May 25, 2011 was a sad day. The Oprah Winfrey Show went off the air after twenty-five years. At 32 years old, it was on for the better part of my life. As a young girl, I remember my grandmother and mother watching Oprah. As a teenager, it was my turn to tune in and I continued to do so until that late day in May last year. Over the quarter century, there were moments that I missed but not many. At 4 p.m. I was either home from school in time for a snack or finished with college classes and taking a study break. On the days I wasn't there, I popped in a VHS. By the time I entered the real world and a full-time job kept me from my appointment viewing, thankfully DVR was invented.
While I eagerly awaited Oprah's book club selections, got choked up during the "Angel Network" segments and envied those in the audience during her "Favorite Things" episodes, it was her every day interviews with both celebs and civilians, particularly the women, that I found the most appealing. On the regular, I'd rewind, pause and transcribe meaningful quotes or words of wisdom.
When the show ended, I, naturally, turned to OWN. But beyond Behind the Scenes, I was unfulfilled. I tried to get into Life Class but rehashed and recut episodes even with present day Oprah anecdotes didn't really do it for me. Soon, I stopped watching altogether, resigned to the fact that my days of enriching television were over. I love a good Ellen or Jimmy (Fallon and Kimmel) interview for laughs, a Matt Lauer interrogation for severity and a Hoda and Kathie Lee segment for, well, wackiness, but I longed for the connection I got from an Oprah chat and figured I always would.
That is until I stumbled onto a little show on Lifetime called The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet. I remember its host, Amanda de Cadenet, from her days on the red carpet with Courtney Love. But aside from the tiara-wearing Tinseltown fixture, I had no idea who she was -- and I worked for Us Weekly. Apparently she hosted shows in the UK, married Duran Duran's John Taylor, had a daughter, moved to L.A., became an actress, divorced, turned photographer, married The Strokes' Nick Valensi and had twins. Now to that list, she's added interviewer, a role she was clearly meant to play.
With her natural ease, not to mention setting (most interviews take place in either her or her subject's living room if not a similarly cozy nook prompting many, including the host, to curl up and confess sans shoes), de Cadenet makes the viewer feel like they're in on an intimate chat with some of the most famous, impressive women of our time. Throw in the "average" women testimonials and The Conversation is a well-rounded, honest hour. The absence of a set, studio and live audience add to the stripped-down, raw vibe. And while it's fun, funky and modern with it's laid-back style and free-spirited mantra, it's equally deep and heartfelt.
From more serious subjects such as loss (Gwyneth Paltrow and Kelly Preston) eating disorders (Jane Fonda and Portia de Rossi) and bullying (Gabourey Sidibe) to far lighter fare like favorite sexual positions, de Cadenet and producer Demi Moore, no stranger to struggle herself, strike the right balance between inspiration and entertainment. By presenting a kaleidoscope of accomplished, aspirational women, each with colorful and complicated pasts, shedding light on their obstacles and discussing universal issues we can all learn from and laugh at, The Conversation proves that no matter our backgrounds or bank accounts, we're all on the road to self-discovery and, hopefully, self-improvement.
What's more, it feels like de Cadenet's on the journey with us. She's present, wide-eyed and soaking it all in. One could argue she's having her own aha moments, something Oprah would be proud of.
So, in the spirit of Ms. Winfrey, everyone with me: "A-man-da de Ca-de-NAAAYYYY!"
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