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08/16/2013 08:46 am ET

How Wil Haygood's Reporting On Eugene Allen Inspired 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' (VIDEO)

Near the culmination of President Barack Obama's first campaign, Washington Post reporter Wil Haygood was on the campaign trail, in search of a historic feature story about segregation and the White House. He couldn't have imagined it would lead to the making of a powerful film with an all-star cast -- but that's exactly what happened after Haygood got a tip about a remarkable butler who had served eight presidents over the course of more than three decades.

From the set of "Lee Daniels' The Butler," the movie inspired by the real-life butler from Haygood's reporting, Oprah chats with Haygood about the fateful turn of events that helped launch the film.

After receiving the tip, Haygood tracked down Eugene Allen, who started working in the White House as a pantry man during the Truman administration.

Four days before President Obama's election, Haygood visited Allen and his wife at their home in Washington, D.C. "He had never been interviewed," Haygood says of Allen. "Nobody had done any stories on him."

Haygood wasn't just the first, but also the only journalist to ever interview Allen about his incredible experience in the White House. When Haygood's article was published, it became an immediate sensation and, just weeks later, Columbia Pictures bought the rights to Allen's incredible story.

"Lee Daniels' The Butler" opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, August 16.

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