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Oprah’s road to prominence as a network chief, producer, actress and philanthropist began with a rocky childhood that caused her to consider taking her own life. On an Awards Chatter podcast, Winfrey tells The Hollywood Reporter that being molested by relatives and later getting pregnant at 14 (through rape by her uncle), led her to seriously consider suicide.
“I hit rock-bottom,” says Winfrey of her time growing up with her mother in Milwaukee. “I became pregnant and hid the pregnancy. I’d intended to kill myself actually. I thought there’s no way other than killing myself. I was just planning on how to do it. If I’d had the Internet, I might not be alive because now you can just Google how to do it.”
Winfrey says she ended up having a miscarriage, which her father called a “second chance” for her. Winfrey says she took in those words as a mantra throughout her life that helped her to reach the level of success she’s at today, which includes the establishment of her own network. “I was, in many ways, saved by that, and I made a decision that I was going to turn it around,” she adds.
Winfrey who has seen critical acclaim with her original series Queen Sugar among others on her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), also recalled the channel’s rocky start, telling THR there “was a lot of schadenfreude going on in the beginning.”
“I, in the beginning, made a lot of mistakes. I made the wrong choices. And I have to this day gone over and over in mind, ‘Should I have waited ‘til I completely ended The Oprah Winfrey Show?’ Yes. That would be the answer, because I needed to be there,” said Winfrey. “This whole idea that you can start something from scratch that carries your name and bears your brand…and not be there for daily input and expect other people to get that is…it’s just a false notion. So now I know that…. The turnaround came when I had my own come-to-Jesus meeting with myself…. ‘Stop looking at this as a problem that you’ve created and look at it for the opportunity that it is. How many people in their lifetime get an opportunity to have a platform — call it whatever you will, a network — that has their name on it?'”
And while Bill Maher is reeling from his mention of the N-word on Real Time, for which he has apologized, Winfrey feels that nobody should be saying the word at all.
“I think the word should be eliminated from the lexicon,” says Winfrey. “I think it should be eliminated for everybody…. Nobody should be allowed to say it.”
Listen to the full interview below.
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The Ellen DeGeneres Show