The media mogul had just put her heart into her latest film — 1998’s Beloved — and the movie had opened one day prior.
“I shall never forget Saturday morning, October 17,” Winfrey, 63, tells Vogue for their September issue. “I got a call from someone at the studio, and they said, ‘It’s over. You got beat by Chucky.’ And I said, ‘Who’s Chucky? What do you mean it’s over? It’s just Saturday morning!’ I knew nothing about box office projections or weekend openings. It was ten o’clock in the morning, and I said to Art [Smith, her personal chef at the time], ‘I would like macaroni and cheese for breakfast.’ ”
Laughing, Winfrey says, “And soooo began my long plunge into food and depression and suppressing all my feelings.”
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The box office failure of Beloved left Winfrey in a six-week-long depression, though she had trouble recognizing it at first.
“I actually started to think, maybe I really am depressed. Because it’s more than ‘I feel bad about this.’ I felt like I was behind a veil. I felt like what many people had described over the years on my show, and I could never imagine it,” she says. “What’s depression? Why don’t you just pick yourself up?”
Thinking about the positives in her life pulled her out.
“That’s when the gratitude practice became really strong for me,” Winfrey says, “because it’s hard to remain sad if you’re focused on what you have instead of what you don’t have.”
And Winfrey says she’s very different now than she was at 44, when Beloved came out.
“By the time you hit 60, there are just no…damn…apologies. And certainly not at 63,” she says. “And the weight thing that was always such a physical, spiritual, emotional burden for me — no apologies for that either.”