“We was girls together.” That’s the Toni Morrison quote I’ve often used in reference to my very best friend in the world, who has held that title since pretty much the day she and I met, at ages 18 and 19, respectively. The quote is from Sula, one of the many favorites we’ve shared over the course of our almost 25-year friendship—a period of our lives that gives new meaning to the term “growing up together.”
Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King met at about the same point in their lives—22 and 21, respectively—and their friendship has now endured for over 40 years; approximately as long as my bestie and I have been alive. In fact, 19 years ago, Gayle was there to cheer Oprah on as she launched O magazine, as she has cheered her on in any number of stratospheric successes in the years before and since.
Now, Oprah’s celebrating Gayle’s success, after the latter secured the reportedly $11 million bag this year with CBS and even landed on the cover of Time’s 2019 100 Most Influential People issue. To commemorate what Oprah refers to as “a rising moment,” she has given her bestie the very rare honor of appearing alongside her on the September cover of O Magazine, rightfully titled “the Friendship issue.”
“The fact that she’s experiencing such recognition and success for doing what she’s always loved fills me with pride and joy,” Oprah writes in the issue, where she also reflects on the decadeslong friendship that defies any negative tropes about female competition, particularly between black women.
For years, people have marveled at our friendship—and sometimes misunderstood it. But anyone who has a soulful bond with a friend, a friend who would do anything for you, who revels in your happiness and is there to comfort you in your sadness, gets it exactly.
In our friendship, they see their own connections. It’s why people often introduce their best friends to me as “She’s my Gayle.”
Having such a friendship myself, I agree—and also with Oprah’s belief that “A true friend can’t be jealous of you, or want to take advantage of you in any way,” as she attempted to dispel the perception that Gayle—who helped Oprah propel O magazine forward, followed by OWN network—had been living in the shadow of the “queen of all media.”
“The truth is, she always felt not a shadow, but the light,” Oprah writes. “We couldn’t have remained friends if she’d perceived it as a shadow. I would have sensed that, and I wouldn’t have been able to be as open.”
It’s the kind of friendship we should all hope to have—and better yet, hope to deserve and reciprocate. As long-term relationships go, I’d have to concede that Oprah and Gayle’s appears to be goals.
That said: Moji, if you ever have a magazine and take 19 years to put me on the cover, we’re gonna need to have a talk.