ because new information had come forward,” Oprah continued. “I don’t care about awards — I just care about getting it right, and I think there’s some inconsistencies in the stories that we need to look at. I wanted the context of the story to be broadened, I wanted more women brought into the story.”
Although Simmons vehemently denies the allegations against him, his repost of his initial response to the release after the media mogul announced her withdrawal does seemingly attempt to put the emotional squeeze on her by utilizing their relationship as leverage to call her out, while appearing to clear his name.
“Dearest OPRAH, you have been a shining light to my family and my community. Contributing so much to my life that I couldn’t list a fraction of it in this blog.I have given you the gift of meditation and the groundbreaking book ”THE POWER OF NOW “we bonded to say the least,” Simmons wrote. “This is why it’s so troubling that you choose me to single out in your recent documentry. I have already admitted to being a playboy more (appropriately titled today “womanizer”) sleeping with and putting myself in more compromising situations than almost any man I know. Not 8 or 14 thousand like warren Beatty or Wilt Chamberlain, but still an embarrassing number. So many that some could reinterpret or reimagine a different recollection of the same experiences.”
Simmons goes on to state his objection to being publicly tried by highlighting the same reason that Oprah listed as her reason to withdraw—there weren’t enough women to tell their story and multiple facts were either overlooked or ignored.
“Your doc is focused on 3 hand chosen women. I have refused to get in the mud with any accusers, but let’s acknowledge what i have shared. I have taken and passed nine 3-hour lie detector tests (taken for my daughters), that these stories have been passed on by CNN, NBC, BUZZFEED, NY POST, NY MAG, AND OTHERS. Now that you have reviewed the facts and you SHOULD have learned what I know; that these stories are UNUSABLE and that “hurt people hurt people”. “
Simmons also accused producers of the documentary of trying to use past unfaithful behavior and words to his exes against him to make the documentary more salacious.
“I received a call from an old girlfriend from the early 1980s which means that they are using my words/evidence against me and their COMMITMENT/ (all of the claims are 25 to 40 years old),” Simmons said. “It is impossible to prove what happened 40 years ago, but in my case PROOF EXISTS of what didn’t happen, mostly signed letters from their own parents, siblings, roommates, band members, interns, and in the case of 2 of your 3 accusers,their own words in their books. Shocking how many people have misused this important powerful revolution for relevance and money. … In closing, I am guilty of exploiting, supporting, and making the soundtrack for a grossly unequal society, i have even been unconsciously callous , but i have never been violent or forced myself on anyone.”
While Oprah admitted during the interview that the decision to pull away was tough, she states she learned a valuable lesson when it comes to producing projects this sensitive in nature.
“I have lived #MeToo since I was 9 years old, and was raped at 9, sexually assaulted from 9 to 14, and then raped again at 14,” Oprah said. “And nothing is harder than standing up for yourself when you’re 14 and not being believed, and I was not believed by my own family. So I stand in support of these women. I believe them. What this has taught me is, don’t put your name on anything that you do not have creative control over.”
A sentiment she learned from friend and director Ava DuVernay, who states that she received an email to preview the doc; and also confirmed that Oprah was receiving pressure from Simmons to back out.
”It was harsh. She’s got Simmons on one side pressuring her, and then she’s got a film on the other side that she doesn’t agree with,” DuVernay said. “So if she walks away from the film, she seems like she’s caving to Simmons, and if she stays with the film, then she’s putting her name on something that she feels doesn’t quite hit the mark.”
Even though Oprah took time to set the record straight on her reasoning to leave, one things fans noticed she didn’t address was the overwhelming concern that Oprah seemingly exposes Black celebrities for personal gain, while ignoring their white counterparts who are experiencing the same allegations or worse.
“What a joke. So Oprah could pay attention to “inconsistencies” in this instace, but not in Leaving Neverland? That “documentary” was full of lies and proven falsehoods. Yet she still endorsed it,” one Twitter user wrote.
Which is a fair question, over the years Oprah has been called out for her seemingly brazen attitude towards Black celebrities. From her interaction with Toni Braxton when she was overcoming her bankruptcy after a shoddy record deal to her triggering interview with comedienne Monique’s family, after it was requested for her not to do so; Oprah has undeniably done some underhanded things to Black celebrities.
While this does not negate her contributions to Black culture and strides she’s created in entertainment, it is time that we have a real discussion about her love affair with problematic celebrities and her brazen approach to the Black celebrities in their time of need rationally without allowing adoration or lack thereof to get in the way. It’s time that we examine the celebrities the same way we do our friends, if they don’t have our best interest as a whole in mind, maybe we shouldn’t support it.
In a clip posted to her social media, Oprah Winfrey is seen cheering on an all-girl band from her school OWLAG in South Africa. Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls celebrated the success of the 9th graduation class of Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. In a beautiful and soothing musical piece, the girls of OWLAG played for the founder herself—Ms. Winfrey. Always uplifting and teaching girls that they can do anything they work hard for, Oprah posted this video to her Instagram dancing and celebrating the 9th graduating class.
OWLAG was born from a pledge by Ms. Winfrey to former president Nelson Mandela in 2002 to provide a world-class educational platform for girls that will nurture a new generation of dynamic leaders. Inspired by Nelson Mandela’s emphasis on education, the Academy has welcomed talented, underprivileged girls to a new lifestyle; a world filled with knowledge, social skills and possibilities, and is proud to maintain a 100% matric pass rate.
Ms. Winfrey’s vision is that the Leadership Academy will help develop the future leaders of South Africa. A College Fund was established to support and encourage these young leaders, and those that follow, on their continuing journey.
We salute the graduates of OWLAG and wish them success on all their future endeavors.
Here’s a throwback the founder’s very first speech to the first graduating class of OWLAG.
Oprah Winfrey’s OWN airs scripted shows that speak to the multiplicity of experiences in the Black community. From David Makes Man to Queen Sugar to any of the Tyler Perry shows, you can find several economic standings, social backgrounds, and educational levels. The religious soap opera, Greenleaf is no exception. The show is jammed pack with stories that provide peaks behind a mega-churches’ holy veils, critiques the organized institution, humanizes the clergy and their families, while weaving elements of the gospel into it.
The show follows the Greenleaf family, where we have at least three (possibly four) pastors, all trying to figure out their roles in the complicated faith-based community. Infidelity and fraud, emotional trauma and deceit floods the story and this week, even more adds to this sinister pot.
Yet praise God for Grace. No… really….
Pastor Grace Greenleaf (Merle Dandridge) continues to emerge as the beacon of righteousness, trying to clean up all this church mess. Popular and pretty, many are attracted to her as she emerges as the new lead pastor of Calvary. However, Bob Whitmore (Beau Bridges) returns to Memphis to remind her that he is the one in charge of the congregation, pushing his new ideas on her for the flock that her father lead up until last season.
True it is a charming show, with a brilliantly talented cast and production team (executively produced by Michael B. Jordan and Tarell Alvin McCraney). It has the stamp of Queen Mother Oprah Winfrey and has enjoyed critical acclaim… but on a visceral level it is a dangerous series because it is just such a heart-wrenchingly honest show. Episode after episode, it is saturated with truth… someone’s truth.
And that’s why it is possibly one of the most important shows on television this season. This work of art dismantles the narrative of Post-Racial America and puts the dirty laundry of so many of urban America’s story out there for all to see. To put it in a quick soundbite, this series is Hip-Hop.
Now there goes critic one: “There is not music, where are the rappers? How can it be Hip-Hop without rappers?”
The music is in the dialogue. When Chuck D said that “rap music is the CNN of the street,” does David’s character (complete with his Id and Ego) not tell you one of the real stories of growing up poor, Black and male in America? Is the music not in how he navigates being a kid with being damaged by an environment that he has not control over? Shame on anyone that does not see Nas, T.I., XXXTenacion or T-Top in this character.
Then goes critic number two: “How can it be Hip-Hop and there is no floss or fly women, where is the lit lit?”
What is lit is the level of cultural code switching that is evident through the season. It also speaks to the exceptionality of young Black children. They are “despite” brilliant. Despite hardship, abuse (physical, religious, social, economic and sexual) they find ways to make sunshine out of utter darkness, lemonade out of lemons and family tree assignments out of Mary J. Blige’s odes to children born with no fathers.
And alas critic number three: “How is it Hip-Hop when there is no get money scheme?”
And that is part of the issue. Dave Makes Man reminds us to elevate our definition of Hip-Hop from only being a commodity to acknowledging that it is an expression of Humanity. An expression one might add that is vulnerable.
Just check out the next episode on due to drop on Wednesday, Sept. 11th.
Oprah Winfrey made a generous donation towards the Puerto Rico hurricane relief efforts.
The island has yet to fully recover from Hurricane Maria which resulted in thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damages in 2017. As a result, the legendary media maven is donated a total of $2 million dollars. $1 million to Hispanic Federation and another $1 million to the Flamboyan Arts Fund, as per The Oprah Magazine.
“I was so moved by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s commitment to bring ‘Hamilton’ to Puerto Rico and support the community that served him growing up that I wanted to join in the revitalization efforts of an island so rich in culture, beauty, and heritage,” the star said in a statement. “The needs of Puerto Rico and our fellow American citizens following the tragic hurricanes are still very real, and the work that has already been done by the Hispanic Federation, Flamboyan Arts Fund and other organizations on and off the island is long from over.”
At the top of the year, Oprah Winfrey and her bestie, Gayle King traveled to the island to watch the Hamilton play.
Recovery and fundraising efforts has been ongoing since the disaster. Daddy Yankee, Pitbull and Tidal, among others, have lent a helping hand by raising funds or donating out of their own pockets. Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez launched their own fund called, the Puerto Rico Federally Qualified Health Centers Disaster Recovery Fund.
Michelle Obama graces the cover Elle Magazine for the December issue. The former First Lady was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and talks about her marriage, Trump and much more.
With her glowing smile of the cover, the interview she had with Oprah Winfrey has become a must-read for those who are interested with Mrs. Obama’s book. With a new book detailing her journey in Becoming, which is out today, Winfrey gets a head start on discussing what will be inside.
Her spouse, Barack Obama tells Oprah about their marriage about being in love is different no matter what the struggle is and much more. It was an important part of her journey that she is becoming by writing and sharing her story of this book. Make sure you get the memoir that will be out everywhere today.
Oprah also gave a rousing speech in support of Abrams this afternoon.
Oprah: "I'm here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated … for the right, for the equality at the polls. And I want you to know that their blood has seeped into my DNA and I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain." (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/mWMwTjIeok
When Michelle Obama announced her tour that would support her memoir Becoming, it was already a hot ticket. With many seats already purchased, the tour gets even bigger with scheduled appearances from Oprah Winfrey, Tracee Ellis Ross, Reese Witherspoon and more.
The Becoming Tour is billed as “An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama” and the former First Lady of the United States reveals on her Instagram that the conversations will be “with some of my dearest friends, women who have had my back since before anyone knew my name, and trailblazers who make me laugh and inspire me every day.”
The tour will kick off in Mrs. Obama’s hometown of Chicago at the United Center and will hit Los Angeles, DC, Philly, Dallas and more. If you haven’t grabbed a ticket yet, get on that ASAP. Check out everyone who will join the tour with Mrs. Obama below.