“They are a bunch of girls, what do they need more money for?”: Oprah Winfrey Threatened to Quit Her Show After Insulting Response From Her Boss

Oprah Winfrey had to go through hell to secure reasonable demands for her staff from her seniors

Oprah Winfrey Threatened to Quit Her Show After Insulting Response From Her Boss


  • Oprah Winfrey had to once fight with her boss to get a decent salary for her staff
  • Winfrey resorted to threatening to quit her show in order to secure her demand
  • Oprah Winfrey had to face sexism when she put up legitimate demands to her seniors
Show More
Featured Video

Oprah Winfrey is undoubtedly one of the most influential women in the world. There was a time when the ‘Queen of All Media’ had to fight for her own staff’s salary in the male-dominated television industry. During her time as a talk show host, one of her bosses negligently dismissed a request for a pay raise for her staff. Winfrey had to resort to threatening to quit her show in order to secure a fair salary for her producers.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey gained fame through her iconic talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which served as an inspiration for millions of Americans. She is often regarded as the champion of women and LGBT+ rights, however, it appears she had to battle some discrimination too.

Also Read: “I was really offended and hurt”: Lindsay Lohan Broke Down into Tears Talking About Her Darkest Secrets With Oprah Winfrey in an Emotional Interview


Oprah Winfrey Received Sexist Remarks When She Asked For Staff’s Pay Raise

Oprah Winfrey and her team
Oprah Winfrey and her team

Although Oprah Winfrey is now the boss lady, in the past, she was ‘working’ for her titular tabloid talk show. Winfrey was outspoken about the gender pay gap prevalent in the workplace, particularly in the film and television industry. The Oprah Winfrey Show became a national sensation shortly after its launch, thanks to Winfrey and her producers.

However, it came to her attention that she was the only one being generously compensated more for the hit program, while her producers were still paid breadcrumbs. When she confronted her boss at the time about their pay, she received a blatantly sexist response. Oprah Winfrey recounted this incident in TIME Firsts:

“I built this show around myself and the producers. We were young women in our 30s trying to figure it out and find our own way. I was making a lot of money, and my producers were still getting the same salary. I went to my boss at the time and I said, ‘Everybody needs a raise.’ And he said, ‘Why?’ 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 gonna get raises, or I’m gonna sit down. I will not work unless they get paid.’ And so they did.”

Winfrey’s experience shed light on the deep-rooted issues of the gender pay gap within the industry. It is noteworthy that this happened to one of the most powerful women in America and a staunch advocate for equal pay rights. In another interview, Winfrey revealed that she had negotiated with her bosses for nearly a year before resorting to the drastic measure of threatening to quit.


Also Read: “The director told me ‘no’”: Oprah Winfrey’s Fame Became Her Own Worst Enemy, Couldn’t be Cast in 5-Time Oscar Nominated Meryl Streep Movie

Oprah Winfrey Paid Bonuses To Her Staff Out Of Her Salary Before Threatening To Quit

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey speaking at Variety’s Power of Women dinner (credits: Variety)

When Oprah Winfrey threatened to leave the show, the studio’s management temporarily conceded to her demands. However, it was not before The Butler actress personally paid bonuses to her staff from her own salary for a year because the studio initially rejected her pay raise demand. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey shared:

“They [Winfrey’s bosses] said, ‘They’re in the same room, with the same desks, and the same office, on the same street. They don’t need any more money.’ So that first year I gave everybody bonuses. I had a big dinner and my idea of being creative was to have $10,000 rolled up in toilet paper rolls at the dinner as gifts because I couldn’t get management to pay them.”

Sadly, this pattern continued, and each time her show reached a new milestone, she had to personally provide bonuses out of her paycheck to her staff. Unhappy with this situation, she made the decision to become her own boss and ensure that her staff received a fair and competitive salary. As of now, Winfrey is the CEO of Harpo Productions, which produced the later seasons of her talk show, as well as the Oprah Winfrey Network.


Also Read: “If I take the drug, that’s the easy way out”: Oprah Winfrey Fires Back at Critics Shaming Her For “Not Having the Will Power” to Lose Weight

Winfrey has recently entered into a multi-content contract with Apple’s streaming service. Under this contract, she has created shows, including Oprah’s Book Club, Oprah Talks COVID-19, and The Oprah Conversation for AppleTV+.


Written by Hashim Asraff

Articles Published: 1091

Hashim, Entertainment Writer. With over 1000 published articles on FandomWire, he covers a wide range of topics from celebrity life to comic book movies. He holds a Masters degree in Sociology and his expertise proves invaluable in handling sensitive news. His passion for crime investigation thrillers has turned him into a detective, exploring the darkest corners of the internet during his research.