Oprah Winfrey admits to having nervous breakdown last year
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Sunday 22 September 2013
Television personality, media mogul, actress and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey has confirmed reports that she suffered from a nervous breakdown last year.
Asked about the rumours during an interview with Access Hollywood, the 59-year-old self-made billionaire said: “That is true.”
At the time of her breakdown, Ms Winfrey explained, she was filming her role in the civil rights movie The Butler, while also trying to improve the profile of her “struggling [TV] network”, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which launched in 2011.
As she filmed an interview with Jason Russell, the director of the controversial campaigning video Kony 2012, who suffered a very public breakdown in March 2012, Ms Winfrey said: “I was sitting and listening to Jason Russell describe his symptoms... Saying, ‘Um, this sounds pretty familiar to me.’ ”
Ms Winfrey’s own symptoms began with “just sort of speeding and a kind of numbness and going from one thing to the next thing to the next thing. I will tell you when I realised that if I don’t calm down I’m gonna be in serious trouble. I was in the middle of doing voiceovers, you know? And I remember closing my eyes in between each page because looking at the page and the words at the same time was too much stimulation for my brain.”
Russell’s breakdown climaxed with the director being caught on camera running naked through the streets of San Diego.
“I mean, I wasn’t ready to go run naked in the streets. Let’s make that clear,” Ms Winfrey went on. “But I had reached a point where I just couldn’t take in any more stimulation. OK? That’s what I meant by that.”
OWN launched in January 2011, almost two years later than planned, and faced disappointing ratings that contributed to an estimated loss of $330m (£200m) over its first year on the air. The Butler, in which Ms Winfrey plays the wife of a long-standing White House butler, recently passed $100m at the US box office.
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