Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour: Gayle King

On March 7, 2020, in Denver, Colorado, Oprah and CBS News co-anchor Gayle King discussed their 40-year friendship, persevering through divorce, childrearing, and more. Watch the interview and read the transcript.

Watch Oprah interview Gayle below:

 

Read the full transcript:

 

OPRAH: If I were to share one of the most important aspects in my own wellness, it would be about my next guest. Because we have been friends since—(applause)—honey, we were—I was—yeah, 22. Twenty-one and 22. And we—there was a snowstorm. I was an anchor person. And Gayle was a production assistant in the newsroom. And there was a snowstorm. And she couldn't get home. And I said, oh, you can stay at my house. And the hierarchy in the newsroom is, like, anchors don't talk to production assistants. But we would meet in the bathroom and talk. And so the very first night we spent the entire night up talking. And she said, I never met another black girl like you. And I go, I never met another black girl like you.

And we have literally talked every day of our lives except the one week when her mother passed. It's a 40—more than 40-year friendship. And it's the thing I cherish the most in my life. (Applause.) I could literally start weeping right now because there are few people in the world for whom I wouldn't be who I am. And I know that I didn't have the family that I thought I deserved when I was growing up. And it's only after I met Gayle that I finally found the mother, the sister, and friend in one person that I believe God wanted for me. To me, she's so much more than a visionary. But I'm thrilled that she said yes. At first she's, like, ‘Why? What would I talk about? What are we gonna talk about?’ Denver, please welcome our WW 2020 visionary conversation, Gayle King.

(Video played.)

(Gayle King entrance.)

OPRAH: There's Gayle King.

GAYLE: Oh.

OPRAH: All right.

GAYLE: Hi.

OPRAH: All right. How many of you—how many of you in the house brought your own Gayle?

(Applause.)

GAYLE: That is so great. I say how many of you brought your own Oprah? (Applause.)

GAYLE: This is so fun because I said to Oprah yesterday, ‘Oprah, do you think people will still come?’ And, look, you came. You came.

OPRAH: Are you—listen, everybody got their hand sanitizers and they are—they are here.

GAYLE: You came.

OPRAH: So when I was going through the list of names on deciding who would be the very last visionary interview on this tour, I knew it had to be you for two reasons. First, you are—

GAYLE: And I was worried.

OPRAH: You were worried. You're the most well person I know. I don't know anybody more well than you. You don't get enough sleep, but you are so well in spirit. And I've never actually interviewed you like this before. Are you nervous?

GAYLE: This is my happy face. My favorite son and favorite daughter are here in the audience. And I said, ‘Guys, I'm so nervous.’ And they said, ‘Just think of it as a conversation with Auntie O.’ And I'm trying to think of it that way, but I am nervous, yeah, I am.

OPRAH: Why?

GAYLE: And I'm surprised—I have to say that I am nervous talking to you about anything.

OPRAH: We talk about everything.

GAYLE: We talk about everything. Yes.

OPRAH: Everything. So—so Gayle and I were talking last week about what we wanted this conversation to feel like, and Gayle said, ‘You have to show that video of you picking me up at the airport and giving Kirby an a horseback ride.’ This is Kirby—

GAYLE: Kirby's now 33.

OPRAH: This is when Kirby was nine months or something?

GAYLE: Yeah, she wasn't even a year yet.

OPRAH: So why did you want us to show this?

GAYLE: Because it's the first and last time Oprah picked somebody up at the airport. (Laughter.) That was back in the day, guys, when you could actually meet people at the gate. She drove—she drove herself. And certainly the last time that she's given anybody a horsey— a horsey ride. So I thought that was fun. And there's Stedman cooking in the kitchen.

OPRAH: Oh, yeah, I remember that.

GAYLE: But look at us. Look at that. (Laughter.) Oprah, do you even remember that?

OPRAH: I do remember it because it is the last time I've given anyone a piggyback ride, yes.

GAYLE: I thought that was fun.

OPRAH: When you look at that video now, did you ever imagine that we'd be sitting here talking in front of thousands of people in Denver 35 years later?

GAYLE: Absolutely not. I never imagined that you would be doing what you're doing. You know, when your career first started taking off, and to see—I remember you had an interview with Larry King. And I said to Oprah you were the first half hour and the second halfhour. You go I'm the whole hour. He only does that for really big people. So to see how it's happened for us both to be sitting here 35 years later? No. I couldn't ever.

OPRAH: The first time I went speaking, remember that? I think it was Racine, Wisconsin.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: Gayle was with me. And so we're driving into the arena.

GAYLE: There was a police escort.

OPRAH: And Gayle's, like, who's coming? (Laughter.)

GAYLE: And she said, ‘me’. I go, when you go to speak, this is what happens when you go to speak? I said, what do you talk about?

OPRAH: What are you saying? And here we are. All these years later.

GAYLE: You're still talking. Still talking.

OPRAH: I just said to the audience I got a little teary thinking about our friendship. Because I don't think about it a lot. It's not that I take it for granted. But it's also—it just so is.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: It just so is a part of our life. I was sharing with the audience that we've talked every day except for that one week—

GAYLE: When my mom died?

OPRAH: —when your mom died.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: This is how nice Gayle is. Remember I told you Gayle's so nice? Gayle is so nice that on the day her mother died, I was having a dinner at my house with Denzel Washington.

GAYLE: Denzel Washington, yeah.

OPRAH: And—and Gayle's mother passed away. And it wasn't until like 10:00 at night she called me and said is Denzel gone?

GAYLE: I said, yeah.

OPRAH: And she said, I lost my anchor today.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: And I said, ‘What does that mean?’ She said, ‘My mother passed away.’ I go ‘Why didn't you call me?’ She goes, ‘I didn't want to mess up the dinner with Denzel.’

GAYLE: I didn't.

OPRAH: That is so nice.

GAYLE: I wasn't even thinking about—because I know you were looking forward to that dinner. And you know if somebody calls and you have to have a reaction, then you have to go back and say, ‘Oh, Gayle just called, da, da, da, da, da.’ There's nothing anybody can do about it, so I thought I would just wait, yeah.

OPRAH: So I was saying to the audience, too, that all these years I've had therapy in front of the camera and I never needed therapy because I had you as my friend. Because you realize all those years I was coming home, I was downloading, downloading, downloading.

GAYLE: Yeah. But, you know, I never thought of it like that. I just know that—and we have talked about everything and nothing. That's the thing people say, ‘What do you guys talk about?’ We can honestly go off the phone and go, what? You've never had therapy, but I've been to five therapists when I was married. And may I just say this? Nobody has been a better therapist than Oprah in terms of the advice. As someone who's never been married, who's never been a parent, nobody's been—nobody's been a better therapist. So I think it's good that we can do that for each other, because you have certainly done that for me.

OPRAH: Well, this is interesting. I was just—you know, I had to prepare for this interview. So I was reading up on—

GAYLE: You had to prepare?

OPRAH: Yeah, well, my—the producers—

GAYLE: For this interview?

OPRAH: Yes, I did. And—I wanted to prepare to see if there was something I hadn't heard or didn't know.

GAYLE: And there was something.

OPRAH: Yes, there was something.

GAYLE: No, there wasn't.

OPRAH: The producers told me last night—

GAYLE: That?

OPRAH: That when you got divorced—and so Gayle went through a divorce—

GAYLE: Yeah. They were four and five. Yeah.

OPRAH: In 1994.

GAYLE: No.

OPRAH: Yes. I felt like I went through the divorce.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: And at one point she was going to get back together with her husband and I said, please do. Because I feel like I have been dragged through this divorce.

GAYLE: So you know when you have a friend and you tell every little niggly detail.

OPRAH: Niggly piggly wiggly detail.

GAYLE: Yes, I did. And she kept saying to me, you shouldn't. It's a mistake. It's a mistake. Finally she said, ‘Please get back with him. And I will send a moving truck.’ And I said to her, ‘Well, you don't understand because you don't have children.’ He was on his knees and he was crying. And she said, ‘Mm-hmm. That doesn't mean anything.’ I go, ‘You just don't understand.’ So she said, ‘Please get back with him.’

OPRAH: And I said—

GAYLE: And I did.

OPRAH: I said get back with him and it's not gonna—it will not last.

GAYLE: And I thought that was mean. (Laughter.) I thought that was mean. It's not gonna last because I was going in feeling optimistic about it.

OPRAH: This is what I didn't know. I read this last night. That when you divorced, you told Kirby and Will—

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: —that their father was at another house looking for a burglar.

GAYLE: Yes. No, what had happened was—(laughter)—what had happened was we had moved into one house and another and I did say that ‘Daddy has to go into the other house because there's a burglar. And daddy's gonna help catch the burglar. So he's not gonna be here for a while.’ And then—then Will said to me later, three weeks later, ‘Has daddy caught the burglar yet?’ I go, ‘No, he's still trying. He's still trying.’ Because I couldn't bring myself to tell them that we were getting a divorce. Now, I have to say, I'm surprised that you said that you had never heard that story. Because, Oprah, at the time you said, ‘That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard.’

OPRAH: (Laughter.)

GAYLE: Doesn't that sound like you?

OPRAH: It does sound like me.

GAYLE: It does sound like you.

OPRAH: It's so stupid I forgot it.

GAYLE: You said that's the stupidest thing I ever heard.

OPRAH: Because when I heard—when I heard this I'm like that doesn't even—

GAYLE: Maybe it was so stupid you forgot. I mean, looking at it now, I know, it is funny, guys, when you hear it. I'm embarrassed to tell you that that was the story. Because after watching The Oprah Show all these years, they say you should just tell the kids the truth. But tell them in layers—in levels that they can understand. But at the time, I don't know, we just thought that was a good story to tell. It was stupid, I know. I learned from The Oprah Show

OPRAH: This is what I know—Gayle watched every single Oprah Show. Sometimes she would—we tell each other the truth all the time. I remember one day I was in the middle of a meeting. I get a phone call—

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: And they said, it's Gayle. It's an emergency. She wants to talk to you.

GAYLE: Yes. I know what you're gonna say. Go ahead.

OPRAH: I get to the phone.

GAYLE: Go ahead.

OPRAH: I get to the phone and I say, ‘What happened?’ And you say?

GAYLE: I said ‘I have a black eye because your boobs are hanging out and hit me—it hit me on the TV. Your boobs are hanging out. I have a black eye.’ What are you wearing? (Laughter.)

OPRAH: Yes. And I—

GAYLE: There was another one—

OPRAH: —said I interrupted my meeting to get to the phone for you to tell me that my boob hit you in the eye?

GAYLE: There was another one.

OPRAH: I know I've got big breasteses.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: Good gracious.

GAYLE: Yes. Breasteses. You got 'em. There was another time you had done Elizabeth Taylor and your hair, you were—it was sticking up and everybody was saying, ‘Oh, it looks so good. It looks so good.’ I go, ‘It looks like you put your hand in a socket. I don't know why people are telling you that. Because I just don't think it looks so great. But, you know, do what you want to do.’ Which is what she does.

OPRAH: Oh, God. And you know what, may I just say, I don't think I've ever said to you, you were right about that Elizabeth Taylor photo.

GAYLE: You've never said that.

OPRAH: I never—

GAYLE: Because you have said—you said, ‘I think it looks good. It's called fashion.’ That's what you told me. She said, ‘I think it's good to change your hairdo as opposed to wearing the same hairdo every day like you do.’

OPRAH: Yeah. So this is what happened. You know, it's kind of like—

GAYLE: You've never said that. That's true.

OPRAH: Yeah, I just said it in front of 15,000 people. Thank you, Denver.

GAYLE: Thank you.

OPRAH: You were right. You were right. The photo of me with Elizabeth Taylor, you can Google it, I'm wearing a pink satin shirt.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: And I'm wearing like—I'm so proud of my little diamond necklace and my little earrings and I look like I put my finger in a socket.

GAYLE: Yes. Everybody was saying, ‘Oh, it looks so pretty.’

OPRAH: Yes. But, you know, the truth is, I've said the same thing to you about your necklaces.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: You have been known to wear a few necklaces at a time.

GAYLE: Again, I think—I try not to wear necklaces and it doesn't look like a Mr. T starter kit. But I think it's called accessorizing. That's what I think.

OPRAH: Yeah. I'm not a necklace—

GAYLE: Somebody asked me to do a necklace line. I can't do it because I'm on the news. But somebody likes it. I just think it's called accessorizing. Oprah's not a fan.

OPRAH: You watch her every morning and you see those big necklaces—

GAYLE: You're the one. Thank you.

OPRAH: So the thing that I admire and respect the most about you is the way you handled, number one, your divorce. Aside from that lie you told your children. (Laughter) The way you handled the divorce. Because it was one of those moments where you were taken by surprise.

GAYLE: It's called infidelity.

OPRAH: Yes.

GAYLE: Caught in your home. Never good.

OPRAH: Yes. That's what I said, too. No, it was so bad that Gayle called me the night that she'd come home with the children, came home early, and hadn't given a warning, and—

GAYLE: This was in the days before—remember when you didn't have cell phones and you would drive yourself to the airport and the airline used to call you and say ‘Your flight is cancelled, but we can get you on a flight if you leave right now.’ Remember those days? So I threw the kids in the car. We rushed to the airport. I came home a day—actually, a day early. He was not expecting—he was not expecting to see me, and I wasn't expecting to see her. Yeah. Yeah.

OPRAH: No.

GAYLE: I did call you.

OPRAH: So, guys—so he leaves—so Gayle calls me and she says, ‘Is Stedman in the room?’

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: I said, ‘Yeah.’

GAYLE: She goes, ‘Tell him to leave the room. I don't want him to hear this.’

OPRAH: So Stedman goes into the bathroom.

GAYLE: No, it's funny. Oprah says, ‘I don't know what this is about. But Gayle wants you to leave the room.’ Number one, who does that? But I thought—I didn't want—I said, ‘Listen, you can tell him later.’ But I didn't want him to hear it in pieces.

OPRAH: Yeah, because she had just walked in on the—

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: —on the couple. And at that moment, I said, ‘You don't even know how bad this is because your husband had left to take the mistress to the—to the train station.’

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: And I said, ‘Oh, this is worse than you can ever imagine.’

GAYLE: Yep. She was married and they were friends. They were friends of ours.

OPRAH: Which is always—

GAYLE: I hate that word mistress.

OPRAH: Well, what would you like—

GAYLE: I know that's what it was. I know that's what it was. So you know when they say the wife always knows? The wife always suspects? I tell you, I really—you know this. I had no clue. No clue whatsoever.

OPRAH: Oh, I did.

GAYLE: No, you didn't.

OPRAH: I did have a clue. Remember that time—

GAYLE: What was the clue?

OPRAH: The clue was when—the clue was when I was at your house and the phone rang—

GAYLE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

OPRAH: Wasn't that a clue?

GAYLE: That was good. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I forgot about that. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

OPRAH: The phone rang and the woman on the other end asked to speak to her husband. And I happened to answer the phone.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: And when her husband gets to the phone, he says, ‘There's nobody there.’ Now, I ain't stupid. Somebody was there.

GAYLE: And asked to speak to him.

OPRAH: And asked to speak to him in a very nice voice, too.

GAYLE: Which was a bold move when you think about it. Because she knew Oprah was there. She knew Oprah was there.

OPRAH: Yeah.

GAYLE: So that's just sort of a—

OPRAH: Here's the thing. That's that whisper thing I'm telling you about. That whisper. Anybody in here want to admit you had a situation like that? You don't have to raise your hand. Yes. We're a big group. Go ahead. Raise it up. We're a big group. All right. So here's the deal. Anybody who has been betrayed, when you go back and you think about that moment of betrayal, there's always a whisper moment.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: And you were telling—

GAYLE: I do see that now.

OPRAH: You do see it now.

GAYLE: I do see it now, but at the time I didn't. I mean, that's why that whisper metaphor—did you talk about that today?

OPRAH: Yes, I did.

GAYLE: That's why that's so important and why it's so true. Because you said if you ignore the whispers—

OPRAH: Yes.

GAYLE: Then you get a brick wall and a catastrophe.

OPRAH: Yes.

GAYLE: Which is right. Because if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, it would have been explained away. Oh, and they were—they were both nude, by the way. So I even had to see that. But if they had been sitting there fully clothed, they just could have said, ‘Well, we were talking about whatever, whatever, whatever.’ Because she was a friend of mine. And ‘We were discussing something, something, something.’ So I did have—it did have to be that graphic. That's absolutely true.

OPRAH: Yeah.

GAYLE: So I pay attention to all whispers at all times.

OPRAH: So we're getting to the point where I think—it was a terrible moment. And anybody who's ever been betrayed that way in your own home, you know how that destroys your spirit. How it shatters you when somebody—so if anybody's gonna cheat, don't bring the person to your house. That is the least—that is the most disrespectful thing you can do. But in spite of that—

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: —you were the kind of mother who never said anything negative around your children.

GAYLE: No. No.

OPRAH: Who wanted their father to still be engaged in their life.

GAYLE: Very much so.

OPRAH: And made it possible for him to still be in their lives.

GAYLE: Yes. Yes.

OPRAH: Why?

GAYLE: Because I think you have to love your children more than you're mad at him. And it also—it also, you would say, nobody wants to hear, you know what he did to me? Really, nobody cares about that. Nobody really cares except your closest friends, and even they get tired of hearing it. But you have to love your children more than—as much as you dislike him and are really very angry at him, you have to figure out a way to, you know, navigate that. And I'm happy to say, knock on wood, that we can actually, you know, be friends and have a civil conversation. We can actually do that. You know they are now 32 and 33 so they're potty trained and employed. So that's good. But when they were growing up, you had to figure out a way that you could be civil and cordial. And we were able to do that. I'm very proud of that, actually.

OPRAH: Do you think you would still be—I was saying to the audience earlier that if you have anybody in your life who is not happy for your happiness, that person ends up sucking your energy.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: That can also be spouses. So I ask you this question: Do you think you would be where you are in your life, in your world, in your career if you had remained married?

GAYLE: I can say 150 percent absolutely not. Because—this was a very smart guy. Yale-educated lawyer. Former cop. Really smart. Very good looking. All the good things. But for whatever reason, you know, being married to me was difficult for him. And I can remember very clearly a conversation when he said, ‘I'll be glad when this Gayle King shit is over.’ And I thought, God, I want somebody to kind of like this Gayle King shit. So when you think of that, when you think of that, no, I mean, I can remember—whatever that is. Whatever that is. And, guys, listen. I was just a local TV news anchor. It's not like I was a big person. It wasn't that. But you want somebody, whatever you're doing, to celebrate your success, whatever that is. And so I found myself turning down things with you. Turning down going to different places because I knew that that would be upsetting to him. And you want somebody who sort of cheers you on in whatever that is.

OPRAH: Yeah, I was talking earlier about playing yourself small.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: You were playing yourself small.

GAYLE: I definitely did that.

OPRAH: So when I watch you in the morning and I see you there with your many necklaces. I say to myself—

GAYLE: I like my necklaces. I don't care what you say.

OPRAH: I know. Because nothing I've said decreased the amount you wear.

GAYLE: Sometimes I'll put on two extras and I go, ‘Oprah's gonna like this.’

OPRAH: But often when I see you sitting here, I think about your journey. First of all, when Gayle and I first met, as I shared a few moments ago, she was working in the newsroom. I was working in the newsroom. We'd both been in news for the same amount of time.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: And I think all those years as my bestie, people thought, oh, you were just a friend but didn't realize you were actually working.

GAYLE: No, I've worked—you know, I've worked for a very long time. And I've done some really important stories.

OPRAH: Let's start with the beginning. Don't we have the tape of Gayle in her early career? Do we have that? Let's pull that up there.

(Video played.)

OPRAH: Who did your hair that day?

GAYLE: Me. Me.

OPRAH: It is a wonder—

GAYLE: I did that.

OPRAH: —you were able—it's a wonder you were able to move up the ladder of success.

GAYLE: Oh, and you know the thing about it is, you think you look cute, too. Then you go back and look at it and go, yikes. But it says something, though, Oprah about you. Because we're 21 and 22. I don't know if Oprah told you. I was a production assistant, which is an entry level position. She's a news anchor which is the highest you can be in local TV. So I'm here and she's here. But with the snowstorm and you said let's spend the night together—let's spend the night. Not together. But you can spend the night at my house.

OPRAH: Please correct that.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: I mean, that's why we've had those rumors all these years.

GAYLE: Yes. No, because there was a snowstorm and I said, ‘Yeah, but I don't have any clothes.’ And Oprah said, ‘You can borrow my clothes.’ We were size 10 then. And I said, ‘I don't have a toothbrush.’ ‘We can buy a toothbrush.’ And she said, ‘I have underwear and it's clean.’ And so I said—there was a headline in a tabloid and it said, "The night I wore Oprah's underwear." That's how it started where people think—

OPRAH: There's that.

GAYLE: But, I mean, it just says something to you—it just says something about you that, a), you would even invite me to spend the night at your house. Because it's not like we really knew each other.

OPRAH: No. We did tell them that we stayed up all night like. I'm like, ‘I never met another black girl like you.’

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: I never met another black girl like you. So, guys, right after that, I was making $22,000—I was 22 making $22,000 in Baltimore.

GAYLE: I was making $12,500.

OPRAH: And Gayle was, like, ‘Imagine when you're 30 and you're making 30 and when you're 40 and making 40.’

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: And so—

GAYLE: And now you're at 66 making a gazillion. Whoa. That's good.

OPRAH: But this a funny thing. This is a funny thing. So right after that, shortly after that, I don't know if it was the next day or when, I was going—remember there was this place that used to be called Casual Corner?

GAYLE: Yes. Yes.

OPRAH: Casual Corner. And they used to do like these $19.99—

GAYLE: Yes. Get two, yes.

OPRAH: —and you get one for $9.99 for $19.99. And I bought two sweaters that day.

GAYLE: I called my mother. I said, ‘Mom, my friend Oprah just bought two sweaters at Casual Corner.’ I had one on layaway. But I was, like, wow, she bought two.

OPRAH: So here's the thing.

GAYLE: I thought that was so cool.

OPRAH: Gayle was so excited for me. This is what I'm talking about, having friends who are happy for your happiness. Gayle was so excited about the two sweaters at Casual Corner when I was 22. Years later, fast forward, we're in Fisher Island.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: It's my 42nd birthday. I say, okay, I'm gonna do something for my birthday. I'm gonna go to the mall. I'm gonna buy myself a watch. Okay? We're on the way to the mall.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: And we pass a car dealership and I see this beautiful car. I don't even know what it is.

GAYLE: A Bentley. Convertible.

OPRAH: I didn't know what it was at the time.

GAYLE: I remember. Okay.

OPRAH: But—I didn't know that it was a Bentley. So we pull over. And I decide I'm gonna buy that Bentley on the spot. And Gayle is trying to negotiate with the guy.

GAYLE: You know how they take you in the room—

OPRAH: So Gayle goes, ‘Are you gonna go to the little—?’

 GAYLE: —to have a little conversation.

OPRAH: —room in the back? I go, ‘No. I'm gonna write a check and he's gonna take the check and I'm gonna walk out.’

GAYLE: I said, you have to negotiate.

OPRAH: So there was no negotiation.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: It was a—it was a convertible Bentley.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: And I drove it off the lot. And even though it was raining—

GAYLE: We had the top down.

OPRAH: I go, ‘We gonna ride in this Bentley today.’

GAYLE: And then we couldn't get the top back up.

OPRAH: Yeah. Yes. Gayle is like, ‘Oh, my God.’ What reminded me of it is that we had the same moment buying the Bentley as we did the sweaters. Because Gayle is like—

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: —‘You're just gonna buy it? Just, like, today?’

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: ‘You're not gonna put it on—?’

GAYLE: Take 'em both home?

OPRAH: Yes.

GAYLE: Yeah. It's true. It's true.

OPRAH: So the other thing that I admire the most about you is the way that you raised your children. And I would have to say that when we first became friends and were talking every day, every day, every day, you got married, I was in the wedding.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: You had children. I thought that our friendship would change after the children.

GAYLE: Why did you think that?

OPRAH: Because children take up time.

GAYLE: They do. They do.

OPRAH: And actually, for Gayle, the first real gift I ever gave was a nanny. And I got her a nanny. But she only wanted the nanny to do certain things. So she would leave the news in Hartford, go home and put her children to bed because she wanted her face to be the last face her children saw.

GAYLE: Well, because Oprah said, ‘Gayle, the reason why you have a nanny is so that you can sleep.’ I go, ‘I don't want the nanny to put my children to bed. I don't want that. I want the nanny to be able to help me.’ But I did think I wanted the kids—my face would be the first and the last that they see. And she said, ‘Well, doesn't that defeat the purpose of having a nanny?’ I go, ‘No, it's very helpful during the daytime.’ But that wasn't—I just didn't want—I was very appreciative. But I didn't—I didn't want the nanny to be, like, a second mother. I didn't want that. I wanted it to be very clear you are you and I am me. And we had very specific lines.

OPRAH: Yeah.

GAYLE: That mattered to me.

OPRAH: So the way you raised your children—so I thought that our friendship would—would wane a little bit after that.

GAYLE: No.

OPRAH: But what happened is—what still happens to this day, and it happened again this morning.

GAYLE: What?

OPRAH: There's a moment that—Toni Morrison was on the show. Those of you who watched that show. Where Toni Morrison said she was raising her children and she was a single parent and she realized that every time her sons would come into the room she'd say, ‘Pull up your pants. Comb your hair.’

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: ‘Button your shirt. What you doing? Dirt is on your—dirt's on your collar. What are you doing?’ And one day her son said, mom, ‘Every time you see me, you see something wrong.’ And she realized that what your kids really want is to know that when they walk into the room, do your eyes light up when I enter the room?

GAYLE: Yes. Yes.

OPRAH: Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do I mean something to you? And so I can honestly say that Gayle King has done that with her kids since they were teeny, teeny, teeny little tiny, since they could talk. We'd be on the phone talking and she'd say, ‘I'm on the phone with Auntie O.’ But she would put the phone down and go, ‘Morning, Kirby Katie, morning, Willser. Morning.’ And this morning I was in the gym, I was walking out of the gym.

GAYLE: Oh, and Kirby came. Yes.

OPRAH: Kirby was coming in the gym and you went, ‘Morning, Kirby’. I'm, like, ‘Didn't you just see the child?’

GAYLE: Kirby is 33.

OPRAH: The girl is 33. You're still acting like she's 10.

GAYLE: No, no, no. This was funny. I was on the phone talking to Oprah once and Will was eight at the time. And Will came and said, ‘Mom, could you please run my bath water?’ And I said to ‘Oprah, hold on a second I have to go run Bill's bath water—Will's bath water.’ And she—goes, ‘Doesn't a boy know the difference between hot and cold?’

OPRAH: That's what I said.

GAYLE: ‘Can't he run it? He's eight. You run his bath water?’ I went, ‘Oh, yeah, Will, go run your bath water.’ You know as a mother you know you're so used to cutting up food? There's Will and Kirby. You know as a mother you're used to cutting up their food or you're used to doing stuff for—     

OPRAH: I go, ‘The boy's 10.’

GAYLE: He was about 10, yeah.

OPRAH: He can read. Here's the thing, Gayle. I was sharing with the audience today my great lesson of parents learning when they are managers and when they are no longer managers to become consultants. Have you accepted the fact that you are now—

GAYLE: I don't hear you. (Laughter.) I'm supposed to be a what now?

OPRAH: Have you accepted the fact that you are now a consultant?

GAYLE: Yes. It's difficult. You know—

OPRAH: What would Kirby say? What would Kirby say?

GAYLE: I'm scared to ask. And there's no need to ask them what they would say. Where are they? Okay, I—I could work on that. I could work—I will say I could work on that. I could work on that.

OPRAH: Because you're still trying to manage—

GAYLE: Thank you for pointing it out.

OPRAH: Managing things.

GAYLE: No, I'm not trying to manage things. But I do like to know what's going on. Yes, I do. I do. Is that a bad thing? I want to know what's going on. Yes, I do. Yes.

OPRAH: So—

GAYLE: I'm working on that.

OPRAH: —I would say—the compliment that I was saying to you about raising your kids is that no matter what was going on in her life, in my life, even just on the phone, she acknowledged the presence of her children. So that thing that Mr. Rogers says that the greatest gift that you can give to your children is your presence, you have actually done that.

GAYLE: It's true.

OPRAH: And now you have these two great kids.

GAYLE: I do think they're great.

OPRAH: Who still love to vacation with their mom.

GAYLE: I know. Oprah said to me—

OPRAH: You guys actually never went through—okay, you guys never went through any kind of terrible teens.

GAYLE: Nope. I didn't go through terrible teens. I didn't go through terrible twos. Because I don't think that that's an inevitable thing that has to happen. I think I had very clear boundaries. It was not a democracy. I was definitely in charge. I wanted to hear your opinion. But at the end of the day, I would make a mommy decision. But I wanted to hear their opinion.

OPRAH: And we called it a mommy decision.

GAYLE: I called it a mommy decision. But I wanted them to weigh in. I didn't think I was—I didn't think I was strict. Did you think I was strict?

OPRAH: Well—

GAYLE: No. I was not.

OPRAH: I don't think you were strict. I don't think you were strict. Not strict.

GAYLE: Take that back, Oprah.

OPRAH: I didn't say strict. I said well.

GAYLE: Oh. You went, ‘Well.’

OPRAH: I said well.

GAYLE: But that implies that you thought I was strict.

OPRAH: No, I thought that—well, you know that one time I thought you went too far.

GAYLE: Oh, God.

OPRAH: I thought you went way too far. I thought you went too far.

GAYLE: I don't know what you talking about, Willis. I don't know what you talking about.

OPRAH: There was a time, Kirby, prepare yourself, there was a time where Kirby—(laughter)—where Kirby had stayed out later than she should.

GAYLE: Kirby had a curfew at midnight. Midnight she was not home. Yes.

OPRAH: Yes. Okay. And so you wake Will up.

GAYLE: Yeah, and say, ‘Where is Kirby?’ Yes.

OPRAH: And finally Kirby called. And it's early in the morning.

GAYLE: Yes. It was, like, 4:00 a.m. Yes. She was in high school. Yes.

OPRAH: Four a.m. So by this time you're really upset.

GAYLE: Oh, I was about to call the police.

OPRAH: Yes.

GAYLE: I was about to call the police. Because I kept calling. No answer. Calling. No answer. She comes in and I'm sitting there on the steps. Which, by the way, never a good sign when your parents are sitting on the front steps when you open the door. She had fallen asleep in the park with a guy, with a boy she was dating. They had fallen asleep.

OPRAH: Kirby.

GAYLE: And so, yes, I did have some things to say about that.

OPRAH: Okay. So, guys, I thought—so this was like one of Kirby's first dates. Okay?

GAYLE: All the more reason why I was upset.

OPRAH: Okay. One of the first dates. And she was very sorry. And she was very apologetic. So I thought that was enough. That she was sorry and apologetic.

GAYLE: No. No. No. No.

OPRAH: Excuse, y'all. Let me finish the story. (Laughter.)

GAYLE: They know, Oprah. They know.

OPRAH: I thought it was enough she was—she was a—very sorry.

GAYLE: And she's very responsible. That's what was not like her. Which is why I was worried.

OPRAH: And so I said, ‘Okay, give her a time-out kind of situation. Give her a punishment.’ So Gayle's idea of fixing the situation, which I thought went too far, was to go to the boy's home—

GAYLE: No, I called the parents. I called the parents.

OPRAH: No. You went to the boy's home, Gayle.

GAYLE: I asked for a meeting. No, I asked for a meeting. And we had a meeting at the church.

OPRAH: With the boy.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: With the boy.

GAYLE: With the parents. With the parents.

OPRAH: And Kirby. And I'm, like, that is, like, ‘Oh, she's gonna hate you’. She goes, ‘Hate me? No, she's not gonna hate me.’

GAYLE: No. I wanted us all to be in the same room. And I said, listen.

OPRAH: Is that too far?

GAYLE: No. No. No.

OPRAH: A lot of managers in this room. (Laughter.) A lot of managing.

GAYLE: No, and my message to them, and I wanted us all to hear it at the same time, was, ‘Listen. I am not blaming your son for this because Kirby is old enough to take responsibility for her actions. So I'm not blaming your son. But what I do know is that my daughter would have never done that. She would have never have behaved that way. So I'm asking you to support me. I don't want them to continue to see each other. Because I think this is going in a very bad path.’ May I just say, may I just say that he has now done some jail time. That's all I'm saying. So clearly, clearly, I saw something. That's all I have to say about it. It might have been extreme, but I was—I don't regret that at all. I don't regret that at all. And I said to Oprah, you don't have children. You don't understand.

OPRAH: Yes. And Kirby—Kirby got over it. You know, Gayle raised her children in such a beautiful way that, you know, they were never hit or spanked or—I remember we were doing an Oprah Show and we were talking about not beating your kids. Why you shouldn't beat your kids. And some woman said, ‘How you—how you gonna have good kids if you don't beat them?’

GAYLE: No.

OPRAH: But Gayle's children were raised and they were never, you know, even yelled at. So that early on—

GAYLE: They might have been yelled at but they didn't—

OPRAH: No, no, they weren't yelled at. Because when Will came to my house remember that time I had those really expensive Shaker boxes? And he was a little boy and he was playing with my expensive antique Shaker boxes like it was Play-Doh.

GAYLE: Well, you did yell then.

OPRAH: And I said, ‘Would you put that down?’

GAYLE: Just like that.

OPRAH: And he said—he went to Gayle and said ‘Auntie O is mean.’

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: Can we go home?

GAYLE: Yeah. Yeah.

OPRAH: Anyway, I know that Kirby and Will, we all know that they're adult now. Are you able to say to yourself, ‘Good job’?

GAYLE: I'm very proud of them. I will just say that. I'm very, very proud of them. Very proud of them.

OPRAH: Special mommy hug.

GAYLE: Yeah, I am.

OPRAH: Let's talk about the special career moment that you're having right now.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: So—

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: —do you know that—

GAYLE: Who would have thought it?

OPRAH: Gayle was working with the struggling OWN network. That's when I was going through every story about my network, the struggling OWN network, and Gayle was working doing a show—

GAYLE: On OWN, yeah.

OPRAH: On OWN. And she got the call to go to CBS. And she goes, I can't do it. Because if I leave everybody's gonna say even your best friend has abandoned you. And I said, you have to. You have to do it.

GAYLE: But I wouldn't have done it, though. If you hadn't said—and I just said I don't want the headline to say—because the reviews were terrible. Everybody was bashing you and taking you down. And I said I don't want a headline that says even her best friend is abandoning a sinking ship. And CBS and I were talking. They hadn't offered it to me yet but it looked like they might. And I said if they offer it to me, I don't want to take it because I don't want it to be another black mark against you. And Oprah said, OWN is gonna be what OWN is gonna be. You love the news and if they offer it to you, you better take it. Which I think speaks to her as well that she was saying, you know—

OPRAH: I told you to take it.

GAYLE: But I wasn't gonna take it. You know that.

OPRAH: So you just turned 65—

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: —and—

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: —and you feel like—and I feel like there's a surge that happened. So this is what's unbelievable. Gayle was in the middle of contract negotiations when the R. Kelly interview happened. Y'all know about that? The R. Kelly interview. And—let's take a look at that for a sec. This moment. The ‘Robert. Robert.’

(Video played.)

OPRAH: No, you kept repeating Robert. And a lot of people asked, were you afraid. Were you?

GAYLE: I wasn't afraid because I didn't really—

OPRAH: There was a moment just then where your eyes blinked. You're, like, what is going on? What is happening with this Negro man?

GAYLE: Well, it did go from 0 to 110 quickly.

OPRAH: Yeah.

GAYLE: I honestly thought he was having a—I don't want to say a breakdown. People said he was faking. He was not faking.

OPRAH: That was not faking.

GAYLE: He absolutely was not faking. But I'd seen previous interviews. And I had my questions on my lap. And I thought if I went up to him or tried to stop him or started hollering, he would leave. And I'd seen previous interviews where he would leave the room when he was angry. So I was just thinking, if I sit here quietly, look at him, look at the chair, look at him, look at the chair, and say his name, that he would know, I'm not going anywhere. And it was my way of trying to calm him down. But in the middle of, you know, hitting his hand and hitting his hand and spit was flying and at one point spit fell on my lip like this. And he just—and I didn't even want to make a move. It just sat there like that. It just sat there. You're hoping in situations like that where someone's talking to you and you don't even want to wipe your face like that, but, you know, he said to me later—he thanked me later actually—

OPRAH: Really?

GAYLE: Yeah, he did. I thought he'd be angry. But he said I want to thank you for letting people see my passion and my pain. That was the first time he had talked after that documentary. And I didn't really know R. Kelly. I didn't know him. But I thought that was a career-changing moment for me.

OPRAH: No question. You did that interview. You interviewed members of the Jackson family.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: You interviewed the—

GAYLE: The Governor of Virginia

OPRAH: The Governor of Virginia.

GAYLE: Going through the black face controversy.

OPRAH: All at the same time.

GAYLE: All at the same time, yeah.

OPRAH: And you were saying, I can't even believe this was happening. And I was saying, that's how Jesus shows up.

GAYLE: Oprah said—I said, in the middle of all of my contract negotiations, all these big interviews are happening. She goes, that's called Jesus. That's what that's called. That's what it looks like.

OPRAH: So a couple weeks ago, you all might have heard Gayle was disparaged, trolled, attacked—

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: —it was a very challenging time. Hard to—for me as a friend who's a part of that trolling to watch and to watch you go through it. What did you learn from all of that? I thought that was a big pull-up for you. That was a big pull-up moment.

GAYLE: What do you mean?

OPRAH: Meaning it took you by surprise.

GAYLE: No, it rocked me, Oprah. It didn't just take me by surprise. When you say pull-up, what do you mean by that?

OPRAH: It pulled you up into a different part of yourself so now you understand things differently.

GAYLE: Oh, that's very true. I thought pull-up means it made you see da, da, da, da, da. But I don't know, it just—it just made me see that help comes from unexpected places. You know, I always try to operate from the do no harm. I always—that is always my intention. When you talk about do no harm, that was certainly my intention in doing that story and doing that interview. And the intention certainly didn't align with the impact of the fallout that happened from that. But what got to me was the vitriol and the vulgarity that was just unleashed at me in ways that I couldn't even understand where that was coming from. So I say you may disagree with a story. You may disagree with the way I do the story. But there's just no way—there's just—it's just not fair or okay to be as vulgar and as hateful as what I experienced. And what surprised me—(applause)—is the people that came to reach out to me in unexpected places. Ivanka Trump. It's not like I'm hanging out at the White House, but Ivanka Trump reached out to me to say, are you okay? I'm sorry that this is happening to you. I mean, I have to say I was very touched by that. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a piece that said black words matter— matter. Very touched by that. Very touched. Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote something. But there was so much silence.

OPRAH: Didn't Sean Spicer call you?

GAYLE: Yeah, Sean Spicer reached out to me who I don't know at all. Just to say are you okay. And then on the other side, for others, there was just silence of people that I thought would—

OPRAH: Didn't somebody leave some doughnuts at your door?

GAYLE: Oh, Katie. Guys, I live on the upper—I live in New York on the Upper West Side. I'd been away. I came home. And on my kitchen counter was a box of cupcakes. I love cupcakes. There was a box of cupcakes with a—with a note from—and it said, ‘Katie and Suri, we're thinking about you.’ Now, I didn't even know Katie Holmes, a), even knew where I lived, which means she had to find out.

OPRAH: Yeah.

GAYLE: And that they came and they had dropped it off. And I—and I don't really know. I had to find somebody to get her email just so I could say, thank you so much for doing that. It's the kindness of strangers that I never forget during that time.

OPRAH: And in every circumstance, I think this is something for all of us to remember, it's not the people who are being mean. It's not the badness. It's not the—the vitriol that's being put into the world. But it's the good people who remain silent—

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: —that become so hurtful.

GAYLE: That's so good.

OPRAH: The good people that remain silent.

GAYLE: Because you know what? I think this. I think we can disagree politically. We can disagree socially if you want to. But I just think humanity should prevail always. And I think we still have to figure out a way to navigate that with each other. That we can disagree and you can be mad at me even—you can be mad at me. But you can't speak to me—

OPRAH: I love—

GAYLE: —in the way that I was spoken to.

OPRAH: I love that you said through it all you never questioned who you were.

GAYLE: I absolutely didn't, Oprah. But, you know, it's a very dangerous thing to read all the negativity, which I did, which will take you in a very dark place. I had to stop doing that. And Taylor Swift, I saw her Miss Americana video documentary. I know, I thought it was very good. But there's a line in there where she said, I had to turn the channel—change the channel on my brain. Don't you like that line?

OPRAH: Mm-hmm.

GAYLE: I wish I'd have seen it when I was going through this stuff.

OPRAH: I told you to stop reading all that stuff.

GAYLE: I know. I know you did. You did.

OPRAH: I told you. Will told you. Kirby told you. But you just kept reading it. You know, it's kind of like—

GAYLE: You do have to let it go. You do. You have to let it go. You have to let it go.

OPRAH: Have you moved on?

GAYLE: I—I have moved on. Is there a scab? Yeah. But I have moved on. I put on my game face and my big girl pants because I never lost sight of who I was, what I believe I am, and my intention. I've never lost sight of that. But it certainly was—it was a learning curve and it was very painful. But, yeah, I—I think sometimes you have to go through that that makes you question things in life.

OPRAH: When I say that you're the most well person I know, I mean that you're whole.

GAYLE: I do feel that.

OPRAH: You're moving through the world fully as yourself. Are you able to see that for yourself, how whole you are? You're pretty whole.

GAYLE: For the most part, yeah.

OPRAH: Yeah.

GAYLE: Yeah. I've got a scab, but, yeah, for the most part.

OPRAH: Yeah.

GAYLE: I mean, it takes a lot to make me angry. I really like people. I like hearing their stories. I like interacting with people. So it takes a lot to get to me.

OPRAH: She likes to hear people's stories so much it's hard to go to an event with her. She's the last person to leave the room because she's listening to everybody's stories.

GAYLE: Yeah.

OPRAH: If she's in a cab—I remember the time you were in a cab with the cab driver and, like, I say, ‘Gayle, where are you? You're late.’ ‘Well, because the cab driver, he wanted play the lottery and I was gonna play the lottery so I stopped and I played the lottery.’

GAYLE: So I bought him some tickets.

OPRAH: Yes. That is so nice.

GAYLE: Yes. And he had a little daughter and he was talking about what he would do if he won.

GAYLE: Yes.

OPRAH: Stedman says you're the nice one. Do you agree?

GAYLE: Well, I think you're pretty nice, too, so I'm not gonna get in that thing with you and Stedman. I ain't doing that. I ain't doing that. But you're very nice, too.

OPRAH: Well—

GAYLE: You're very nice too.

OPRAH: So what's your word for the year—

GAYLE: I don't know anybody who's been with you or had an association with Oprah, whether it's this close, this close, this close, whose life hasn't been changed for the better. And that is the truth.

OPRAH: Thank you for that.

GAYLE: That is the truth. That is the truth.

OPRAH: So my word for the year is purposeful. What's your word for the year?

GAYLE: Gracious. Gracious. My word used to be kindness. But now my word is gracious. Can we all just be gracious to each other?

OPRAH: Do you like that word?

GAYLE: I love it.

OPRAH: I didn't know you decided on gracious. And did this past week's event give you that word?

GAYLE: I mean, I think, you know, it's just been a culmination of things. You know, I was sitting here when Tamela was singing.

OPRAH: Yeah.

GAYLE: (Singing.) "Take me to the King. My heart is broke in pieces. This is my offering—"

OPRAH: Please don't sing.

GAYLE: I love singing. If I could do anything in life, I would love to be on stage singing. But my voice is terrible. I get it. But different words speak to you at different times. You know, I've been to five of these. And every time I come, there's something different. Every single time. And the words hit you depending on what's going on in your life. You hear them very differently. That's true.

OPRAH: Oh, I forgot to ask you. What is the secret to our friendship, do you think? I know what it is.

GAYLE: The secret to me is that—trust I trust you totally. Even if I disagree with you, I still trust you. And I know that—you know, I have this joke with Oprah when friends say, ‘I caught my best friend with my husband, da, da, da, da, da.’ I said to Oprah, if you ever walked in and caught me with Stedman, you should not be mad. You should take me to the mental institution. Because I have had a breakdown. Don't be mad. It means I need help.

OPRAH: Yeah. Y'all said ‘If you ever caught me with Stedman, get a straitjacket first.’

GAYLE: Yes. Yes.

OPRAH: Yeah.

GAYLE: Don't be mad.

OPRAH: I believe that would be true, too.

GAYLE: I think that we're honest with each other. And trust each other. And actually, are very like-minded in our way of thinking.

OPRAH: Yes. Except you have FOMO and I have JOMO.

GAYLE: Well, I don't call it FOMO. I just like doing stuff. I don't call that FOMO.

OPRAH: That's clearly FOMO. It is clearly FOMO.

GAYLE: No, it's not.

OPRAH: People who have FOMO don't want to say they have it. People who have the fear of missing out—not only—

GAYLE: You never know if you're gonna meet somebody, Oprah. See, you have Stedman. You go out to different places. And I have a very good life. I'm not—I don't have a, ‘Cry for me Argentina’ life because I'm not sitting at home, like, ‘Oh, woe is me, da, da, da, da, da.’ It's not that. But I think ultimately life is meant to be shared. And it would be nice to meet somebody.

OPRAH: Well, you go places all the time where you know you ain't gonna find nobody.

GAYLE: Yeah, but—that is true. Fair enough. That is true.

OPRAH: Ain't nobody there.

GAYLE: That's also true. But I like being with people. Yes, I do. And experiencing new things.

OPRAH: And you know why? Because you're one of the greatest people persons on earth. Thank you so much, my friend Gayle King. My bestie. Thank you, Denver. Thank you. (Applause.) So good, so good, so good. Get our picture. Good job. See you back there.

 

Follow @WW.Now on Instagram and Facebook for more from Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour!

 

Find out more about the special guests on Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour!