‘They’re only girls’

Oprah says she once threatened to strike in fight with boss over her female producers’ salaries

Oprah Winfrey. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

In an interview for Firsts, a multimedia project from TIME magazine that features interviews with 46 “women who are changing the world,” Oprah Winfrey revealed that she once threatened to go on strike from her job as host of The Oprah Winfrey Show unless her boss gave her female producers raises commensurate with the show’s success.

Oprah, whose legendary talk show went on to become the highest-rated program of its kind after its premiere in 1986, said that as the show became a success and she began earning more, that she discovered her bosses had refused to increase her producers’ salaries.

“I went to my boss at the time and I said everybody needs a raise, and he said, ‘Why?’” Oprah recalled. “He actually said to me, ‘They’re only girls. They’re a bunch of girls — what do they need more money for?’ I go, ‘Well, either they’re going to get raises, or I’m going to sit down.’ I will not work unless they get paid. And so they did.”

Oprah also spoke at length about how it felt to be a TV talk host at a time when “there were no black people on a billboard, on television or in the media.”

Read the full story and see an excerpt of the interview at TIME magazine.


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