Tavis Smiley’s top five favorite guests

Interviewees who raise the talkshow bar

Maya Angelou

“She has distinguished herself for many reasons. She has so much to say and so much good to offer. She has been on my show the most often, about a half-dozen times. She also took me on my first trip to Africa when I was a kid. I basically hung out with her in Ghana for 10 days. I did a lot of listening, crying and growing. I cherish that trip to this day. She’s like a mother to me.”

Harrison Ford

“Harrison Ford has rarely done interviews, and when he walked out I thanked him because I knew that he just didn’t want to be there. But as the conversation went on, it was so rich, and at the end of the conversation he thanked me for the best

conversation that he’s ever been subjected to.”

Dustin Hoffman

“He’s the only guy who’s come onto my show for two consecutive nights because the conversation just took off. At the end of the first show, he said to me, ‘But I’m not done yet.’ So he came back the next night. He had so much to say, and he was so grateful that someone was giving him so much time.”

Prince

“Again, he is not one to do interviews. I didn’t know this, but when I was on BET, Prince watched my show every night. Then he called me one day and I hung up on him a couple of times because I didn’t think it was really him. Eventually we had lunch. It was supposed to be one hour, but it turned into a six-hour lunch. He called me a week or two later to offer to come on the show. It took me days to figure out the reason that he took me out to lunch was to interview me, to make sure that he was comfortable talking to me. He totally bamboozled me.”

James Taylor

“All of my professional career, I’ve wanted to interview James Taylor. I’ve traveled all over the country to see him in concert. Finally, about year and a half ago, he came on. He rarely talks, but to me he opened up about his marriage to Carly Simon, his drug problems, kids, about how he’ll sometimes write a song and won’t realize for five years what the song really means. It was just a beautiful conversation.”

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