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

Share
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

Administrative Assistant

£60 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Administrative Assitant Hertford...

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

** Secondary History Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Secondary Geography Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Young Syrian refugees gather around a small fire at the Minieh camp in Lebanon  

Cameron and Obama may want to ‘destroy’ Isis, but what will they do about the growing number of refugees fleeing Iraq and Syria?

Kate Allen
“You're running away!” Nick said to me the other night as I tried to leave the hospital  

In Sickness and in Health: ‘There’s nothing I want more than to have you at home, but you’re not well’

Rebecca Armstrong
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments