×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oprah Winfrey Recalls the First Time Toni Morrison Was a Guest on Her Show

“The very first time I had her on the ‘Oprah’ show, she said to me, ‘I’ve always known I was gallant.’ I was like, ‘Who the hell knows they’re gallant?'” Oprah Winfrey told reporters of her late friend and creative collaborator Toni Morrison on Tuesday night at the premiere of OWN’s original series “David Makes Man” in Los Angeles. “Her sense of confidence and self-assurance and nobility is what impressed me the most.”

A day after the death of the groundbreaking Nobel Prize-winning author, Winfrey reminisced about Morrison’s first appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and the power of her words. “She said, ‘what I realize is that what every child really wants is to know, do your eyes light up when I enter the room?’ ”

Winfrey, who told Variety that she had yet to be informed of memorial plans for Morrison, continued, “Those words, I think, resonated. I could see it resonated with every woman, everyone just did a collective ‘Ahh, yes,’ and thought about when children show up in the room. It’s not just about your children, it’s your children, your grandchildren, your lover, your husband, anybody who you care about. That’s all they are looking to see. Do your eyes light up when I enter the room? So that’s the great memory and gift that I think that she gave to me and to the audience. I think people will read her books, they will feel whatever they feel, they will experience literature at its finest, but do your eyes light up when I enter the room?”

Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Moonlight” and “David Makes Man” creator Tarell Alvin McCraney also paid tribute to Morrison. “I stand on her legacy,” McCraney told Variety. “The foundation that she laid as an artist, as a literary artist, can’t be quantified. I can try, I can really try, but all I can say is she brought an interiority that looked at black life in a way that is so beautiful and profound that we will always be counting our blessings for having her.”

McCraney’s first television foray, “David Makes Man,” is a lyrical drama that tells the story of a gifted teenager from the South Florida projects who struggles to balance a promising academic future with his life on the streets. Akili McDowell, who plays the titular character of David, spoke about the visibility that Winfrey’s name alone as executive producer brings to the series.

“It’s definitely cool to have your boss be a legend,” McDowell told Variety. “Just how important she is and how influential she is across the world.”

“David Makes Man” showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence said she was impressed with Winfrey’s level of personal involvement in the show’s production. “It’s been incredible,” Harris-Lawrence said. “I mean, it’s Oprah and for a little bit… you think she’s just going to be Oprah and she’s going to be like the godmother. No, she’s involved. We had conversations with her about casting, makeup, production design — she is definitely in there as a producer. So that was wonderful to be able to be able to talk to her about all those things from story down to editing cuts. It has been an absolute dream.”

McCraney credited co-executive producer Michael B. Jordan with believing in the project early on and driving him from pitch meeting to pitch meeting. Winfrey said the pitch for “David Makes Man” was the best one she had ever heard in her life.

Jordan told Variety that he believes audiences will be immediately drawn to the authenticity of “David Makes Man.” “The amazing cast, the storytelling, the cinematography is awesome. We had some dream-like sequences that were really, really visual and feel very, very cinematic. I think it’s an honest representation of characters shown on TV, an honest portrayal of what that community looks like, what that Florida community looks like, and the representation of young black and brown boys throughout the entire world that have gone through similar situations. I think that a lot of people will connect with the characters on the show from all walks of life. I think that is truly important.”

“David Makes Man” premieres Aug. 14 on the OWN Network.

More TV

  • Germany's Leonine Buys ‘Dark’ and '4

    German Indie Studio Leonine Buys ‘Dark’ and '4 Blocks' Producer W&B TV

    Leonine has acquired “Dark” producer W&B TV from Endemol Shine. Fledgling German studio Leonine had already bought Wiedemann & Berg Film and established itself as a Munich-based movies, TV, and digital production and distribution group. It has now added the W&B TV unit to its roster. The production company is behind several big German dramas [...]

  • PBS Masterpiece Boards British Political Thriller

    PBS Masterpiece Boards Hugh Laurie, Helen McCrory Political Thriller 'Roadkill'

    Britain is getting a new prime minister – on TV, at least, after “Peaky Blinders” star Helen McCrory signed on to play the part in the BBC political thriller “Roadkill.” PBS Masterpiece has boarded the series and will co-produce and launch it in the U.S. Masterpiece’s Rebecca Eaton will exec produce the project. McCrory joins [...]

  • U.K. Producer Barcroft Studios Sold to

    U.K.-Based Producer Barcroft Studios Sold to Future in $30 Million Deal

    Barcroft Studios has been bought by Future in a £23.5 million ($30.1 million) deal. The U.K.-based production outfit specializes in factual fare for channels and platforms, and its own branded channels on the likes of YouTube. Future is a U.K.-listed print and online publishing and events business. Sam Barcroft will stay on as CEO at [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Agencies' Antitrust Suit Against Writers Guild Set for January Hearing

    The antitrust suit filed by Hollywood’s major agencies against the Writers Guild of America has been set for a Jan. 17 hearing. U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte issued the calendar update this week on the litigation, filed on Sept. 27 by CAA, UTA and WME after the agencies consolidated their individual agency suits. The [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris SAG Awards

    Gabrielle Carteris Preps for 26th Annual SAG Awards

    SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris is already looking forward to the 26th SAG Awards on Jan. 19, held in its usual location at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. “One of the best things about the SAG Awards is that it’s a peer-to-peer recognition,” she says. “It’s the highest honor for performers to be recognized by [...]

  • GoliathSeason 3CR: Greg Lewis/Amazon Studios

    'Goliath’ Renewed for Fourth and Final Season at Amazon

    Amazon has renewed gritty legal drama “Goliath” for a fourth and final season. The series centers on washed-up lawyer Billy McBride, played by Billy Bob Thornton, who seeks redemption after a client he successfully defended from a murder charge went on to slaughter a family. Thornton won a Golden Globe for his performance in 2017. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content