Whoopi Goldberg

Performer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-hour-plus interview, Whoopi Goldberg talks about growing up in Chelsea, Manhattan, and describes the plays ("The Great White Hope," starring James Earl Jones) and films (In the Heat of the Night, starring Sidney Poitier) that made an impact on her when she was young. She details how she left New York to begin her career as a performer and outlines the development of the topics and characters for her one-woman show, "The Spook Show." She explains how Mike Nichols got involved with the show and helped bring it to Broadway, and tells of how much seeing a Black woman (Nichelle Nichols as "Lieutenant Uhura") in the future-set world of Star Trek meant to her and made her want to be a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Goldberg then describes how she was cast as "Celie" in the film The Color Purple and shares what she learned about film acting and film production from that first film experience. She tells of attending the Academy Awards as a nominee for her role in The Color Purple and also of her experiences as a four-time host of the Academy Awards. She talks about her involvement in Comic Relief specials, getting to know Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, and rebooting The Hollywood Squares. She explains the controversy surrounding her short-lived sitcom, Whoopi, and how it impacted her career, and reveals how Barbara Walters revived her career after Whoopi was canceled by asking her to become a co-host on The View. Goldberg concludes with remarks about the HBO documentary she produced, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley, and shares advice that she would give to her younger self. Dan Pasternack conducted the interview in a joint venture with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Visual History Program on June 6, 2018 in New York, NY.

"I said, 'Gene, do you know that before Lieutenant Uhura, Black people didn’t exist in the future?' He said, 'What?' I said, 'It’s true.' No science fiction existed with us in any of the movies, in anything. 'This [Star Trek] is the first time we appear in the future. Not only do we appear in the future, but this is a gorgeous woman, and she’s the communications officer... Did you not know this was earth shattering?' ... I want to be that for somebody else. I want to be that person that brings a different dimension.”  

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Whoopi Goldberg on wanting to be in the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, because Star Trek was the first show to depict Black people in the future
Whoopi Goldberg on becoming close with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams through Comic Relief specials and getting guidance from them on hosting the Oscars
Whoopi Goldberg on controversy over her short-lived sitcom, Whoopi, and how it impacted her career
Whoopi Goldberg on how Barbara Walters revived her career after Whoopi was canceled -- by asking her to co-host The View
Whoopi Goldberg on the HBO documentary she produced about Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley
Whoopi Goldberg on advice that she'd give to her younger self
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years and influences; on growing up in Chelsea, Manhattan; on how she continued her education after leaving high school and on having then-undiagnosed dyslexia; on the one lie that she told her mother when she was young and the lesson learned from it; on plays ("The Great White Hope," starring James Earl Jones) and films (In the Heat of the Night, starring Sidney Poitier) that made an impact on her when she was young
On how she left New York and began her career as a performer; on performing in San Diego and making her way to San Francisco; on the elements that led to her developing the topics and characters for her one-woman show
On wanting to be in the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, because Star Trek was the first show to depict Black people in the future; on the characters in her one-woman show and the early reception to "The Spook Show"
On how Mike Nichols got involved with "The Spook Show" and helped bring it to Broadway; on hearing about Alice Walker's book, The Color Purple, for the first time, reading the book, and writing to Alice Walker; on several people that Mike Nichols introduced her to, including Al Hirschfeld, Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Carl Reiner

Chapter 2

On how she was cast as "Celie" in the film The Color Purple; on meeting Steven Spielberg; on the lessons she learned about film acting and film production while making The Color Purple; on controversy surrounding the film and attending the Oscars for her nomination in The Color Purple; on her screen credit in The Color Purple
On Jumpin' Jack Flash and playing roles that were originally intended for people of other races and genders; on hosting the Academy Awards four times, preparations for hosting, and memorable Oscar moments
On how she became involved with Comic Relief specials; on becoming close with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams; on a memorable moment with Senator Ted Kennedy; on missing Robin Williams
On rebooting The Hollywood Squares; on controversy over her short-lived sitcom, Whoopi and how it impacted her career; on how Barbara Walters revived her career after Whoopi was canceled -- by asking her to co-host The View
On becoming one of the highest paid actors after Sister Act -- for one movie; on the HBO documentary she produced about Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley; on advice that she'd give to her younger self
Shows

Academy Awards, The

View Show Page
Whoopi Goldberg on attending the Oscars for her nomination in The Color Purple -- with her date, Michael J. Fox
Whoopi Goldberg on her first time hosting the Oscars (1994) -- becoming the first Black person and first solo woman to hosting the Academy Awards
Whoopi Goldberg on becoming close with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams through Comic Relief specials and getting guidance from them on hosting the Oscars
Whoopi Goldberg on becoming close with ABC executive Susan Futterman when hosting the Oscars
Whoopi Goldberg on her second and third times hosting the Oscars and criticism of her as Queen Elizabeth
Whoopi Goldberg on the process of putting together material for hosting the Oscars
Whoopi Goldberg on what it meant to her to be nominated for an Oscar and what the telecast celebrates, and on believing that Oscar hosts should be movie lovers and very knowledgeable about film
Whoopi Goldberg on a memorable Oscar moment with Billy Crystal and Hal Roach

Comic Relief Specials

View Show Page
Whoopi Goldberg on how she became involved with Comic Relief specials and became close with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams
Whoopi Goldberg on going with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams to Washington, D.C. to talk about homelessness for Comic Relief and meeting Ted Kennedy

Hollywood Squares, The

View Show Page
Whoopi Goldberg on rebooting The Hollywood Squares as producer and being "Center Square", and on memorable moments from the show
Whoopi Goldberg on production on the reboot of The Hollywood Squares and the importance of feeding talent and crew well and treating people well

Playboy After Dark

View Show Page
Whoopi Goldberg on Hugh Hefner allowing her to use footage of Moms Mabley singing "Abraham, Martin and John" on Playboy After Dark for free for the HBO documentary Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

Star Trek

View Show Page
Whoopi Goldberg on wanting to be in the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, because Star Trek was the first show to depict Black people in the future

Star Trek: The Next Generation

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Whoopi Goldberg on wanting to be in the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, because Star Trek was the first show to depict Black people in the future

View, The

View Show Page
Whoopi Goldberg on how Barbara Walters revived her career after Whoopi was canceled -- by asking her to co-host The View
Whoopi Goldberg on contemplating leaving The View after the 2016 Presidential election and deciding to stay

Whoopi

View Show Page
Whoopi Goldberg on controversy over her short-lived sitcom, Whoopi, and how it impacted her career

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

View Show Page
Whoopi Goldberg on the HBO documentary she produced about Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on advice that Nan Leonard gave her when "The Spook Show" found success on Broadway
Whoopi Goldberg on Mike Nichols introducing her to Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Carl Reiner and the advice Paul Simon gave her
Whoopi Goldberg on Billy Crystal's advice to her for hosting the Oscars: "the first four minutes are yours as the host; after that, it is about the people who want to know if they won"
Whoopi Goldberg on advice that she'd give to her younger self

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on not being allowed to tell Moms Mabley jokes on the American Comedy Awards

Civil Rights Movement

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on how seeing Sidney Poitier in the film In the Heat of the Night impacted her

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on wanting to be in the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, because Star Trek was the first show to depict Black people in the future
Whoopi Goldberg on the HBO documentary she produced about Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

Donald J. Trump

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on contemplating leaving The View after the 2016 Presidential election and deciding to stay
Whoopi Goldberg on refusing to call the 45th president by his name

George W. Bush

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on controversy surrounding her short-lived sitcom, Whoopi, and how it impacted her career

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on how seeing Sidney Poitier in the film In the Heat of the Night impacted her
Whoopi Goldberg on wanting to be in the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, because Star Trek was the first show to depict Black people in the future
Whoopi Goldberg on the culture at the time (1985) not allowing for the same representation of a lesbian relationship in the film of The Color Purple as in the book
Whoopi Goldberg on the HBO documentary she produced about Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

LGBTQ

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on the HBO documentary she produced about Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

Pop Culture

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on the culture at the time (1985) not allowing for the same representation of a lesbian relationship in the film of The Color Purple as in the book

Television Industry

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on advice that Nan Leonard gave her when "The Spook Show" found success on Broadway
Whoopi Goldberg on Mike Nichols introducing her to Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Carl Reiner and the advice Paul Simon gave her
Whoopi Goldberg on Billy Crystal's advice to her for hosting the Oscars: "the first four minutes are yours as the host; after that, it is about the people who want to know if they won"
Whoopi Goldberg on not being allowed to tell Moms Mabley jokes on the American Comedy Awards
Whoopi Goldberg on advice that she'd give to her younger self

Television and the Presidency

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on controversy over her short-lived sitcom, Whoopi, and how it impacted her career
Whoopi Goldberg on contemplating leaving The View after the 2016 Presidential election and deciding to stay
Whoopi Goldberg on refusing to call the 45th president by his name

Underrepresented Voices

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on wanting to be in the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, because Star Trek was the first show to depict Black people in the future
Whoopi Goldberg on the HBO documentary she produced about Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

Women

View Topic
Whoopi Goldberg on the HBO documentary she produced about Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley
Professions

Actress

View Profession
Whoopi Goldberg on starting to gain traction as a performer in San Diego and starting to do improv
Whoopi Goldberg on Jumpin' Jack Flash and playing roles that were originally intended for people of other races and genders
Whoopi Goldberg on hosting Comic Relief as another character, "Whoopi"

Comedian

View Profession
Whoopi Goldberg on starting to gain traction as a performer in San Diego and starting to do improv

Performers

View Profession
Whoopi Goldberg on starting to gain traction as a performer in San Diego and starting to do improv
Whoopi Goldberg on Jumpin' Jack Flash and playing roles that were originally intended for people of other races and genders
Whoopi Goldberg on hosting Comic Relief as another character, "Whoopi"
Genres

Awards Shows

View Genre
Whoopi Goldberg on hosting the Academy Awards four times, preparations for hosting, and memorable Oscar moments
Whoopi Goldberg on attending the Oscars for her nomination in The Color Purple -- with her date, Michael J. Fox

Comedy Series

View Genre
Whoopi Goldberg on how she became involved with Comic Relief specials; on becoming close with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams; on a memorable moment with Senator Ted Kennedy; on missing Robin Williams
Whoopi Goldberg on controversy over her short-lived sitcom, Whoopi, and how it impacted her career

Game Shows

View Genre
Whoopi Goldberg on rebooting The Hollywood Squares as producer and being "Center Square", and on memorable moments from the show and how the show was run

News and Documentary

View Genre
Whoopi Goldberg on the HBO documentary she produced about Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

View Genre
Whoopi Goldberg on wanting to be in the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, because Star Trek was the first show to depict Black people in the future

Talk Shows

View Genre
Whoopi Goldberg on how Barbara Walters revived her career after Whoopi was canceled -- by asking her to co-host The View, and on contemplating leaving The View
People

Tom Bergeron

View Interview Page
Whoopi Goldberg on Tom Bergeron being a great host of the reboot of The Hollywood Squares

LeVar Burton

View Interview Page
Whoopi Goldberg on wanting to be in the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, because Star Trek was the first show to depict Black people in the future

George W. Bush

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on controversy surrounding her short-lived sitcom, Whoopi, and how it impacted her career

Billy Crystal

View Interview Page
Whoopi Goldberg on becoming close with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams through Comic Relief specials and getting guidance from them on hosting the Oscars
Whoopi Goldberg on Billy Crystal's advice to her for hosting the Oscars: "the first four minutes are yours as the host; after that, it is about the people who want to know if they won"
Whoopi Goldberg on a memorable Oscar moment with Billy Crystal and Hal Roach
Whoopi Goldberg on how she became involved with Comic Relief specials and became close with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams
Whoopi Goldberg on going with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams to Washington, D.C. to talk about homelessness for Comic Relief, meeting Ted Kennedy, and taking a memorable car ride with him

Allen Daviau

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on Allen Daviau teaching her to "find her light" while filming The Color Purple

Michael J. Fox

View Interview Page
Whoopi Goldberg on attending the Oscars for her nomination in The Color Purple -- with her date, Michael J. Fox

Anne Frank

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on being very moved when she visited Anne Frank's house, and the first Oscar award she ever saw in person being at Anne Frank's house, and on how the experience informed the creation of her one-woman show

Susan Futterman

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on becoming close with ABC executive Susan Futterman when hosting the Oscars

Brad Garrett

View Interview Page
Whoopi Goldberg on a memorable moment with Verne Troyer and Brad Garrett on the reboot of The Hollywood Squares

Hugh Hefner

View Interview Page
Whoopi Goldberg on Hugh Hefner allowing her to use footage of Moms Mabley singing "Abraham, Martin and John" on Playboy After Dark for free for the HBO documentary Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

Al Hirschfeld

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on Mike Nichols introducing her to Al Hirschfeld and Hirschfeld drawing her and her characters from her show

James Earl Jones

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on seeing James Earl Jones in the play "The Great White Hope"

Ted Kennedy

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on going with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams to Washington, D.C. to talk about homelessness for Comic Relief, meeting Ted Kennedy, and taking a memorable car ride with him

Moms Mabley

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on the HBO documentary she produced about Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

Steve Martin

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on Mike Nichols introducing her to Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Carl Reiner

Mike Nichols

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on how Mike Nichols got involved with "The Spook Show" and helped bring it to Broadway
Whoopi Goldberg on Mike Nichols introducing her to Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Carl Reiner

Sidney Poitier

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on seeing Sidney Poitier in the film In the Heat of the Night and the impact he had on the industry (and on the viewing audience in the movie theater)

Carl Reiner

View Interview Page
Whoopi Goldberg on Mike Nichols introducing her to Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Carl Reiner

Gene Roddenberry

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on wanting to be in the Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, because Star Trek was the first show to depict Black people in the future

Paul Simon

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on Mike Nichols introducing her to Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Carl Reiner and the advice Paul Simon gave her

Steven Spielberg

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on the circumstances that led to her performing her Broadway show for Steven Spielberg and guests
Whoopi Goldberg on Steven Spielberg wanting her to play "Celie" in The Color Purple but she wanted to play "Sofia" (who was already going to be played by Oprah Winfrey)
Whoopi Goldberg on her process working with Steven Spielberg on The Color Purple -- he referred to other people's performances in films to guide her
Whoopi Goldberg on being nominated for an Oscar for her role in The Color Purple and controversy over the film
Whoopi Goldberg on Steven Spielberg telling her she that her screen credit in The Color Purple would be "And Introducing Whoopi Goldberg"

John Travolta

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on Steven Spielberg referencing John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever to guide her performance in a scene in The Color Purple

Verne Troyer

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on a memorable moment with Verne Troyer and Brad Garrett on the reboot of The Hollywood Squares

Donald J. Trump

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on refusing to call the 45th president by his name

Don Victor

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on performing with a partner, Don Victor, and making her way up to San Francisco

Bruce Vilanch

View Interview Page
Whoopi Goldberg on the process of putting together material for hosting the Oscars

Alice Walker

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on hearing about Alice Walker's book, The Color Purple, for the first time, reading the book, and writing to Alice Walker

Barbara Walters

View Interview Page
Whoopi Goldberg on how Barbara Walters revived her career after Whoopi was canceled -- by asking her to co-host The View, and on working with Barbara Walters

Sam Waterston

View Interview Page
Whoopi Goldberg on being moved by a signed poster of Sam Waterston as Hamlet

Robin Williams

View Person Page
Whoopi Goldberg on first meeting Robin Williams when she began performing in La Jolla, CA
Whoopi Goldberg on becoming close with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams through Comic Relief specials and getting guidance from them on hosting the Oscars
Whoopi Goldberg on how she became involved with Comic Relief specials and became close with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams
Whoopi Goldberg on going with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams to Washington, D.C. to talk about homelessness for Comic Relief, meeting Ted Kennedy, and taking a memorable car ride with him
Whoopi Goldberg on missing Robin Williams and having Billy Crystal on The View after Robin Williams' death, and on suffering several losses one after another

All Interviews

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