Rhiannon Harries: 'Oprah's most powerful weapon? Not coming across like a moron'

Related Topics

Got up this morning, day four of my Consciousness Cleanse, and found freedom through forgiveness. Managed to forgo an unholy fry-up thanks to fab new book I'm reading called Women, Food and God, then ditched usual work attire in favour of experimenting with "new ways to wear khaki".

OK, that's not quite how it was, but it would have been had Oprah Winfrey – the world's most powerful celebrity, according to Forbes' 2010 list – exerted any kind of direct influence on my life. All of the above come with Winfrey's seal of approval – the modern-day equivalent of a royal warrant, or at least in the US.

The list, like most of its kind, is patently silly. "Powerful" meaning what? The capacity to shift self-help books, or weaken the knees of teen girls (Robert Pattinson is number 50)? In fact, the best way to understand Forbes' definition of power is to go back to GCSE Physics – the rate at which work is performed (media visibility) or energy converted (entertainment-related earnings).

Winfrey's top spot isn't surprising – she's headed the list before and even on this side of the Atlantic we know that with her sprawling media she has the ear of Middle America and rakes in pots of money to boot. On every occasion, much is made of the fact that she is both black and a woman.

But this year she has company – the number two spot is occupied by another black female best known by her first name alone, Beyoncé. So what finally separates Winfrey from the pack is that she is the only talk-show host in a top 20 of pop stars, actors and athletes. Admittedly, her career now goes far beyond presenting, but it has always been the core.

The Oprah effect is unfathomable to some. Winfrey is not always a brilliant interviewer if you care for real candour or depth, and her inspirational philosophy is a bit hokey and New Age for some. I began to understand it myself only recently, when the story broke that The One Show's Christine Bleakley is getting a few million to decamp to ITV. That Bleakley is the top of the UK presenting pile speaks volumes about the talent in this sector.

All I conclude is that, however nice or intelligent you are, it must be very hard not to come across like a moron when presenting a TV show. Oprah may spend a little too much time humouring Tom Cruise and harping on about the "abundant life", but the ease and flair with which she does it is incomparable. If Bleakley's millions are reflective of her skills, then Oprah's estimated yearly earnings of $315m are surely richly deserved.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Army reservist Corporal James Dunsby  

Whether it’s in the City, the Army or at school, this ritual sadism has to stop

Chris Blackhurst
Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender Olympic champion formerly known as Bruce, unveiled her new name on Monday  

'I'm the happiest I've been for a long time and I finally know where I fit': Here's why role models matter for trans kids

Susie Green
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific