Oprah Winfrey has admitted that she doesn’t ‘have a lot of friends’ and has hardly ‘expanded that circle’ since meeting Gayle King and Maria Shriver over four decades ago.
Oprah, 76, and Maria, 65, appeared together this week on Hoda Kotb’s new podcast, Making Space, and looked back on how they met in a TV station bathroom 42 years ago — and encounter Oprah calls a ‘divine moment’ that began ‘one of my true, grounded friendships that carried me through my entire career.’
The longtime friends discuss the early days of their friendship — when they’d work long hours and Oprah had little time for dating — and how they’ve been there for one another through the hard times.
Tight: Oprah Winfrey has admitted that she doesn’t ‘have a lot of friends’ and has hardly ‘expanded that circle’ since meeting Gayle King and Maria Shriver over four decades ago
Long time: Oprah and Maria were both working at WJZ in their 20s when they began a conversation in the bathroom – and have been friends ever since
Opening up: Oprah, 76, and Maria, 65, appeared together this week on Hoda Kotb’s new podcast, Making Space
For someone mega-famous like Oprah, it can be difficult to know who to trust — and who likes you for you. Which appears to be why her closest friends have all been in her life for decades.
‘So, I don’t have a lot of friends. Everybody knows Gayle [King]. There’s Gayle, there’s Maria, there’s Bob [Greene]. And that’s — that’s about it, you know?’ Oprah said.
‘Gayle and Maria I met around the same time,’ she added. ‘And I never really expanded that circle. Until recently, I’ve become friends with a couple of people in my later adult life, in the past five years.
Maria agreed that Oprah has always had a ‘core little group’ that hasn’t changed much throughout all of her big life changes, which she thinks is ‘awesome.’
‘If I’ve had a dinner for Oprah’s birthday, it’s the same — she has a core thing there, and you feel safe in that core friendship,’ Maria said.
The pair looked back 42 years to when they first met while working at the same Baltimore TV station, WJZ. Oprah was coming in to work one morning, while Maria had been there working all night, and they ran into each other in the bathroom.
‘Gayle and Maria I met around the same time,’ Oprah said (pictured with Gayle and Steadman in 1994). ‘And I never really expanded that circle’
Maria agreed that Oprah has always had a ‘core little group’ that hasn’t changed much throughout all of her big life changes, which she thinks is ‘awesome’
The guy in the bunch: Oprah also named her trainer Bob Greene as one of her closest friends
‘We started a conversation. And I forever think that that was, like, a divine moment that happened because she was one of my true, grounded friendships that carried me through my entire career,’ Oprah said.
At the time, Maria was already in a relationship with now ex-husband Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Oprah admitted she didn’t have much time for real dating.
‘I was in bad relationships all the time,’ Oprah said, but added: ‘I didn’t have a whole lot of time for dating because my life was consumed by [work].’
The two have just grown closer over the years, and both sang each other’s praises.
Maria described their friendship as long, deep, simple, low-main, trustful, loyal, consistent, and tried-and-true.
Oprah pointed to a ‘spiritual connection’ between them and listed all the things she adores about Maria.
‘I cherish everything about her. I cherish her frankness, I cherish her directness. I cherish her honesty. I cherish her truth. I cherish her sense of searching for the truth. I cherish her courage,’ she said.
Sweet: Maria described their frienship as long, deep, simple, low-main, trustful, loyal, consistent, and tried-and-true
Truth: Maria said there are ‘few people you can really talk to honestly,’ but she and Oprah are that for each other
‘Oh my god, Maria’s gonna tell you the truth no matter damn what,’ she went on. ‘Maria give it to you in your face and then say, “And you know what I’m talking about! You already know what I’m saying is true.”‘
Maria said that it’s ‘the little moments’ that have kept them so close, and ‘that’s what I cherish my friendship: when we just sit there, like, “Can you believe that?” or “Do you remember this?”
‘There’s so few people you can really talk to honestly, and that you feel safe [with], and when I walk out the door, I know nothing’s going anywhere.
‘I think we’re all pushed to have these big, big moments. But I think it’s the little moments that people aren’t pushed to have, that really are the transforming moments,’ she said.
They’ve also been there for one another through the hard time.
‘In my darkest moments, she was right there, sitting right next to me, holding space,’ Maria said.
It was mutual: Oprah recalled how she struggled after ending her talk show to launch the OWN network.
‘In my darkest moments, she was right there, sitting right next to me, holding space,’ Maria said
Support: Oprah was there for Maria in her ‘darkest moments,’ and recalled the way Maria cheered her up when she was upset about her struggling OWN network
‘Every newspaper, everybody was saying, “You shoulda kept your day job. The struggling OWN. What’d you leave The Oprah Show for? It’s a disaster.” Just one story, after another story, after another story,’ she said. ‘It was really a bad time for me.’
‘I remember laying my head down on the table, Maria, and just sobbing,’ Oprah said. ‘Saying, “Oh, gee, I think I made the worst mistake.”
While Oprah was feeling down, she and Maria learned that they shared a love of the singer Snatam Kaur — so Maria made some calls and had the singer surprise Oprah with a live performance.
‘It was healing,’ Oprah said. ‘It’s exactly what you want your friends to be there to do. Number one, you want your friends to stand in the gap for you and say, “You are not whatever definition you’re using to define yourself.”‘
The pair have been able to be there for one another in ways that they didn’t experience as children.
Maria said: ‘In a funny way, even though I had a very close relationship with my mother, I wasn’t nurtured, mothered in that way, right? And [Oprah] wasn’t mothered in her own way. But I think, in a way, we have mothered each other.’