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

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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Hampshire

£25000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A relative of dead Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman reacts after seeing his body at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka on March 30,  

Atheists are being hacked to death in Bangladesh, and soon there will be none left

Rory Fenton
9.4 million people watched the first of the three-way debates at the last election. The audience for the one on Thursday is likely to be far lower.  

David Cameron needs to learn some new tricks – and fast

Steve Richards
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor