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

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

Systems Administrator (SharePoint) - Central London - £36,500

£35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Girls were by far the most worried about their appearance, the survey found  

English children are among the unhappiest in the world – we are failing them

Natasha Devon
 

Daily catch-up: eurogloom, Ed in Red and Cameron’s Wilsonian U-turn on control orders

John Rentoul
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering