Oprah Winfrey Talks President Trump, Parkland Shooting + A Wrinkle in Time with CNN’s Van Jones
Oprah sat down with Van Jones for a special episode of The Van Jones Show and discussed President Trump, what’s on her bucket list, A Wrinkle in Time with director Ava DuVernay, and gave advice to the Parkland shooting survivors.
Winfrey also made it clear that she is not running for President in 2020. However, Oprah gave some advice to anyone who is running in 2020.
“I am not running for President,” Oprah Winfrey said to Van Jones. “So, I am not letting you go there, but if I were running for office and I will say to whoever it is going to run for office, do not give your energy to the other side. Do not spend all your time talking about your opponents. Do not give your energy to that which you really don’t believe in. Do not spend an ounce of your time on that.”
Oprah also touched on Trump and Jones asked what she would say to the POTUS if she had 10 minutes. Ava DuVernay, the director of A Wrinkle in Time, joined Oprah on the show and talked about the new film and Trump’s tweets concerning the media mogul.
Winfrey also gave some advice to Americans who feel discouraged in today’s political unrest and encouraged Americans to “stay in the light.” She mentioned the Parkland shooting and how the students should march with a purpose concerning gun control.
“There’s a strategy to the marching,” Oprah explained. “There’s an intention. There has to be a very clear intention behind what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”
Oprah then discussed her bucket list and young actress Yara Shahidi.
Here are some video highlights and the full transcript of the interview:
VAN JONES, CNN: Greetings, I’m Van Jones. This is “The Van Jones Show.” I want to welcome you to our special Sunday edition on a very special night on CNN.
Tonight, we are going to be graced with the presence of a legend so powerful, she doesn’t even need an introduction. She doesn’t even need a last name. I don’t even know what to call her. Queen mother of planet Earth, Oprah Winfrey, is in the building.
She’s in the building. Oh, lord. Oh, it don’t make no sense.
Later on, it gets even better. We’re going to talk to a film director who is helping to lead a cultural revolution in Hollywood. She’s bringing forward new voices, new stories, new viewpoints, the visionary director Ava DuVernay also will be in the house. Oh, it’s a mad show. It’s a mad show.
Now, look, Ava’s latest film is called “A Wrinkle in Time.” It’s out this weekend. Take your kids there, if you haven’t already gone. If you don’t got no kids, go anyway, because Oprah is in that, too.
So — now listen, you can tell I’m hyped. I’m excited. But it’s not just because these guests are global superstars. I am excited because they are two of the most inspirational human beings I have ever met, and personally I just need some hope right now. I am tired. I’m frustrated. I’m even scared because of the stuff that’s happening in our political system.
The crazy has just gotten crazier and crazier. Everybody agrees that we should protect the Dreamers, but we still can’t pass the bill. Everybody agrees we should do a better background check on people who want to buy bazookas and stuff, but we still can’t pass a bill, not one bill. And if Barack Obama did half the stuff that Trump did just last week, he wouldn’t be impeached, he’d be locked up in Guantanamo someplace. Am I wrong?
But here we are and the leaders in Congress acting like everything is OK. It’s not OK. And so I hope that we’re going to elect some sane people during the midterm elections who can start turning stuff around. But in the meantime, the overall vibe around politics is just so negative and so nasty. I’m staying involved and still in the fight, but honestly, I’m looking elsewhere for wisdom and for insight and understanding.
And that’s why I love talking to the cultural icons on this show so much. I just think the non-politicians could be more honest, they could be more real, they could be more truthful sometimes than the politicians. And it’s also why on “The Van Jones Show” we get out of D.C. We go to the heartland. We’ve been to Charlottesville, Virginia. We’ve been to Houston, Texas, Las Vegas, Nevada. And what we find is, on the ground, the personal stakes of these issues are actually a lot higher, but the circles are smaller, and the conversations, they feel a lot different, like maybe you could actually get some place eventually.
And so the whole point of this show is I think we’ve got to change where we think change is going to come from. In ordinary times, the business leaders, the politicians, you know, they run the society and we just play our little parts on the margins. But when we’ve got a serious crisis like this one, the business leaders can’t create enough good jobs for people, maybe for robots, and the politicians, they just sit around and fight, so where are the solutions going to come from?
I believe they’re going to come from unexpected people and unexpected places, like those young students out there in Florida and Chicago who are marching the stop gun violence and the women who are breaking their silence demanding fairness, and the Dreamers who are saying, “Listen, we love America. You all better love us back.” I mean, the poets, the protesters, the artists, the mystics (ph), the crazy entrepreneurs who are taking on the world, that’s where the hope is going to come from.
And the hope is also going to come from profound visionaries who have huge platforms and who may not hold office, but who do hold forth a bright vision for everybody. We need hope. We need wisdom. We need inspiration.
So let’s hear it from a woman whose name is synonymous with all three. Please welcome to “The Van Jones Show,” Oprah Winfrey.
OPRAH WINFREY, ENTERTAINER: Hello, hello, hello.
JONES: Oh, my goodness.
WINFREY: It’s “The Van Jones Show.”
JONES: Oh, my goodness.
WINFREY: So this is what it is.
WINFREY: It’s look like I’ve been watching you on television.
WINFREY: Do you see me tweeting for you?
JONES: I know. You tweet for me, and then I get all kinds of (inaudible) I love it. We miss you so much. We do.
WINFREY: But we have you now.
JONES: Well, listen, I might be able to fill like a tiny little — we miss you so much.
WINFREY: Well, thank you.
JONES: Do you miss us? Do you miss us every day?
WINFREY: I actually miss — I miss you guys. I don’t — I miss you guys. Because where I got fed every day was the audience. And I did not miss a day in 25 years because of the audience. I don’t care how badly I felt. I don’t care what kind of cold, what kind of flu, I would come because I knew that, you know, in our audience every day were a couple hundred, 350 people every day who have literally told their aunts, their cousins, they came with their mothers, they came with their friends.
And I know that the preparation to get there — you’ve been coming from Iowa, you’ve been coming from Tennessee for days, so it’s not just a “Oh, I’m just going to the Oprah Show.” You’re saying, “Girl, I’m going to the Oprah Show.”
JONES: I’m going to go to the Oprah Show. I am going to be on Oprah’s show.
WINFREY: Girl, I’m going to be on Oprah. I am going to get my nails done. People would come with their pedicure. I said, “Let me see your toes.”
Did you get your toes done? So I know it’s a thing that people have prepared for, and so they don’t want to hear you’ve got a cold that day.
JONES: It meant so much to us. And we had — you know, I’m going to have to let you know how it is for us now. We had you. We had the Obamas in the White House. So even on a bad day, you had a North Star. You had some hope.
And then it was like the universe just said, “Psych!” And (inaudible) was in the toilet, and closed the lid, and now we’re just stuck in this crazy situation. It’s so out of this world.
WINFREY: We have each other. We have each other.
JONES: Tell me about that.
WINFREY: And this is the thing. I think I have to just say…
JONES: Please say it.
WINFREY: … everybody is feeding yourself on the hysteria and the negativity.
JONES: Talk about that.
WINFREY: You’ve got to stay in the light. But one of the reasons why I was so excited is about “A Wrinkle in Time,” because the message is that the darkness is spreading so fast these days. You must become a warrior of the light.
And the reason that’s so meaningful to me is because that’s how I’ve led my whole life. And every moment in that film, I just felt like, “I am just saying what I normally say.”
JONES: It’s true.
WINFREY: And for these times, the darkness is there to show you your light. Look at what has happened. So, if you put the focus on — look at what happened with the darkness that showed up in Parkland and the darkness that showed up on the streets of Ferguson and the darkness that showed up in many, many, many, many, many homes in Chicago, with shootings and senseless murders, it brings out the best in people. It brings out the best.
And so that’s what it’s there. We live on a planet where there is darkness and light. You know, one of the things — I am not running for office.
So I am not letting you go there. But if I were running for office — and I will say to whoever is going to run for office — do not give your energy to the other side. Do not spend all your time talking about your opponents. Do not give your energy to that which you really don’t believe in. Do not spend an ounce of your time on that.
JONES: Well, help us. Now, listen…
WINFREY: So don’t spend your time on that.
JONES: Preach, preach. You’re preaching, I love it. That’s what we need.
But let me just push back for a second, because, you know, I got my love army. I go out there, I try and tell people, “Let’s not become what we’re fighting. Let’s not feed what we’re fighting.” You know what they tell me? They tell me, “Shut up, Van, because we’ve got bigots out here, we’ve got Nazis out here, we’re getting bullied. We’re tired of going high. We want to go low and kick them in the private parts.” So how do you respond to that?
WINFREY: There will be some people who do that, but you will not eventually win.
JONES: Tell me why.
WINFREY: And you know who knew that?
WINFREY: The civil rights workers and leaders. Those people — you know, there was a strategy to — that’s why I said to these young people from Parkland, you can’t just go down there and march. There’s a strategy to the marching. There’s an intention. There has to be a very clear intention behind what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
So, by the time Rosa Parks sat down on that bus…
JONES: Please talk.
WINFREY: … they had been planning that for a very long time. They have been planning for a long time. Everybody talks about…
WINFREY: Everybody talks about…
JONES: Her feet were tired.
WINFREY: Yes. Everybody talks about, oh, that particular day, Rosa just said my feet are tired.
JONES: My feet were tired.
WINFREY: That is not true. That was a strategic thing that happened there. And so — there hasn’t been a darker time, I believe, for our people other than slavery than what was going on in the civil rights movement. And the young people, like the John Lewis’s of the world, said no more, enough, find another way.
JONES: Help me with this…
WINFREY: Well, let me help you. It’s law. It’s law. You and I have talked about this. We’ve had long conversations about it. What I deeply believe is not that do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What you do is already done. That moment in “The Color Purple,” where she says, “Everything you ever tried to do to me,” where Whoopi says that as Celie, “Everything you even tried to do to me, already done to you.”
So the law — the third law of motion of physics says that what you’re putting out is coming back all the time, regardless of whether you know it or acknowledge it or not. So you’ve got to stay as a warrior of the light.
JONES: How do you — I believe it. I believe it. I believe it.
I believe it. Now, I want to get practical with you. I want to get practical — because somebody is going to say, “Well, she can say that because she’s a gazillionaire,” but…
WINFREY: Yeah. But the way I got to be a gazillionaire…
JONES: Talk. Talk. Talk.
WINFREY: The way I got to be a gazillionaire…
Hello — because this is what I have understood for a long time.
JONES: Every day, this is — I’m going to tell you about my life, you tell me how to fix it. Every day, I wake up — listen, I need your help. I wake up in the morning, I am trying to be a warrior of the light, and I reach for my cellphone, and I look at it, and I just start freaking out. And I freak out the whole day…
JONES: What do you do every day? What are your rituals?
WINFREY: So I wake up in the morning…
JONES: What do you do?
WINFREY: … and the first thing I say is, “Thank you.”
Even before I’m awake, even before my eyes are really fully open, I say, “Thank you.” I can feel the gratitude like, “Woo, I’m still here. I’m in a body. Thank you so much. I thank you for that.”
WINFREY: And then I go through the letting the dogs out, the whole, you know, brushing your teeth and all of that stuff. And then I have either silence or prayer or something that acknowledges that I’m still here.
I do not reach for that phone first. That’s your problem.
JONES: That’s my problem.
WINFREY: That’s your problem.
JONES: That’s good.
WINFREY: I understand. I understand, but you’re in the business and you want to know what’s happened.
I want to know what’s happened — what am I going to have to respond to today?
JONES: I know, I’ve got to get my cell buddies.
WINFREY: Let me get in it.
JONES: Well, I love what you are saying, and it…
WINFREY: But you don’t believe it.
JONES: No, listen, I believe…
WINFREY: You don’t believe it because you think you can fight it head on. You cannot meet it head on and fight it. You have to transcend it.
JONES: Transcend it.
WINFREY: You have to.
JONES: Yeah. Listen, I feel like when — you know, you have been going out now and you’ve been talking to people. You are not only one of the best communicators in the world, part of that’s because you’re one of the best listeners in the world.
When you go out with the “60 Minutes” and you’re talking to people, what are you hearing now from folks? In other words, I think we’re so divided, we’re all in our own little bubbles. We’re building bubbles and not bridges. You’re bridging. What are you hearing from people?
WINFREY: Well, you know, what actually — what actually moved me so deeply was one of the first stories I saw you do. That show changed me, and I went to “60 Minutes” and said, I want to do something like that. I want to be able to sit down with people who don’t share the same views and see if they can sit down with other people who don’t share the same views, and see if we can have a conversation. Because I had an idea in my head of what a Trump supporter was based upon what I’d seen on the news. And I am telling you, honest to goodness, I’ve told you this before — you know this is true…
JONES: Yes, yes.
WINFREY: … that when I saw you walk into that home, and you interviewed the family, it was a father, two sons, a wife, the woman…
JONES: Yeah, the Seitz family.
WINFREY: The Seitz family. She said she didn’t vote because she couldn’t vote for Hillary or Trump, and they had all been Obama supporters…
JONES: Two-time Obama voters.
WINFREY: Two-time Obama…
JONES: A labor family.
WINFREY: That changed the way I…
WINFREY: That changed my whole perception. So I said, there is more to this than we’re actually hearing and seeing.
JONES: Well, look, I am so…
WINFREY: So, you influenced me deeply.
I have been influenced by that.
JONES: I’m never speechless. My job is not to be speechless. I’m kind of speechless right now, but — look, that changed me, too. It changed me, too. I am still friends with them.
WINFREY: Are you?
JONES: I am still friends with them. They text me encouragement. I text them back. If I’m ever in that part of the country, they come and see me speak. They still support Trump.
JONES: But they’re good people. They’re hardworking people…
WINFREY: That’s exactly right.
JONES: They just felt — they felt like nobody was listening to them, and I asked them, “But what about all the terrible stuff that Trump says?” And they said, “We just crumple that up and throw it away. We’re desperate for jobs.”
Part of what I think is going on and what I need your help with on, as well, is that there’s an empathy gap. I can understand my pain, but I can’t understand their pain. They can understand their pain, they can’t understand my pain.
You have been a bridge-builder for empathy. What are some of the things that you do in conversation or just in your life that lets you bridge so well?
WINFREY: Well, I think that what we were able to do on “60 Minutes” is put people in the room together to hear. You know, one of the questions I asked that actually never made the air was, “What is the one thing we can all agree on?” And I said, “What is the thing that matters the most to everybody at this table?” And you know what everybody said?
WINFREY: Family, in some form or another. All of us can agree that our families are important and that we are a nation of families, that everybody belongs to somebody’s family, and to be able to find the common ground. I mean, that is just the nature of who I am, is to go in and to be a peacemaker and not a divider.
JONES: Well, the thing is, I’m curious, because sometimes I wonder if you…
WINFREY: That’s what you did in that piece.
JONES: Well, I tried. I tried.
WINFREY: That’s what you did in that — but you didn’t just try, you did it.
JONES: Well, I appreciate that. But you did it every day in the — when you were the queen of the everything…
WINFREY: Thank you for that. Thank you for that.
JONES: Would your show be able to survive now? I am so curious.
WINFREY: Oh, for sure.
Oh, for sure.
JONES: Even with all of these pull — listen, right now, I am telling you, I am out here, I am scruggling. I am one of the few — I didn’t say struggling, I said scruggling. I’m trying to do the bridge, but you know what? Right now, you get more clicks, you get more followers, you get more buzz if you’re divisive.
JONES: How could you survive in this setting?
WINFREY: Well, you would have both sides. You would have both people represented and you would have people saying things that you absolutely disagreed with, and then you would have somebody else say something that you can’t even believe they said that. But you would put them in the room, and as I said, you would find the common ground.
JONES: Find the common ground.
WINFREY: You find that behind the facade of all of your opinions and your beliefs that at the heart of this, we all want the same thing. I want the same thing that you want. And I know that whether you are Republican or Democrat or libertarian or whatever you call yourself, that underneath every body is this desire and need to be valued and to know that what you say, what you think, what you want to do in the world, your fullest expression of yourself, that that thing matters. I know that going in, yeah.
JONES: I love it. Listen, we have so much more to talk with Oprah about, and when we get back, including her involvement with the gun control fight. Next, as we’re going to go to break, you know, I love hearing the voices of people on this show. Here’s what you…
WINFREY: I love that part.
JONES: I love it. Here’s what you said about Oprah and what she means to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much for having the courage to say the things that need to be said. I appreciate you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a pediatrician, I refer to her story often to let young women and little girls know that even if you grow up with hardship, to follow your dreams and you can be successful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: All right, we are back with the one and only Oprah Winfrey…
WINFREY: On “The Van Jones Show.”
JONES: On “The Van Jones Show.”
WINFREY: How does that feel to you, though, really? Did you always want to have your own show?
JONES: You know, I always wanted to be able to make a difference. I didn’t know if I would be able to have a show. You know, it’s — I’m in interviewing you. You’re trying to…
They said you were going to do that, too. OK, I’m supposed to ask you questions. So, listen, you — you are — you’re somebody — you started — I mean, I am from Tennessee. You grew up in the South, as well.
WINFREY: I just want to know, though, are you living the dream, like when you look out and you…
JONES: Right now, I am living the dream, I mean right here. Yeah.
WINFREY: No, I thought you were living the dream with Jay-Z. That’s pretty good.
JONES: He was amazing. People have come like yourself, and said, listen, I want you to be able to put something positive on the air, and it’s been beautiful.
Speaking of beautiful stuff, it must be beautiful to be a billionaire and famous, so I want to ask you a question.
That was a segwoo (ph). That was a segue. So let me ask you this question, honestly. So you’re now both rich and you’re famous.
JONES: And I’m curious, because most people are either one, and want to be both. If, for the rest of your career, you could only be one, would you be able to deliver on your promise more through your wealth or through your global standing?
WINFREY: Damn, that’s a good question.
JONES: I got it off the Internet.
WINFREY: That is really a good, thoughtful question.
JONES: Because think about this. You’re going to probably live another 30 years. You’ve got another 30-year career left. Honestly, you’ve got another 30-year career left. So which of those two do you need to be able to deliver on your thing?
WINFREY: I think, honest to goodness, I think in order to actually do the stuff, money is important. But I also think the thing that I hold the dearest and the reason why the noise about running for president moved me so humbly and deeply is because it means that you have somewhere in the work gained the people’s trust.
JONES: Yes, you have.
WINFREY: And there is nothing more important to me than having the trust of the people and the audience. And I mean, I recognize that it is the audience who came every day and watched, you know, from all over the world that actually…
JONES: All around, for generations.
WINFREY: … yes, that helped me to be who I am, so I think the…
JONES: … the renown, the standing…
WINFREY: … the standing, the ability to be trusted and to say something, but also — listen, don’t play the billionaire thing small, don’t play the B small. It’s a very big deal, because it allows you to…
… it allows you to — it allows you to actually do the work. So, instead of saying, “Gee, I would like to help so many people,” or you should go out and help so many people, you can actually use that through yourself. And I am now at this stage of my career thinking about how to do that more poignantly and fruitfully.
WINFREY: I’m not looking for ways that I can do that to create a level of sustainability within our communities that will go long beyond, you know, my lifetime.
JONES: What — what would that look like?
WINFREY: Well, you know, I just did this piece for “60 Minutes”…
JONES: About the trauma-informed care…
WINFREY: About the trauma.
JONES: Talk about trauma, real quick.
WINFREY: And I’m telling you, I’m telling you that changed me immensely, because when I first opened my school, I started to notice from all of these brilliant young girls that I discovered in townships and villages throughout South Africa that they were having these, you know, reactions to being brought to the school. And…
JONES: Negative reactions?
WINFREY: Some negative reactions, some, not all. And Dr. Bruce Perry, who I just interviewed last weekend, said they’re suffering from PTSD. And people who have been raised in traumatic poverty, deprived situations come out with trauma that they don’t even know that they have.
So people don’t understand, why don’t you pay attention when you’re in school? Because you’ve learned to disassociate, which disassociation is a good thing if you’re a kid and somebody is yelling and screaming at you all the time, but when you get to a classroom and you need to pay attention, when things get uncomfortable, you disassociate.
JONES: You know, that trauma-informed care is so important, and we’re trying to get that into schools…
WINFREY: So I know I am going to be spending a lot of my energy and time…
JONES: A lot of time on that.
WINFREY: … and money helping people who have gone through those kinds of circumstances to evolve.
JONES: You know, no good deed goes unpunished, though.
JONES: You know, so when you’ve been helpful to that school and with those beautiful young women in South Africa. Then people in Chicago say, “We want a Oprah school.”
JONES: How do you process that when people…
WINFREY: Well, this is the thing. I have a very big life and I accept that Jesus. Thank you, black baby Jesus. Thank you. I have a big life…
JONES: That’s going to be a meme, but go ahead.
WINFREY: OK, black baby Jesus, thank you so much. But — so that means, when things happen to me, things happen in big ways. Good things happen.
JONES: Yes, they did.
WINFREY: And so all my mistakes end up on the CNN crawl, I say, if I do something wrong. So you have to decide for yourself. So when I first started making money, I was one of those people who felt, “I’ve got to — every time somebody asked me, I got to, yeah”…
JONES: You go crazy.
WINFREY: You go crazy. You have to look within yourself, what do you want to do? That means family members, because you’ve got a lot of cousins.
JONES: Cousins, cousins you didn’t know you had.
WINFREY: Wait a minute. When you get “The Van Jones Show,” all of a sudden, you get cousins following you. So you decide for yourself. And so I have, you know — I have given away so much that people don’t know, because most of the time, you don’t hear about the people that I’ve helped.
JONES: And you don’t brag about it.
WINFREY: So people complain about what I did or didn’t do, y’all don’t know me.
JONES: They don’t know.
WINFREY: They don’t me. I do. I do.
JONES: And let God know.
WINFREY: And God does. So I don’t have any…
JONES: Let me get one more…
WINFREY: … I have all of that very much in check. Very much in check.
JONES: One of the…
WINFREY: You have no idea. I will just tell you this, for example, like, whenever there is a big hurricane or a big tragedy or something, what I like to do — and I literally did it — I find reporters to find people in the communities. And so during the hurricane in Houston, and there have been many other places where I will just call up people, the people who are in the shelters, and I’ll find their number, and I say, “Hi, this is Oprah, and I want to help you,” and they go, “Ah, that’s Oprah.”
“Don’t tell nobody. Don’t tell anybody. I’m going to help you.”
JONES: You know, Prince was that way, too.
JONES: So, you were inspired to help the kids who are fighting against the gun violence. Because it’s such a big issue, I just want to give you one moment to talk about, why were you so moved to help the young people in Parkland?
WINFREY: Well, because it reminded of many conversations I have had with John Lewis, who was one of the Freedom Fighters…
JONES: These young people in your mind could be the civil rights leaders of the…
WINFREY: Well, it reminded me of, “Enough,” and the fact that they were creating this national march to say, “Enough.” And it takes to risk that on a national level is what I responded to. And I wanted to be able to bring kids from all over the country who wouldn’t be able to afford to get to the march, that’s what I wanted to do.
JONES: Beautiful. Listen, well, look, Oprah is sticking around, and next up, we’re going to have the Oscar…
WINFREY: Ava DuVernay!
JONES: Yay. We’re going to have Ava DuVernay.
WINFREY: Ava DuVernay!
JONES: She’s going to talk about her new movie, “A Wrinkle in Time,” and what they’re going to do to bring an inclusion revolution to Hollywood. When we get back.
WINFREY: Ava DuVernay!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she’s a prophet. I think she’s here to bridge worlds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She’s an inspiration. She is passionate in her drive. She’s just so powerful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just inspire me so much, because you are living and changing the world one woman at a time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: You just have to find the right frequency and have faith in who you are. Let’s find your father.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: That was just a small clip from the new movie, “A Wrinkle in Time.” I want you to please welcome to “The Van Jones Show,” the visionary behind this film, groundbreaking director and producer, Ava DuVernay. Oprah in the house.
WINFREY: Ava DuVernay!
AVA DUVERNAY, FILM DIRECTOR: How are you doing?
WINFREY: My sister friend. Yay. You’re here.
DUVERNAY: I’m here. Hi.
WINFREY: Hi. You’re a warrior of the light.
JONES: Yes, definitely.
DUVERNAY: Oh, that’s nice, thank you.
WINFREY: You’re a big warrior of the light.
DUVERNAY: Thank you. We try.
WINFREY: Can I tell you that I wanted to be her friend — you don’t have to ask anything.
JONES: Don’t, don’t…
WINFREY: Can I just tell you, I wanted to be her friend, so I saw her movie “Middle of Nowhere,” and I wanted to be her friend.
JONES: Oh, back in the early one. Early.
WINFREY: Yes. And so I — you know, I don’t, like, go around looking for friends.
JONES: That’s probably true.
WINFREY: OK? So I wanted to be her friend, so I Googled her, and I saw this picture, the (inaudible) and I thought, “What a warm, engaging — I am going to be her friend.” So I set out to be her friend.
JONES: Wow. It’s inspiring.
WINFREY: And it worked. And it worked.
JONES: It worked. I know it’s tough for you, but…
DUVERNAY: I mean, it’s an incredible story. Whenever I hear her say that, I just can’t even believe it, you know, from a Google picture. Thank goodness I wore my glasses that day.
WINFREY: Girls with glasses, girls with glasses.
JONES: You know, Ava, you could have really done anything. After “Selma,” then you did “13th.” Why did you pick this project to be the next kind of anchor in the Ava DuVernay body of work?
DUVERNAY: I fell in love with the story about this girl, Meg, being a hero, the idea that she could fly, hop planets, save the universe. She’s not a Jedi. She’s not a super hero. She’s a regular girl in a plaid shirt and glasses, and that she could do things that she thought she didn’t have inside of her, do things that she thought was impossible. And I relate to that.
I didn’t pick up a camera until I was 32 years old. I didn’t go to film school. I was a black woman trying to make film at that late age. And in film, that’s old. That’s like dog years. It’s like very old. And so kind of achieving the impossible, like I really saw something in Meg’s story that connected with me.
But then also, after “13th,” I was tired of darkness, you know what I mean? That was a thousand hours of racist, violent footage that I had to look through and carve and craft. And I just wanted to go like design flowers for two years. And so, I did. And it was fun. I worked with friends and share a message of light.
JONES: You mentioned one time, Oprah, that you saw Sidney Poitier on television and it just changed your life. What would an 11-year-old Oprah Winfrey have been like if she could have seen this movie?
WINFREY: I wouldn’t have believed it was possible. Don’t make me start crying here, because the very thought of — the idea that there is an Ava for them to see — and, you know, I’ve told this story before, but it’s true. There were so few role models when I was coming up that every month, I would go to the store and get “Seventeen” magazine, because my family was on welfare, my mother was on welfare, so we could never — I could never afford a subscription. So I would only have the $0.50, so I would wait there.
And there was not a brown person ever in all the years that I was buying “Seventeen” magazine. There was one white girl who had brown hair and a round nose. Her name was Colleen Corby, and I used to pull her out of the magazine and put those pictures on the wall…
WINFREY: For representation…
DUVERNAY: As close you could get.
WINFREY: Because it’s as close as I could get…
DUVERNAY: Didn’t you have her on your show, Oprah?
WINFREY: And I years later had her on my show to say, “You were it for me.”
JONES: You were all we had.
WINFREY: You were as close to black as I could get, was a brunette with a round nose.
JONES: I don’t want to have any spoilers on the movie, but I’ve got to talk to you, because just the opening of the movie, you have this young brown-skinned girl who is being trained, not to bake cookies, not to play with dolls, but it looks like she’s being trained to be, like, the world’s greatest scientist. Like, just the opening of the movie, I am like, Ava can roll the credits right now, because just that image is going to just do — I mean, I realize, I had never seen in my life that image. How important was it to you to show her as not just a beautiful girl, though she’s beautiful, but also this incredibly intellectually gifted prodigy?
DUVERNAY: Well, it was very important, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with baking cookies and playing with dolls. I think we need to just have balance and we need to have options. That’s always been the challenge, is that women have been put in one box because it’s all you can do.
Those things are great. And they require intellect and creativity. But in addition, you can also be a mathematician and an astrophysicist and a doctor, and actually anything you want. And that’s the goal of the story.
JONES: All right, one more thing about this. I also think that this movie is subversive in a different way. You said already, she is fighting evil, but she’s not throwing roundhouse kicks. She doesn’t pull out a ray gun. She’s not got a light saber. She figures out a way to fight based on the love she has for her brother, for her father, for herself. Are you trying to change the way that — expand the way that heroism works in cinema? Is that — are you up to something?
DUVERNAY: Well, look, this is a movie for young people, and people who are young at heart can still tap into that space where you have a hopeful heart. I mean, these are dark and divisive times. And I was listening to you — and, you know, I reach for my phone first thing in the morning, too, and it just sets the day off in a bad way if you look at the wrong account and who tweeted in the middle of the night. And so you just…
WINFREY: I told you.
DUVERNAY: And she always tells me not to do it, but one of the things, really, that I’ve learned from her is you can fight with light. For example, when, you know, President Trump was tweeting at her…
WINFREY: You called to tell me.
DUVERNAY: I called to tell you. And I said, “So? What are we going to do?”
JONES: My earrings off. Let me take my earrings off.
DUVERNAY: What’s up? I’m going to — what are we doing? And she said, “Listen, of course not. Of course we don’t do anything. And I’m going to go have a latte and walk around the garden,” you know what I mean? It’s like really just…
WINFREY: I’m going to take my dogs out.
DUVERNAY: Yeah, it’s just about where you put your energy, and so this film, and a lot of what I am trying to think of these days, is you put your energy in places that are seeds that blossom into beautiful things instead of putting your energy into things that only drag you down.
WINFREY: That’s what I’m trying to tell you.
JONES: Hey, would you want to maybe teach that to President Trump? In other words, you guys know each other. If — listen, seriously…
JONES: I’m serious. Hold on, you all are laughing. Hold on.
WINFREY: What is he talking about?
JONES: I’ve seen pictures. I’ve seen pictures.
WINFREY: I have not spoken to President Trump since he became President Trump. The last time I saw him was — we were in a restaurant, I think 2016, and you know that restaurant, Ralph Lauren’s restaurant, and there were a whole bunch of people in the restaurant. And I was — he was at a table and I was at a table. So when you say know each other…
WINFREY: OK, hello.
JONES: This is a serious question. I think about this because of this whole idea of, like, if you had 10 minutes with him, I mean, you’re one of the few people — listen, billionaire to billionaire, megastar to megastar, and also human being to human being, what would you say to the president? No cameras. No lights. Just you guys.
WINFREY: I wouldn’t. I would only speak where I feel that I can be heard. So I would only speak if I felt that I could be heard. All right?
JONES: So if all you were doing was making these amazing films, or you know, “Queen Sugar” is an amazing TV show, that would be — by the way. By the way.
DUVERNAY: I like that. You heard the black women say, “Mmm.” Did (inaudible)
WINFREY: The (inaudible) that they know, season three, woah. Woah, woah.
JONES: So, listen, if that’s all you’re doing, that would be enough, but you’ve gone so far beyond that. You had only female directors for one of the seasons of…
WINFREY: All the seasons.
DUVERNAY: All the seasons.
JONES: All the seasons, only female directors, only…
JONES: And you’re fighting — I mean, you’ve said it over and over again, being the first is nothing if you’re the last, and you’ve been fighting — talk about this inclusion revolution that you’re helping to lead in Hollywood.
DUVERNAY: Oh, I don’t think I am leading it. I think I am a part of it.
WINFREY: I think you are. You know, I have to interrupt you because the word inclusion actually came from you.
JONES: That’s true.
DUVERNAY: Yes, but you were saying diversity, and I was saying let’s say inclusion, but…
WINFREY: Everybody was saying diversity and then I saw you said inclusion, and I’m — it’s inclusion.
Now it’s inclusion, OK?
DUVERNAY: I mean, I love Frances McDormand, she talked about this inclusion rider, and this is this idea that’s going on around in Hollywood. It was…
JONES: What is that?
DUVERNAY: It was really an idea that actors and producers and directors who really care about this idea of there being an inclusive crew, all kinds of people being able to make the movies, both the directors in front of the camera and the crew members, like these wonderful camera people here behind the cameras, we want those kind of people to look like the real world, that the stars of the film would put in their contracts, “If you want me, you have to have an inclusive crew.”
JONES: That’s awesome.
DUVERNAY: So it’s an inclusive — inclusion rider in the contracts.
JONES: I am noticing something. The “Me, Too” movement was started by a black woman. “Black Lives Matter” started by three black women. You have you guys sitting here. Alabama was won — that Senate race was won because of black women. Did the black women have a meeting? Did you guys get together and just say, “Were going to change and stay close…”
JONES: Because something is happening. Am I right?
DUVERNAY: Well, it’s in our bones.
JONES: All right. Well, listen, we are shining a spotlight on the forgotten voices of the “Me, Too” movement and the “Time’s Up” movement. When we get back, it’s an issue that’s really important to all three of us. That’s next on “The Van Jones Show,” when we get back.
JONES: Welcome back to “The Van Jones Show.” I am here with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay. She is one — we’ve got one of the stars and the director of “A Wrinkle in Time.” It’s in theaters right now. Go out and see it.
You know a man named Shaka Senghor.
WINFREY: Oh, yeah.
WINFREY: “Writing my Wrongs.”
JONES: The author — a beautiful, brilliant author of “Writing my Wrongs.” Did 17 years in prison, seven years in solitary confinement, came out, became an MIT fellow, became a best-selling author, met you. He always talks about what he learned from you, but what did you learn from Shaka Senghor?
WINFREY: I learned that you are not the biggest mistake you’ve ever made. I learned that redemption is possible. I learned that within every single person is this desire to be seen and heard and valued for who you truly know yourself to be and who you know yourself to become.
And he taught me a lot about not judging people, because I had the book on my desk. Somebody had said, “You should interview this guy.” And I was, “Uh, I don’t know” (inaudible) so I was like, what am I going to learn from him? This is a guy who murdered someone. And then, as I was packing up to leave Chicago, I carried the book and then ended up reading the book and was so moved by his story that he’s become a friend of mine. And so it helped me to drop judgment and to see things — to see everybody differently because of his story.
JONES: Because of his story. You know, and, Ava, you’re somebody — you made the documentary, “13th,” and Shaka was in your documentary.
DUVERNAY: You were, too.
JONES: Well, I was, too. I appreciate that…
DUVERNAY: You were in it a lot.
JONES: But just say a word about why you went into creating a documentary like the “13th” about prisons?
DUVERNAY: Oh, to create a primer (ph), it’s not just about prison. It’s about, as you well know, it’s about the criminal justice system and the ways in which — what we call the prison industrial complex now has been morphed and formed and deformed as the decades have gone on.
So, in that documentary, we spend a hundred minutes and we go through a hundred years of American history and really help people understand that prison isn’t just a place where bad people go, that it’s much deeper than that, it’s very insidious, and it’s a system that needs to be kind of really looked at in all of its layers. There’s not going to be one politician or one bill that fixes it.
JONES: Yeah. Well, listen, I agree with you 100 percent. And I want to show you something. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on with women in our prison system, and I think you’re going to be shocked when you see what I found. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES (voice-over): Women are the fastest-growing population in our jails and prisons. America is home to only about 5 percent of the world’s female population, but we house in our prisons about 30 percent of all the women incarcerated in the world.
From 1980 to 2014, the population of women behind bars went up by 700 percent. More than 82 percent of the women who are locked up are already victims of physical or sexual abuse, and when they get to prison, more trauma awaits.
In one year, more than 13,000 women said they had been sexually victimized, and remember that’s just the reported cases in one year alone, and black women report the highest rates of abuse.
Several states are now dealing with major scandals, including rampant sexual abuse of the inmates by the paid staffs. And beyond the assaults, women suffer even more horrific humiliations. When women give birth behind bars, it can be a nightmare. Some women are actually forced to be shackled while they’re having their babies in the full view of male guards. Some facilities even force women to be in solitary confinement just because they’re pregnant.
Taxpayers have to pay about $52 billion a year every year to cover the cost of the prison rape of men and women behind bars, including compensation to the victims.
Fortunately, some lawmakers are standing up to do something about this. Congress and a few states have introduced prison reform legislation specifically dealing with the challenges of mothers and pregnant women in our prisons and jails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: I’m working with the campaign called Dignity for Incarcerated Women to get something done about it. You guys have these platforms, and you’re trying to deal with tough stuff — race, gender, prisons, whatever — and a lot of times, when you raise issues like this, it becomes divisive. Talk about how you’ve been able to go into issues like this and actually create conversation.
DUVERNAY: Well, I think you’re doing it. It’s about sharing information. That’s what we tried to do in “13th.” There’s more to do. You’re adding to it here. You know, the “Me, Too” movements and the “Time’s Up” movements are directly correlated to Prison justice movements.
Specifically, when you look at the large numbers of incarcerated individuals who’ve been sexually assaulted before they even got to prison, so there’s a cycle there, but also when we’re looking at rights for women in prison, you know, the shackling during pregnancy, the withholding of feminine hygiene products, the unsafe exposure to male populations and male staff are things that run rampant.
Connecticut is a place — they were on your map, I’m really looking at, because there are some interesting things going on there in terms of their bill. But you saw, it was a handful of states.
JONES: Not enough.
DUVERNAY: This should be — this should be across the board. It should be federal or it should be something that’s very standardized across the states.
So, you know, I just wanted — it’s about talking about it, letting people have the information, because I believe forward-thinking people who believe in justice and dignity — and that’s a lot of people — if they know the information, then they can take it and run with it.
WINFREY: Yes, and even just seeing that tape, I’m sure there are a lot of people watching in here that this is the first time that thought has ever occurred to them.
DUVERNAY: Information, yeah.
WINFREY: Yeah, it’s information, because people aren’t thinking about women in prisons. They’re not thinking — they’re thinking, “Oh, well, if you’re behind bars, you deserve to be behind bars, so whatever happens to you, happens to you,” so the more you can talk about it and shine a light on it, again, being a warrior of the light, that’s how you do it.
JONES: Yeah, that’s good. Well, listen, you guys…
WINFREY: You’re doing it.
JONES: I keep looking in the monitor and seeing two beautiful sisters who love each other, who care about each other, who challenge each other, who lift each other up, and that by itself is such important medicine. Thank you for being such a beautiful example of sisterhood for this country. I love you very much.
So we’re going to be right back with the two of Oprah and Ava DuVernay, when we get back.
JONES: We are back with Oprah and Ava. Now let’s talk about some of your favorite things. Ava, I want to know from you, who is your favorite person who’s up next? Who’s next? Who’s coming? Who is a rising star we should be looking out for?
DUVERNAY: Well, I have to think about directors, and so there are two directors that I really love right now. There’s a woman named Kat Candler, who’s really brilliant. There’s a woman named Victoria Mahoney who just knocks your socks off. You’ve got to look for these women directors, telling beautiful stories behind the camera.
JONES: Beautiful. And give a round of applause for these two directors. That’s beautiful. And who’s next? Who’s your favorite person that’s coming up next?
WINFREY: I did an interview recently with Yara Shahidi. Do you know who she is?
JONES: Oh, lord.
WINFREY: Lordy, lordy, blew me away.
JONES: She’s amazing.
WINFREY: I mean, she’s amazing. And I remember when I did “The Color Purple,” at the end of it, Quincy Jones said, “Baby, your future is so bright, it burns my eyes.” And I look in her eyes and I see the same thing. I mean, I believe she will be president if she wants to.
WINFREY: Yes, but I believe that she can do anything that she wants. I believe that that’s the one you need to put your eye on.
JONES: That’s amazing. Speaking of next, what is next for you? What is left for you to do on your bucket list? What is next for Oprah?
WINFREY: I actually never had a bucket list. You know what?
JONES: Because you got it all done?
WINFREY: No, no, no.
No, the reason I don’t have a bucket list — and this is what you want to do, folks, wherever you’re listening throughout the world — everybody comes to the planet with your own dream. You want to lean into what life’s dream is for you. You have your dream for life, but life has a dream for you, that which created you, molded you, made you, made you possible here on the planet Earth has a dream for you. And by whatever name you call that, lean into the dream that has already been dreamed for you. Then you don’t have to dream no more. You just lean into the dream. So I am leaning into the dream.
JONES: Lean into it. That’s good.
WINFREY: And it will take me to the next level.
JONES: Well, I hope…
DUVERNAY: It works for you.
WINFREY: It works for me.
DUVERNAY: I’m going to try it.
WINFREY: Lean into the dream.
JONES: Lean on over to the White House. All right…
WINFREY: Lean into the dream.
JONES: Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay, I want to thank you so much for being here. “A Wrinkle in Time” is in theaters right now. Take your daughter, take your son. If you ain’t got them, just take yourself. I am Van Jones, this is “The Van Jones Show.” See you next time.