Oprah Winfrey, 58, may be one of the most popular media proprietors in the world, but she recently admitted to suffering some racist backlash after helping comedian Ellen DeGeneres tell the world that she was homosexual.
DeGeneres, 54-year-old daytime talk show host, told the world that she was a lesbian in an episode of her 90s television sitcom, "Ellen." In the episode called "The Puppy Episode," Winfrey appears as DeGeneres' therapist.
In the episode, Winfrey helps DeGeneres realize her sexual orientation by saying, "Good for you, you're gay." However, the African-American media maven recently revealed that a lot of backlash came from appearing in the episode with the homosexual comedian.
After the episode aired in 1997, Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter that she received hateful and racist calls and letters.
"It always turns to race. I got all of the, 'N-----, go back to Africa,'" Winfrey revealed, saying that she never had been through racism of that magnitude.
Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter about her choice to appear on the show, saying that she only intended to be supportive to DeGeneres.
"I did it because she asked me to do it and I wanted to support her," Winfrey said. "It didn't occur to me that there would be a backlash."
After the episode, before DeGeneres was granted her own talk show, the gay comedian appeared on Winfrey's daytime talk show. However, Winfrey said DeGeneres was also suffering from backlash after revealing that she was a lesbian.
"She was pretty emotional that day – kind of tense and not fully herself," Winfrey said. "It's one thing to be ready to step out, it's another thing to be ready for the thunderous explosion that occurred after she did."
Now, 15 years after Winfrey aided DeGeneres in coming out of the closet, the comedian is gearing up for the 10th season of her own daytime talk show, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
Despite the backlash that she received from helping the comedian and host, Winfrey said she believes part of DeGeneres success' stems from her revealing her sexual orientation to the world.
"Being able to be free – literally – and to express herself in a way that she can be 100 percent truthful with the audience has allowed them to fall in love with her," Winfrey said. "Honest-to-God truth: I don't believe she would have been as successful as she has become had she not come out."