We thought it would’ve happened long before … you know, like when she was a child growing up in segregated Tennessee.
Well, Oprah Winfrey reveals to the Hollywood Reporter that she got called the N-word for the first time when she agreed to guest star on Ellen DeGeneres’ eponymous ABC sitcom back in 1997.
The episode, in which Winfrey played a therapist, featured DeGeneres’ Ellen Morgan revealing her sexual orientation for the first time, a long-rumored plot twist that made for game-changing TV. DeGeneres did so off-screen as well, coming out publicly in a Time Magazine cover story titled, “Yep, I’m Gay,” and a sit-down interview on Winfrey’s since-ended talk show.
“I did it because she asked me to do it and I wanted to support her,” Winfrey tells The Hollywood Reporter of her decision to be part of the “puppy episode,” as it was famously code-named, in this week’s cover story. “It didn’t occur to me that there would be a backlash.”
After the episode aired on April 30, 1997, Winfrey was on the receiving end of vitriol-fueled letters and phone calls. “It always turns to race. I got all of the, ‘N—–, go back to Africa. Who do you think you are?’” she says of the venom hurled her way, noting that she had never experienced anything like it before.
Read/learn more at The Hollywood Reporter.