Oprah Winfrey has shared a touching tribute to one of her biggest role models, Barbara Walters, who passed away one December 30th at the age of 93.
“Without Barbara Walters there wouldn’t have been me – nor any other woman you see on evening, morning, and daily news. She was indeed a Trailblazer,” wrote the OWN network founder on Instagram, along with a throwback photo of the two of them.
“I did my very first television audition with her in mind the whole time. Grateful that she was such a powerful and gracious role model. Grateful to have known her. Grateful to have followed in her Light.”
This isn’t the first time Winfrey has mentioned emulating her role model. In Walter’s last appearance on The View – a show created by Walters herself – Winfrey showed up as a guest host to mark her mentor’s retirement from the industry.
During the episode, Winfrey recalled the early days of her career spent emulating her role model.
“When I auditioned for my first television job, I walked in not knowing what to do so I pretended to be Barbara Walters,” Winfrey recalled of the start of her career.
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“I pretended to be her. I sat like Barbara. I crossed my legs like Barbara. I tried to talk like Barbara. I had Barbara in my head for about a year until one night I mispronounced Canada and called it Ca-nada. And that is not what Barbara Walters would do.
“And it was the first time I had a breakthrough to be myself, but you paved the road for that to happen for me.
“I want to thank you for being a pioneer and everything that word means. It means being the first; the first in the room to knock down the door, to break down the barriers, to pave the road that we all walk on. I thank you for that. And I thank you for the courage it took every day to get up and keep doing it,” Winfrey told Walters in 2014.
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During her legendary career, Walters interviewed a number of high-profile people, including US President Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, Monica Lewinsky, Cuban President Fidel Castro and even Vladimir Putin.
Her interview with Lewinsky on 20/20 in 1999 drew in a record-breaking 74 million viewers. This was the biggest audience ever for a journalist’s television interview.
Walters passed away “peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones,” according to a statement made by her publicist Cindi Berger.
“She lived her life with no regrets. She was a trailblazer not only for female journalists, but for all women.”
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