Oprah Reveals How She Demanded Equal Pay for Her Female Staffers

TV host and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey sat down with TIME for an iconic interview series, TIME First, a project highlighting groundbreaking women in different fields.

Winfrey was the first woman in history to own and produce her own talk show—and a hugely successful one at that.

During the interview, she revealed she threatened to quit The Oprah Winfrey Show if the female producers on her talk series didn’t receive a pay raise.

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She said:

“I built this show around myself and the producers. We were young women in our 30s trying to figure it out and find our own way. I was making a lot of money, and my producers were still getting the same salary.

I went to my boss at the time and I said, ‘Everybody needs a raise.’ And he said, ‘Why?’”

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“He actually said to me, ‘They’re only girls. They’re a bunch of girls. What do they need more money for?’

I go, ‘Well, either they’re gonna get raises, or I’m gonna sit down. I will not work unless they get paid.’

And so they did. And while I was waiting for the bosses to pay them, I paid them myself in the interim.”

From there, the media mogul went on to become a very vital voice and resource for women and girls across the world, even founding her own Leadership Academy in South Africa.

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Winfrey admitted a lot has improved in the area of inequality in the workplace:

“A lot of things have changed since then. I think there are a lot of us of my generation and other generations who swallowed a lot.

There’s an old spiritual that says, “Trouble don’t last always.” I always knew there would come a time when I would be in a position where I wouldn’t have to swallow it.”

The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated talk show in TV history, ran for 25 years.

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