Gayle King didn’t interrupt R. Kelly because she wasn’t scared, wanted to continue


By now, many of us have seen this photo of R. Kelly trying to intimidate Gayle King during their 80-minute interview. I agree with Tory Shulman that this really is Pulitzer level work . It doesn’t need a single word of explanation (Gayle said the photographer who took all the photos from the interview was her makeup artist Lazarus). It’s a powerful image for many reasons but mainly it’s Gayle’s composure. If you watched the interview, R. Kelly goes through every manipulator’s trick to sway or fluster her, from appearing “reasonable” to crying, to the outburst in that photo. Regardless of his tactics, Gayle remained strong and professional. Asked how she was able to stay so calm, Gayle said it boils down to the fact that she never felt in danger.

Before the interview even aired, there were photos floating around of you barely flinching while an angry R. Kelly towered over you yelling. The Internet has agreed that they can’t believe how poised you were. What was going through your head?

I was not scared. I never thought he was going to hit me. After, Oprah and my kids Kirby and Will called me to ask if I was okay because it looked scary. But I was never worried he was going to hurt me. I was more worried that he was going to get up and leave.

So what I was really thinking to myself was: I’m not done with this interview, so I’m going to let him have his moment. If I stood up even to comfort him, that could have been his invitation to say ‘This is over.’ So I didn’t interrupt his anger and let him have that.

But he got so close to you!

I just knew that I was never in danger. I did worry at some points that he might accidentally hit me, because he was so angry that he was flailing. But I knew that I wasn’t in any real danger. I just kept thinking ‘Okay, Robert, go ahead’ and that’s what I said.

[The Oprah Magazine]

The fact that Gayle feels safe is obvious upon a second viewing. The first time I saw it, I was worried for her and didn’t watch her close enough. But now I see it. She’s in complete control of the interview, both subject and self.

In addition to the R. Kelly segment, Gayle interviewed the two women still living with him, Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Kelly. I’m posting it below, but be careful, it’s triggering. Clearly those women have been groomed as to what they can and cannot say. Azriel goes through the same gamut of emotions that R. Kelly did in his segment, in almost the same order. Joycelyn is more robotic, simply agreeing with what Azriel has been told to say and not offering her own thoughts unless directly asked. It’s sad to watch but Gayle does a masterful job at exposing how coached their answers were without ever accusing them. If you make it to the end, Gayle explained to her CBS co-hosts that R. Kelly is just off camera while the women speak, coughing loudly or making a noise to remind the women he was there, keeping them on script. Once again, we are reminded that monsters walk among us.

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Photo credit: Twitter, WENN Photos and YouTube

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48 Responses to “Gayle King didn’t interrupt R. Kelly because she wasn’t scared, wanted to continue”

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  1. MangoAngel says:

    She is such a remarkable badass.

    • Milla says:

      She is professional role model. I dunno about her private life, but she knoooows how to be a journalist, born to do it. I was scared for her but darn she kept her cool.

    • otaku fairy... says:

      His behavior was a lot like Kavanaugh’s. She handled his tantrum so well.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      LIKE. A. BOSS. take no prisoners and take no sh*t.

  2. Jess says:

    Agreed. She is awesome and he is horrific.

  3. Maya says:

    1 woman he couldn’t intimidate and that is what bothered him.

  4. Gil says:

    I feel very sorry for those two girls. No matter what you say and what you show them they are gonna believe what “their” man has to say about it. This is just sad. Hope their parents don’t give up on them.

    • Milla says:

      Parents are not gonna give up on them. But will these girls ever be normal again? They are so brainwashed…

      • Some chick says:

        It is possible to recover from brainwashing, but it is a process. First they need to get away from him.

        The only thing family can do is to remain open and loving, and let them know they are there for them. Ex-scientologist Tory Christman is someone who’s spoken about this at length.

  5. grabbyhands says:

    The pictures from the interview are chilling and amazing.

    He, on the other hand, is a monster. I can’t believe people are still defending this ass.

    • Mariposa says:

      Yes…when I first saw it quickly on my Facebook feed my first thought was that it had been photoshopped, it just looked so bizarre to have this angry, raging man next to a woman sitting still on a chair! That photo should win a Pulitzer, it really says a million words.

  6. babsjohnson says:

    Impressive professionalism. So inspiring.

  7. Kimmy says:

    Gayle King is a BOSS.

  8. BlueSky says:

    Gayle King showed that POS that not all black women can be manipulated or intimidated. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

  9. Ifeoma says:

    The interview with the two ladies…. Wow. I don’t know how to feel. They sound so convinced about his innocence. It’s difficult to feel bad for people who are actively supporting their nemesis.

    • a reader says:

      They are abuse victims. We need to allow them the time and space to fully process what they are experiencing. That process can’t begin until he is locked up and they’re reunited with their families.

      • Ifeoma says:

        I agree with you

      • whatWHAT? says:

        yes, this.

        look at how long it took those young men to be able to fully understand and relate what MJ did to them. decades.

        I hope these young women are able to reunite with family and heal.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        right now they claim that there is evidence that their parents are doing this for money, we OK giving them over to Kelly b/c the parents were paid, etc. They offered no evidence to support why they believe this so I’m guessing this is what they’ve been told all along but I’d be curious to know if they’ve been shown anything like falsified emails from their parents. I’d like for Kelly or the girls to show the alleged “proof” of what they claim the parents have done, especially since those could be investigated and used as evidence against Kelly

  10. ByTheSea says:

    A few things come to mind when watching the video and reading the commentary:

    (1) Gayle is truly a great journalist. She has stepped all the way out of Oprah’s shadow.

    (2) While R. Kelly is deplorable, there is implicit bias shown in a lot of the “dangerous black man” commentary. Gayle didn’t feel she was in danger, because as a black woman, she knows black men. She knows he was showboating. Black men (including R Kelly are not uncontrollable animals).

    (3) These poor, poor young ladies. As Gayle points out at the end, they are 21 and 23 and have been in this situation for 4 years already. Those are formative years. I remember being 17, 18, etc. and how much influence my father had on me. R. Kelly is easily the age of these women’s fathers. And the fact that he was behind them coughing, reminding them he was there, clearly shows control and abuse. He was actually afraid that they would dispute his version of the events. He needs to go to jail, if only to free these young ladies from his influence.

    • Rapunzel says:

      Bythesea- spot on, especially with point #2. Watch the video, and it’s clear Kelly is not really out of control. I’m sure Gayle recognized that he was just acting. As for the implicit bias of dangerous black men in the commentary, I would add that R. Kelly is also just a horrible man, and people thus think he’s a genuine threat. Sadly, the crimes he’s accused of speak to those worst fears behind the dangerous black man trope, which means everyone feels comfortable using it.

    • sunnydaze says:

      I’m happy to see you mentioned “showboating” – this is eerily similar to Kavanaugh’s behavior (imagine if he wasn’t in front of congress!)…”doth protest too much!” I’t's DARVO with Tears (*DARVO is a great way of examining perpetrator behavior – Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim Offender)

      How Gayle behaved is a very common tactic to be taught to people working in crisis driven fields as a way of diffusing a situation. It’s incredibly effective, and applicable to a lot of situations where a person is clearly unraveling (I use it with people experiencing psychosis, and my 2 1/2 year old with almost equal efficacy haha). I call it my “Christmas Carol” coping skill….I remain silent and sing christmas carols in my head until the person runs out of energy or takes a pause to breathe. She’s such a pro and an incredible journalist!

      Her interview with Stephen Colbert was wonderful, and she mentions how one of the fathers of a woman interviewed called to apologize to her on behalf of his daughter. As she said to Colbert, these women are going to need their families after this ordeal.

    • Kitten says:

      You make a really important point with #2. I’m embarrassed that I hadn’t made that connection before you mentioned so thank you for that.

      “because as a black woman, she knows black men.”

      I completely agree but I also think that it’s a testament to Gayle’s professionalism and bravery because honestly, I think most of us would have jumped out of our chair, regardless of Kelly’s race. Unpredictable men frighten the f*ck out of me.
      Gayle’s strength and stillness–her utter stoicism–is something I observe a lot in black women and it’s enviable AF. I wonder if that’s just built-in for women of color— a product of surviving so many horrors for so long.

      • hunter says:

        Did you watch the video? He wasn’t yelling at HER, he was just putting on a display for the people.

    • noway says:

      Thank you so much especially for #2, and even though I believe R. Kelly and the others are vile, the optics of all of these black men getting their comeuppance, but none of this on the white men is really getting to me. I mean we are going after a dead black man in Michael Jackson, and yet Harvey Weinstein really hasn’t even gotten this treatment yet. Weinstein and Kevin Spacey went to sex rehab together in a Scottsdale or something. Where’s my four hour documentaries on them or maybe the white priests or the white Baptist ministers, or Steve Winn and the housekeeping staff. The sad reality is it is so much easier to make money on it with the American public with a black man as the perpetrator. People are beyond naive if they don’t think people are making money off of these stories and documentaries.

    • tealily says:

      Yes! I am not a black woman, but even to me his behavior and posture doesn’t read as “angry” or “dangerous” but “bloviating” and “obnoxious.” I truly think this interview should never have happened.

    • hunter says:

      “She knows he was showboating.”

      Exactly. When I watched it I didn’t see any part where he was raging at HER, he clearly was kinda doing it for the cameras, I wouldn’t have felt in danger either.

  11. Onerous says:

    I was saying something about Gayle King and my 9 year old said, “I think you mean Ms. Gayle QUEEN!”

    She’s right!

    • whatWHAT? says:

      oh, I love that.

      and I love that you’re clearly teaching your little one to understand that women have power too, and that’s it’s OK for women to have and use their power.

    • TEAM HARDY says:

      @Onerous YES!!!!!!!

  12. Veronica S. says:

    There were likely people in the room poised to intervene if necessary, but I also suspect that she knew he’d be unmasked by a woman who hadn’t been groomed to be subservient to him. Abusers are cowards if you take away their control. He doesn’t know how to deal with an adult woman with her own power, and that’s the important part of what Gayle King did here. She’s a black woman with substantial media power, and by utilizing it to reveal his evil to the world, she gave a voice to his victims who lack any of their own. That is what journalism is supposed to be.

  13. LivePlantsCleanAir says:

    This picture is now my screensaver

  14. Rhys says:

    Formidable and not at all surprising. She knew he was acting. She knew he was scared s#tless. She had no sympathy for the rapist which became clear when she asked him if he was playing a victim now.
    Many strong women handle men exactly the same way. Letting them continue with their show and staying in complete control.

  15. Sue Denim says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately…a problem with abusers is that the same emotional insight that enables them to seduce, manipulate, gaslight, etc. can also be genuinely insightful, even deeply bonding at times. If it were all bad, it would be much clearer and easier to walk away. It’s the moments that feel like love that can keep you hooked and make it so hard to let go… Also, weirdly, lying to yourself that it’s not what you think it is, is I think an unconscious attempt to feel safer, happier, able to trust yourself and the world around you. It’s hard to let the veil of safety go… Kavanaugh continues to trigger me and is prob a reason a lot of this is resurfacing for me now. I also think of Uma Thurman being asked about Tarantino and you can almost see her completely reevaluating in real time the “friendship” that literally almost killed her. Or the poor kids in the MJ film… Anyway, it’s international women’s day, and good for Gayle King for showing this pathetic excuse for a man what true power looks like…

  16. Kitten says:

    Yes she was masterful in that interview.

  17. minx says:

    She did a fantastic job.

  18. Beech says:

    Goddamn that image reminds me of Don walking up to Clinton during the debates. Then I think of his face and posture when seated by an eagle!

  19. isabelle says:

    ….but women are the EMOTIONAL sex /S

    This one pictures knocks that theory over the wall.

  20. adastraperaspera says:

    Thank you, Gayle King!

  21. Nicegirl says:

    Gayle King is a national journalistic treasure. What a master class professor.

  22. Riley says:

    Major kudo’s to Gayle! Honestly I was never a fan of hers and thought she made a career out of being Oprah’s BFF, but she is a real pro!

  23. Mollie says:

    Gayle King 4 EVA! She rocked that interview.