Oprah Winfrey is many things — philanthropist, mogul, teacher — but one thing she’s never had the desire to be is a mother.
She and longtime partner Stedman Graham have been together since 1986, but have never tied the knot or had any children. This might seem odd considering Oprah’s role as one of the most powerful and richest women in the world who is known for her Leadership Academy for Girls. But for Oprah, it’s a no-brainer.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey opens up about her decision to never have kids. According to her, her aspirations were always elsewhere.
Oprah says her best friend Gayle King, now a mother of two, “was the kind of kid who, in seventh grade Home Ec class, was writing down her name and the names of her children. While she was having those kind of daydreams, I was having daydreams about how I could be Martin Luther King.”
The decision to choose helping the world over creating her own family isn’t one Winfrey regrets. “If I had kids, my kids would hate me,” she says. “They would have ended up on the equivalent of the Oprah show talking about me; because something [in my life] would have had to suffer and it would’ve probably been them.”
But she does have daughters — hundreds of them, in fact — through her Leadership Academy for Girls. She discusses how she wakes up every morning and answers their texts for advice, even if it’s just boy talk, and how she tries to teach them the best lessons that she’s learned. In particular, she advises them on how to manage the success they may have and the wealth that can come with it.
“When you’re the most successful person in your family, in your neighborhood and in your town, everybody thinks you’re the First National Bank,” she says. “I got to the point where nobody ever asked me for anything less than $5,000. I felt pressured for a long time to say yes, because I thought, ‘I can’t lie and say I don’t have it. My salary is printed in the paper.'”
As for recent reports of her nervous breakdown over OWN’s initial failure, Winfrey insists, “I never had a nervous breakdown. I thought that was such sensational exploitation.”