Oprah had a nervous breakdown when she worked two jobs at the same time

Do you realize that Oprah Winfrey is probably going to get an Oscar nomination for The Butler? Yeah. I was shocked to realize that too. She’ll be in the Best Supporting category… with Julia Roberts, maybe. I actually think Oprah might be MORE of a nomination lock than Julia. Part of that is just because she’s OPRAH. And part of it is because Oprah has changed in a really interesting way lately – did anyone else notice how hard she shilled The Butler? Did you notice how many interviews she gave, even to the “lesser” outlets, and how many appearances she made on behalf of the film? And these weren’t soft-focus, “tell me how you feel” interviews either. Oprah has been surprisingly open about her network’s stumbles, and in a new interview with Access Hollywood, she discussed how she was on the verge of a legit nervous breakdown. She also talks about Lindsay Lohan, Stedman and marriage too. It’s a good interview:

Oprah Winfrey is bringing a reality series starring Lindsay Lohan to her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) next year but, as Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson found out, the show almost didn’t happen.

“There was a lot of chaos going on,” Oprah told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson in an exclusive new sit down interview. “So I went to have a conversation, a real conversation about that, to say to her, ‘Do you want to do it? Because if you don’t want to do it, that’s OK. We could just end it. We don’t have to do it.’”

“And what did she say?” Shaun asked in the interview with Oprah, set to begin airing on Access Hollywood on September 24.

“She said she wants to do it. So let’s get to it. So I had that conversation,” Oprah said. “I went to her house just to say, ‘What are you doing? Let’s get real here.’ And… ‘This is what’s conflicting about it.’ Because it’s television and we stand to gain if it does well. But the real truth is – and anybody who knows me, certainly my producers on the way there – Sheri Salata was in the car – I said, ‘If I get here and Lindsay isn’t serious, I will shut this thing down today.’”

During the interview, Shaun also asked Oprah to clarify the media reports that she suffered from symptoms of a nervous breakdown earlier this year.

Oprah admitted, “that is true,” and explained to Shaun that overseeing OWN while filming a movie – “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” – nearly proved to be too much for the mogul.

Oprah said she was, “in the middle of my struggling network” when it was time to film the movie. The media mogul said she went back and forth between filming the movie and shooting celebrity interviews for her show, “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” It wasn’t until an interview with Jason Russell of the Kony 2012 movement, a man who suffered a very public breakdown, that Oprah realized her emotions were on overload.

“I was sitting and listening to Jason Russell describe his symptoms…. Saying, ‘Um, this sounds pretty familiar to me.’”

“What were the symptoms?” Shaun asked.

“In the beginning, it was just sort of speeding and a kind of numbness and going from one thing to the next thing to the next thing. I will tell you when I realized that I thought, ‘All right, if I don’t calm down I’m gonna be in serious trouble.’ I was in the middle of doing voiceovers, you know? And I remember closing my eyes in between each page because looking at the page and the words at the same time was too much stimulation for my brain.”

It wasn’t until her interview with Fergie, that Oprah realized it was time to slow things down a bit.

“I mean, I wasn’t ready to go run naked in the streets. Let’s make that very clear,” she said, making a reference to what happened with the Kony 2012 movement’s Jason. “But I had reached a point where I just couldn’t take in anymore stimulation. Ok? That’s what I meant by that.”

No topic was off limits during Shaun’s interview with Oprah, including her relationship with Stedman Graham. Shaun asked Oprah if she was comfortable leaving this world as “a never married woman.”

“That’s really OK with me. That’s really OK because Stedman would tell you this, Shaun, if you ever interviewed him, he would tell you that had we married, we would not be together today,” she revealed.

“He’s a traditional man, and this is a very un-traditional relationship,” Oprah continued. “And I think it’s acceptable as a relationship, but if I had the title ‘wife’… I think that there would be other expectations for what a wife is and what a wife does.”

The wide-ranging interview also included a discussion about Oprah’s sex scene with co-star Terrence Howard, which was deleted from “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

“Well it was not sex. And the reason it was not sex [was] because I would not let Lee take me there. It was completely out of character, and I thought that Lee was pushing the Oprah envelope,” Oprah said of why the scene didn’t make it in the film. “But you just want to see me rolling around in the sheets with Terrence – I think Terrence wanted to see it too. Y’all are not gonna see it. Not for this character.”

[From Access Hollywood]

I find the Stedman stuff fascinating. I mean, I’m not one of those people who think that Oprah and Stedman have some kind of weird arrangement or anything – I think she loves him and he loves her and they’ve figured out something that works for them. But I think this is weird: “he would tell you that had we married, we would not be together today.” Really? I think this is Oprah’s issue, not Stedman’s. She doesn’t want to be anyone’s wife, which is fine. But don’t make it into a “he’s traditional, he wanted a ‘real wife’” situation.

As for Oprah’s breakdown… I could see it. OWN was really stumbling and I could totally see how, for the first time in decades, Oprah wasn’t on top and that made her feel things she hadn’t felt in a long time. Kudos to her for being honest about all this stuff.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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58 Responses to “Oprah had a nervous breakdown when she worked two jobs at the same time”

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  1. Frida_K says:

    I’ve not been an Oprah fan but she was wonderful in The Butler.

    That’s all I’ve got for this one.

  2. Latisse says:

    I love this woman. I really do. Here is a celebrity actually worth admiring for once. This is a woman that built herself up from NOTHING. Overcame sexual abuse, poverty, just straight up being a black woman in America, I love her.

    Also I don’t think that she is saying that Steadman is traditional and that is why they aren’t married. I think she is saying that eschewing the title of “wife” allows her to have a relationship on terms she is comfortable with/capable of. Not having that title allows her to give only as much as she is able to give, and makes it so there are constraints on the type of demands Steadman can make of her.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I do, too. I know she gets on people’s nerves for coming across as full of herself or whatever, but I admire her so much. I think she really tries to be the best person she can be and use her influence for good. She isn’t perfect, but she admits that and learns from her mistakes.

      I also get what she’s saying about marriage. She said the same thing about why she never had children. Her career was too demanding and too important to her and she didn’t feel she could do both well. She’s probably right.

      • Sloane Wyatt says:

        You took the words out of my mouth, GoodNames.

      • LAK says:

        I really loved her Piers Morgan interview. I think it was his first CNN interview after taking over the Larry King slot. She was clear headed, concise and very rational about what it took to achieve her career and why a traditional, conventional relationship would not have worked with her career choices.

        It made me like her more than when i normally see her chat shows or gushy interviews.

    • momoftwo says:

      I am an unabashed Oprah lover too! I guess it’s the thing now to bag on her, but I think she’s amazing, a huge role model and thought I don’t agree with everything she does, that doesn’t mean I am going to start bashing her.

      Team Oprah :)

    • nicegirl says:

      I really love Oprah.

  3. Kim1 says:

    Gayle just said this story was false.Next

  4. Kate says:

    Ugh. Well, Anne Hathaway will be happy at least. Oprah and Julia competing for Best Supporting Actress will be 1000 times more annoying than Anne’s campaign.

  5. lucy2 says:

    I can appreciate her being honest about it.
    That is interesting, her take on what being a wife would mean. They’ve been together so long and she’s such a strong personality, it’s hard to imagine that changing, but maybe. Either way, this works for both of them and they’re happy, so good for them.

  6. Lake Mom says:

    Meh. Try being a single mom with two kids and no child support working four part time jobs to put yourself through college. I’d have loved to have a nervous breakdown but didn’t have the luxury.

    • KLaw says:

      ^ This.

    • truthSF says:

      IKR!! Everytime Oprah speaks, my ears bleed from all the bullshizz she be spewing.

    • emmie_a says:

      Yeah I don’t think you can schedule or will away a nervous breakdown… I know someone in a very similar situation to yours, who spent almost a month is a psych ward earlier this year. It happens even when you can’t afford the “luxury”.

      • Sloane Wyatt says:

        We don’t know what happened behind the scenes. For all we know, Oprah could have availed herself of an intensive day patient treatment facility behind the scenes.

      • Danskins says:

        +1…mental illness affects everyone in society, I guess it’s a common misconception that it’s only a “rich person’s” disease, based on the above comment.

    • Jessica says:


      • janie says:

        Not a fan… don’t care. She hasn’t saved the world or come up with a cure for a disease. She’s so full of herself, I simply don’t like her. Her network is still crappy.

    • Latisse says:

      Oh yeah, I am sure your life has been SO MUCH harder than oprah’s. GMAFB, every luxury this woman has, she earned.

      • Lake Mom says:

        Blow it out your ear, Latisse. My life is pretty damn great now thanks to my own efforts. The point is, there are millions of people who struggle with real problems everyday. It’s hard to have sympathy for a billionaire, with a world of resources at her disposal by the way, that struggled with her movie script while interviewing celebrities. GMAFB.

      • Latisse says:

        I doubt she cares whether you have sympathy for her or not. But you suggesting that your problems are much greater than the ones she’s faced or that struggling with mental health is a choice (let me use your words: a luxury that you can’t afford) is completely and utterly ridiculous. As are your attempts to trivialize her. Also that “world of resources” that she has access to, guess what? She earned it! So yeah: GMAFB

      • LakeMom says:

        Well, we agree on one thing. I doubt she has any sympathy for me …or you or anyone else unless the camera is rolling. (And unlike her, I’m not asking for any.) Again, you miss the point. But that’s ok. I’d expect nothing less from such a rapid Oprah fan. Keep drinking the Kool-aid and have a beautiful day.

      • Latisse says:

        I think the word you’re looking for is rabid. And which point was it that I missed: the one where you tried to invalidate Oprah’s accomplishment by throwing a massive pity party for yourself? Or the one where you tried to call mental illness a choice before throwing a massive pity party for yourself? But I’m sorry, you’re not asking for any sympathy right? Just for spectators to your massive pity party. Again, please: GMAFB.

    • Samigirl says:

      I came to comment something similar. She can cry me a river.

    • Westie says:

      Apples and Oranges. The thing is people who have multiple jobs tend to be working menial repetitive jobs. Jobs that allow you to mentally sign out. And even those who work professional jobs and say teach college classes arent emotionally tied to the gigs in the same way that an actress is being required to emote at her day job and save her failing TV network at night.

    • Westie says:

      Apples and Oranges. The thing is people who have multiple jobs tend to be working menial repetitive jobs. Jobs that allow you to mentally sign out. And even those who work professional jobs and say teach college classes arent emotionally tied to the gigs in the same way that an actress is being required to emote at her day job and save her failing TV network at night.

      • Karen81 says:

        People who work menial jobs are getting paid squat therefore they have the extra worry about keeping food on the table, a roof on their head, clothes on their back etc. So your right it is apples and oranges. Oprah can just walk away from these jobs or any and never work about money. People who work low pay jobs cannot.

        If she had a nervous breakdown, then I hope she gets better soon because nobody deserves mental illness (or any illness for that matter) however I am not going to feel sorry for her. She step on way too many people up to her artificial throne for me to do that.

        Oh and for all Oprah lovers out there, please take her. I’m from Chicago and were still getting over the stench of cruelity she left behind.

      • Lola says:

        And who exactly did she stomp on to get there? Other than racists, misogynists and general malcontents?

    • LAK says:

      This is such a ridiculous attitude to have towards Oprah, given her life story.

      To imply that she doesn’t know how poverty feels is ridiculous. It motivated her to make herself wealthy beyond belief.

      She’s earned every penny and luxury and the right to bitch about it.

      • Latisse says:

        Thank you so much for saying that!!! I mean I understand if this sort of attitude was expressed towards Angelina Jolie, or Kate Middleton or seriously any other celebrity that succeeded without the sheer mountain of odds working against them that Oprah had.

        I mean to imply that Oprah’s life has been easy?? It takes a very specific sort of self-delusion to believe that.

    • Kassandra says:

      Just because she wasnt in your situation doesn’t mean she wasn’t allowed to have a breakdown. You don’t know how you would’ve coped in her situation, and it’s not like she was saying her life is harder than anyone else’s. For the most part celebs have a seemingly good life but they are still humans who face their own demons every single day. I just don’t think it’s fair to discount someone’s struggles just because from the outside their life looks peachy or because you went through something seemingly more difficult.

    • Eileen says:

      My thoughts exactly!

    • MavenTheFirst says:

      Agreed! Cry me a river.

      Oprah has a ‘nervous breakdown’ due to her own choices. Try living a life of necessity.

      Oprah is such a drama queen.

    • Kate says:

      I was thinking the same thing. The next time she’s about to have a nervous breakdown, Oprah might want to have a chat with a Wal Mart worker to see how they cope.

  7. Joan says:

    I just love her.

  8. emmie_a says:

    She put all her time and effort into The Butler at the expense of her network, which has investors and employees pissed because she’s letting that very expensive ship sink. I don’t know if she should be hailed for knowing OWN was failing but instead of taking the steps to save it, took an acting job that would get her name back in the spotlight. She’s just another egomaniac who is desperate for attention.

  9. blue marie says:

    I worked 2 full time jobs for 5 years and remember going a bit nutty when a friend of mine complained about being tired while only part time working. It was a great way to save money though, after paying bills I was always too tired to do anything so on my days off I slept. I could do it in my 20′s, not so sure I could do it today.

    Anyway, I wish she would have left the Lohan thing alone.

  10. Common Sense says:

    I too love Oprah, that is all.

  11. phillykatt says:

    I work two jobs and have a son that is chronically ill so cry me a friggin river.

    Oprahites react with fury and disbelief when I say this but i met her once and she was not very nice at all. She became uber rich and famous by appealing to the masses, but its my impression that she has no time for anyone who isnt rich and famous like her. Much of her appeal is to middle class white women and she’s been called “America’s Mammy” which is kinda harsh.

    Anyway, i have to admit she was very good in The Butler.

    • ZigZagZoey says:

      I’m so sorry about your son. That sucks. I hope he can get better.

    • Mindy says:

      I met her too years ago at a Duty Free shop of all places. She was lovely but firm. She took some pics with customers and when she realised she was drawing attention excused herself. What I remember most was how authoritative she was when she had to go. Polite but also unapologetic. The group parted as though God himself had commanded it. I wish I could do that.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I think she has to be firm or she could never go anywhere or do anything. It probably comes across to some people as rude or dismissive, but really, what choice does she have?

      • bluecalling says:

        i agree…

        i wish all women could do that. i apologize so much sometimes it annoys ME.

  12. Migdalia says:

    Called it. She was amazing in The Butler. Her and Whitaker deserve noms if not wins :)

  13. Side-Eye says:

    Apparently, since she’s rich now, she’s not allowed to have problems with her mental health. I wonder how a lot of the people commenting would feel having to go through what Oprah went through before she was who she is today. Is there not even a little bit of empathy for you people or does everything have to be some kind of Olympics over who has it worse?

    • Latisse says:

      I have noticed that commenters on this site seem to have a disproportionate amount of loathing for Oprah. No matter what she says or does–it’s always wrong. The fact that people are trying to call Oprah out for being pampered, spoilt, and whiny is freaking bizarre given her story. It’s nonsensical.

      • Side-Eye says:

        They have a disproportionate amount of disdain towards a lot of people, and always feel the urge to qualify it with how much they’ve done. Like, sis. That’s cute for you.

      • Danskins says:

        +1 @ Side and Latisse…I really wish ppl would really get over the “who has it worse” Olympics…geez it isn’t a contest!

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I totally agree. There’s always someone whose story is worse than yours. It doesn’t mean that what’s happening to you isn’t stressful or frightening or painful or worthy of mention.
      Totally agree. She’s “pampered” now because she worked hard for years and overcame a lot of adversity. Why begrudge her that?

  14. Thiajoka says:

    I smell litigation in the near future for Oprah and LiLo. It doesn’t make sense to put your faltering network’s fate in the hands of someone who is notorious for being unreliable–whether that has to do with being a druggie or what, who knows? I’m of the school that believes that addictions are just a symptom of a deeper problem, which is something that most 12 Step and rehab programs don’t address adequately. So, good luck to all in the reality show venture, but I don’t see it working out. Oprah is a good actress–were I her, with her contacts, I would start focusing there.

  15. themummy says:

    First of all, this title is ridiculous. She doesn’t just work two jobs–she has a whole bunch of things always going at once and is go, go, go all the time and has been that way for years and years. I can see why she’d start to crack. This is a non-story. And misleading.

    Second, we all have different limits on what we can handle, when, and why. Oprah has had a really interesting life, and has experienced utter poverty and intense and ongoing sexual abuse, as well as luxury. She built herself up from nothing and I applaud her. She deserves her lifestyle, unlike some (Kardashians, anyone?). Just because she’s rich now doesn’t mean she is immune to mental health problems or stress.

  16. apsutter says:

    I’ve worked two full time jobs that were relatively low stress and had a really difficult time with it. I can’t even imagine how much stress she was under and how she was able to handle it. I think she’s always broadcast the fact that she works hard and quite a lot so I can see her cracking under the stress. A person can only take so much pressure before they crack.

  17. mogul says:

    Didn’t she invest money so that the butler could be made, maybe that’s why she’s promoting this movie so hard. Plus I don’t think she will win an oscar, even though she was amazing in the movie.

  18. cari says:

    Oh Boo the Eff Hoo….two jobs? OMG. Try working that and still not be able to pay your modest bills, and have to borrow just to buy food for your child(ren) or pay co pays for their medical. she would have a catatonic meltdown if she had to deal with the reality most of us have. she has totally lost touch with any reality.