While she may be most commonly associated with living in the Windy City, even Oprah Winfrey has had to face the classic East Coast–West Coast dichotomy.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey revealed why she quit her 60 Minutes gig (she was told she was “too emotional”), how she’s figuring out who to endorse for president (she lovingly refers to the White House hopeful Pete Buttigieg as “Buttabeep, Buttaboop”), why Barack and Michelle Obama “can do any damn thing they want” when it comes to their Netflix production deal, and why she signed on to play Mrs. Which in A Wrinkle in Time last year (she just “wanted to go to New Zealand and wear the costumes,” naturally). The interview also let the readers in on a little secret to the Queen of All Media’s success, which has a lot to do with where she lives and how she starts her day.
In the interview, Winfrey admitted that while she has considered living in New York and working on Broadway, after putting herself through a thought experiment to see if the frenetic energy of the city could jibe with her daily routine she ultimately decided not to move to the East Coast. “I’ve wanted to do it. But then this is what I did. On one of my visits to New York, I actually put myself in the space of: You live in the city now and this is your corner and this is where you walk your dogs. Are you only going to bring one dog or are you going to bring all the dogs? This is where you’re going to go to get groceries. This is your dry cleaner. How are you going to feel being in this city without trees and grass? So I put myself in the future and walked myself through it, and I thought, ‘I can do it for a month, I can’t do it for six.’” she said. To be fair, bringing five dogs outside at once in the city is a hassle for anyone, and the lack of nature would be undesirable for someone who gets a lot of spiritual fulfillment from being outside.
“I am enhanced and fulfilled by my association with nature,” Winfrey said, before launching into the details of her daily regimen, which includes waking up in the middle of the night, visually taking in the moonlit waters for a minute before hitting her blackout shades so that she can sleep in for another few hours, and then greeting the day, quite literally. “I have this whole crazy-ass routine [in Santa Barbara]. It’s only after I get up to pee after 3:30 a.m. that I will hit the blackout [shades] so that the sun doesn’t wake me up because then I get to see all the benefits of the night. [I get to] see the moonlight on the ocean. Then I have the morning ritual where I hit the shades and I just wait to see what the day is. Every day I go, ‘Look at you, day. Look at you!’ That’s not going to happen here [in New York],” she told the publication.
Waking up at 3:30 in the morning is hardly shocking; most television personalities have to get up long before the crack of dawn, especially if they host a morning show. (Just ask Winfrey’s best friend and collaborator, the news anchor Gayle King, whose alarm goes off at 3:20, if you are skeptical.) It’s the ritual of waking up, looking outside, then snoozing with the blackout shades until later in the morning that seems unlike Winfrey; but shouting her salutations to the world does feel on-brand.
And after Winfrey greets the day, there are various permutations of how the rest of her day could pan out. According to an interview she gave to Harper’s Bazaar last year, after brushing her teeth, letting her five dogs outside, making her favorite espresso, doing her morning meditation, and getting in some exercise, she’ll get a jumpstart on handling business. If it’s a Thursday, however, you know she’s going to be outside in her garden for Harvest Day following her workout.
Now, Winfrey could technically still greet the day by saying, “Look at you, day. Look at you!” in New York (or anywhere in the world, for that matter), but it might not be as transcendent of an experience as it is when she says it from the windows of an ocean-view property in California. And even if she did move to New York, we can’t risk losing that weekly Harvest Day content in our feeds.