Oprah Winfrey knows that when it comes to friendship, quality is better than quantity.
On a recent episode of Hoda Kotb’s podcast Making Space, the 67-year-old talk show legend opened up about her closet friendships alongside one of her longtime friends Maria Shriver, 65, admitting that she surrounds herself with a small circle of people.
“So, I don’t have a lot of friends. Everybody knows Gayle [King]. There’s Gayle, there’s Maria, there’s Bob [Greene]. And that’s, that’s about it, you know? Gayle and Maria I met around the same time and I never really expanded that circle. Until recently, I’ve become friends with a couple of people in my later adult life, in the past five years,” she explained.
Winfrey recalls meeting Shriver in a bathroom 42 years ago at the Baltimore news station they worked at and striking up a conversation, which she described as a “divine moment that happened because she was one of my true, grounded friendships that carried me through my entire career.”
She also noted the things she admires about the famed journalist.
“I cherish everything about her. I cherish her frankness, I cherish her directness. I cherish her honesty. I cherish her truth. I cherish her sense of searching for the truth. I cherish her courage,” she continued. “Oh my God, Maria’s gonna tell you the truth no matter damn what. Maria gives it to you in your face and then says, ‘And you know what I’m talking about! You already know what I’m saying is true.'”
Something else that Winfrey remembered was the internal turmoil she went through after deciding to end her popular talk show to start her own television network, OWN. The network was struggling at first and the subject of intense scrutiny, bringing her to opening up about her pain to Shriver and crying on her table. Wanting to help her friend feel better, Shriver was able to surprise Winfrey with a live performance by one of her favorite singers, Snatam Kaur.
“It was healing,” Winfrey said. “It’s exactly what you want your friends to be there to do. Number one, you want your friends to stand in the gap for you and say, ‘You are not whatever definition you’re using to define yourself.'”