Oprah Winfrey on Meghan Markle & the Royal Family's 'Opportunity for Peacemaking' (Exclusive)
“Extra’s” Jenn Lahmers sat down with Oprah Winfrey and Reginald Hudlin at the Toronto Film Festival, where "Sidney," their documentary about acting legend Sidney Poitier, premiered.
Oprah is a producer on the doc, which has been in production for five years, long before the icon's death in January.
Oprah also reflected on the death of Queen Elizabeth.
“You sat down with Meghan and Harry," Jenn said. "We're seeing the four of them together now in London. Is there a hope out there this, in some way, her passing would be a way to unify the family, maybe heal some wounds?”
Oprah replied, “Well, this is what I think, I think in all families — you know, my father passed recently, this summer, and when all families come together for a common ceremony, the ritual of, you know, burying your dead, there's an opportunity for peacemaking… And hopefully, there will be that.”
Jenn said of the Poitier doc, “I know that toward the end of the documentary, you said, 'I just love him so much.' And it brought you to tears. Can you take me to that moment and what was going on in here?”
“What was going on, Jenn, was everything. Because Reggie and I had been talking for a couple of hours by that point. And it just, just the sort of spirit of him washed over me," Oprah recalled. "And I just thought about all the many days we'd spent in conversation, because I used to call him every Sunday. And we'd spend hours on the phone talking. The conversations I had at his home that he's had at my house. I just thought about all of those moments.”
She went on, “And you think about what we tried to do in this film, is to show the essence of the man, and what I was feeling in that moment that I just broke down and cried was the essence of everything that he has meant to me. And it still brings me to tears to think about.”
Continuing, Oprah said, “I mean, how blessed am I that in my lifetime, I grew up as a little girl, wide-eyed, watching him from the Oscars from the time I was 10 years old, and then not just to get to be his friend — I mean, I have journal pages filled. Many times, you grew up and your heroes cannot match what you had in your own heart. He exceeded every piece of imagination I had about what a hero can be.”
Jenn asked, “He is Oprah's Oprah — that safe to say?”
Oprah countered with, “He is certainly my Sidney, that’s for sure. “
Jenn asked Reggie, “How is [Sidney] inspiring a new generation of people?”
“I was having a conversation with John Boyega, an amazing young actor, that next generation. And I said, 'Hey, what's Sidney Poitier to you?... ' And without blink, he says, 'He's the first Avenger…' I can’t think of a better description… He is, you don't have the super team without him. Yeah, he's the guy who breaks the barriers and makes it happen.”
Jenn pointed out that Poitier wasn’t even expected to survive after being born three months prematurely.
“They had a little shoebox ready to put him in the ground,” Oprah said.
But Reggie pointed out, “When you start by beating death, then you are unstoppable.”
Oprah added, “When you start by beating death, that's right... And I think everything that he did, you see, everything that you see of him, as an artist, is expressive of who he was as a man.”
“And you know, that book that he wrote, 'The Measure of a Man,' where it was so important to him to understand what his father had said to him… And that is the measure of a man, is how he takes care of his family," Oprah said. And we've been, you know, talking to his daughters all day long. And the interesting thing about it is, even now, even after they've seen our documentary, they still just think of him as Dad… Because he didn't bring all of that outside stuff inside.”