Gayle King Details Process Behind Breonna Taylor O Magazine Cover

Late Night with Seth Meyers - Season 7 -Gayle King on August 19, 2020-H 2020
Courtesy of NBC

The 'CBS This Morning' co-host and publication's editor-at-large shared her reaction to the vandalization of one of the 26 billboards featuring the young woman killed by the police in her Louisville, Kentucky, home.

Gayle King has shared more details about the process behind O, The Oprah Magazine’s historic September cover featuring a portrait of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman shot and killed in her Louisville, Kentucky, home by police last March.

While appearing on Late Night With Seth Meyers, the O editor-at-large and CBS This Morning co-host credited one of the magazine’s young talents, Deirdre Read, for the idea as she recounted how it made its way up to the “O of O.”

According to King, the O magazine research editor had returned from a Black Lives Matter protest where she’d had a conversation with a young white woman that was “moved” by the gathering. During their talk, it was suggested the magazine could do something that “would send a very strong message.” Soon after, Read came back to the office and sent the idea.

King admitted that she was initially split on the idea, telling Meyers that, “When I first got the message I thought this is either a really good idea or this is either really horrible.” But it touched King and other O magazine team members that heard it. That included Oprah Winfrey, who immediately said she loved the idea.

“All of us sitting there trying to figure out September covers, Deirdre was the only one who spoke up, and God bless [her] for thinking outside the box,” King said.

From there, Winfrey’s next step was getting Taylor’s mother on the phone. “The first thing she did was call Breonna's mom, Tamika Palmer, to make sure that it was okay because we didn't want her to feel we were exploiting it,” King said. “We didn't want to cause her unnecessary pain.”

The September cover art, which was created by digital portrait artist Alexis Franklin, features an illustrated rendition of a selfie taken by Taylor. This marks the first time Winfrey has never appeared as the magazine’s “cover girl,” according to King, and also comes during the magazine’s 20th anniversary.

“She's been on the cover with other people like Michelle Obama, Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell, Mehmet Oz, so she’s shared a cover. But I could probably count on less than both hands, how many times that happens,” King said. “It's never been one where she has not been our cover girl.”

Taylor, an emergency medical technician, was shot at least eight times after three Louisville Metro Police Department officers entered her home during a “no-knock warrant” raid on March 13. Since the event and the outcry over Taylor’s death, one of the officers, Brett Hankison, was fired, but no criminal charges have been filed against him, or the other two, Officer Myles Cosgrove and Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly.

Winfrey also funded 26 billboards around Louisville featuring the Taylor cover in an effort to “honor her and call for what we believe should be justice in this case,” King said. One of those billboards was recently vandalized with red paint. King presumed the paint was meant to signify blood, and said the incident“shows you that there's still so much work to be done.”

“I'm happy to tell you though that that was immediately changed,” King stated. “The billboard company went right out there and took it down right away. So we were very, very gratified and happy that they did that, but it just shows you that there's still a lot of anger, there's still a lot of hate, there's still a lot of distress in this country.”

“But I don't know how anybody could not want justice,” King continued. “I mean, it's just heartbreaking to me that this is still unresolved for this family.”

Watch the full segment below.