To say that Oprah is a total legend would be an understatement.
She started out in early morning television and eventually got her own talk show in 1986. Most talk shows don't end up lasting for more than a few seasons at most, but Oprah managed to celebrate 25 seasons on the air. The Oprah Winfrey Show ran until 2011, although Winfrey still has a huge presence thanks to her other media ventures.
Still, we imagine plenty of fans are upset that they never got the chance to actually see one of her shows taping live. Sure, she has various events and engages with her audience in different ways—but it's not quite the same as being in the electric audience of an episode.
Though it was likely thrilling to see Oprah up close and personal, that didn't mean being an audience member was a total cake walk. In fact, there were actually a ton of rules that audience members had to follow. If Oprah ever decides to have another talk show, she'll likely institute them all again—plus a few extras based on what she's learned over the years.
Whether they're fans or not, audience members definitely want to stay on Oprah's good side. Here are 20 rules her audience must follow when visiting her set.
Okay, let's get real for a second—Oprah can buy herself legitimately anything she wants. The woman has so much money it's ridiculous. So, while the gesture of bringing a gift may be nice and come from a place of good intentions, it's just not necessary. Imagine, if even one audience member in every show taping brought a gift, how many there would be!
Thanks to social media, you can easily reach out to Oprah's team and share some kind words if you want—no gift necessary. Plus, simply for safety reasons, Oprah probably doesn't want to accept anything that's wrapped or boxed up in any way.
When you're as big of a superstar as Oprah, you have to be vigilant about safety. While pretty much all of the audience members coming to the show were fans, you still can never be too careful. So, audience members who attended a taping of the show would have to be patted down before they entered the studio to make sure they weren't bringing in anything that wasn't permitted.
This could include dangerous items, yes, but even items that might lead to the audience member leaking something to the public before the show was released. Oprah isn't about to have anyone spoil her big reveals!
We're betting there are plenty of fans who would have happily gone to at least one taping a week, especially if they lived in Chicago or somewhere nearby. However, the producers didn't let that happen. First of all, Oprah has a ton of fans, so it's only fair that everyone has the chance to experience what a live taping is like. And second, fans who watched the show every single day didn't want to see the same faces in the audience show after show.
Due to all those factors, there was a rule that fans were only allowed to attend one show every season. You could have gone to a maximum of twenty-five shows over the course of her time on air, but no more.
Fans who attend the show just want a chance to experience what it's like to be in the audience. They're likely focused solely on Oprah, and whoever is on the show as a guest that show. The producers, however, have a lot more on their minds—they want every element of the show to be perfect not just for the audience there, but for the millions of people watching at home.
That means that they often moved guests around based on what would look good on camera. They wanted a good balance in the audience, making sure there weren't huge chunks of the same gender, huge chunks where people were wearing the same colour of shirts, and other noticeable details.
Oprah has had a few children on her show over the years as guests, but you won't ever see them in the audience, because there's a rule about that. While some episodes of the show were fairly light-hearted interviews with celebrities or feel-good stories, there were many that covered really dark issues. In fact, there were many episodes that fans of the show didn't even feel comfortable with their children being around when they were watching at home!
It's definitely a case by case basis depending on who the guest is and what they're discussing, but as a rule of thumb, the producers decided to simply not allow children at all.
Oprah has rocked a ton of memorable outfits over her years on the air. And, it certainly isn't easy to keep fans captivated by your outfit day after day—major props to her styling team! Most audience members probably don't have access to a personal stylist in their everyday life, but they may want to take a little extra time deciding what to wear to the show because there are a few rules.
First of all, guests weren't supposed to wear all-white or all-beige clothing because it would look boring on camera. Bright colours were encouraged, and they were told to dress to impress. Also, even in the chilly Chicago winters, coats had to remain outside the studio—all that rustling could potentially impact the microphones.
Oprah's producers wanted to make sure that everyone in the audience looked amazing on camera. So, they tried to implement a few rules that would help make that happen—including the no eating or drinking before taping rule. While some shows might offer their guests coffee or snacks before taping, Oprah never did—and not because she didn't love her fans!
It was simply because they didn't want anyone waiting to enter the studio to spill coffee all over themselves, or to take in a snack and be rustling it in the middle of an intense conversation. So, fans had to make sure they were fuelled and hydrated before heading into Harpo Studios!
This rule may seem a little harsh, but again, it's just a situation where Oprah and her producers were trying to look out for their fans! Now, many celebrities have been captured by the paparazzi eating, and the shots are usually super unflattering. Imagine attending a show and, when the camera finally pans across to where you're sitting, you're captured with your mouth wide open. Yikes!
In order to prevent that happening, no one was allowed to bring food into the audience or eat during the taping. All the attention should be on Oprah and the guest, not the bag of candy in your purse.
Though episodes of the show were only an hour, fans were in the audience for far, far longer than that. After all, there's a lot that goes into the production of a live television show, and sometimes the producers realize they just need a little more footage to make the show work on air. So, fans would often be there for a few hours if necessary—it's a bit of an unpredictable situation.
However, you'd better make sure to clear your schedule for the day if you're tapped to be in the audience, because fans aren't allowed to leave early, no matter what. The reason makes a lot of sense—they can't have any empty seats shown when the show is airing on television.
Oprah is definitely generous with her fans. I mean, who could forget the legendary car giveaways, or the Favourite Things episodes? While giveaways didn't happen on every episode, obviously, there were quite a few times where Oprah surprised her fans with something special.
And, in moments like that, there was a rule in place—you had to cheer if you received something, or just visibly and audibly show your excitement in some way. After all, the producers wanted the audience at home to feel the excitement in the room and get a sense of what it was like to be in the live studio audience.
The experience of meeting a legend like Oprah, and attending a live taping of her show, is definitely a lot for many people to handle. After all, there are some fans who probably waited years and years for the opportunity to be able to make the trip and get tickets and see the show taping. That's just part of Oprah's regular show schedule.
However, there were some episodes that provoked an intense reaction out of a ton of the audience members—like the Favourite Things episodes. Oprah had her audience's backs in that situation and would always have paramedics on standby who were ready to swoop in and help anyone. Hey, if we just won a new car out of nowhere, we'd probably have some heart palpitations too!
Oprah always wants her audience to be learning and growing and looking at the world around them in different ways. So, it makes sense that she'd engage with her audience during breaks on the show. And, she was even gracious enough to give them the opportunity to ask a few questions from time to time!
However, that kind of situation is only rich and beneficial to the audience if people come prepared with thoughtful questions for Oprah. So, instead of just hoping that someone would have a good question in a random audience, fans were pretty much told to have a few things to bring up if they were called on by Oprah.
Oprah tickets were definitely a commodity, and plenty of fans would give just about anything to get their hands on a pair. So, the producers obviously didn't want people backing out at the last minute and having a set of tickets on their hands to give away—many fans travelled from far away to attend the show and couldn't just come at a moment's notice.
So, the show had a rule that if your schedule changed and you were unable to attend a taping you had tickets for, you had to let the producers know and cancel your reservations at least 48 hours before taping. If not, you'd be blacklisted and wouldn't be able to apply to attend any other tapings that season.
This probably wasn't as much of an issue in the '80s and '90s when Oprah was first on the air, but in her later seasons, it was likely a key rule. Oprah wanted her audience to be engaged and fully immersed in the experience of attending a live show taping. She definitely didn't want them staring at their phones, or taking photos or videos on their devices to potentially leak elements of the show prior to airing.
To ensure nothing like that happened, Oprah had a rule where audience members weren't allowed to bring in cameras, cell phones, recording devices or anything like that into the taping. They could be checked and held for you, but they were not to enter the studio, ever.
Often, fans just got tickets to whatever show they could and they didn't choose based on the guest who was attending. However, there were certain shows where Oprah wanted to have a bit of a say on who was in the audience. So, while every episode probably had a good mix of people in the audience, there were certain episodes where the producers would actually hand pick certain audience members to attend that specific episode.
This often happened in episodes where Oprah had some kind of a big giveaway—she would have her team pick people who were truly in need of a little help. Talk about a total sweetheart!
While there were likely plenty of Chicago natives who attended tapings of the show, there were also many fans who came from all corners of the globe to see Oprah live. So, it wasn't just a matter of getting tickets to the show—they'd also have to get plane tickets and book hotel rooms and all that's involved in a regular vacation somewhere abroad.
However, guests pretty much had to take a leap of faith that the show would happen. Now, Oprah didn't cancel many episodes over her 25 years on the air, so she had an amazing track record. There were certain situations, though, where a decision would be made and a certain episode wouldn't be aired.
Over the course of 25 seasons on the air, Oprah definitely became a total professional. She could react to just about any situation with grace and handle anything that happened in her studio. That doesn't mean she was a robot, though! She had plenty of guests with really heartbreaking stories, and there were certain shows where Oprah had to call for a break and take some time away to just compose herself and get her head back where it needed to be.
We love that she's brave enough to admit when she needs a little pause to gather herself—that's why she's so amazing at what she does!
Oprah loves to hear people's stories, plain and simple. There's a reason she was on the air for so many years, day after day, and had such a huge following. She loved to tell everyone's stories and share them with the world, and she expected that from her audience as well as her guests. After all, many of the guests on her show weren't celebrities or even the subjects of any news stories—they were just regular people who had a story to share.
Oprah's team definitely did a ton of searching over the years to uncover some of those stories, but fans were also encouraged to share their stories when they were buying tickets. Who knows—perhaps they'd snag tickets for one show and would appear on another one shortly after!
There's no doubt about it—Oprah's show was crazy popular, and people around the world wanted tickets to attend a live show. It's a simple supply and demand equation—with that many fans, you couldn't just show up for a taping and expect to be able to get a seat right away!
Many fans had to wait for months before they had a chance to attend a show, so that's something you had to be prepared for. Plus, there was also the fact that many fans would have to travel from far away and arrange a vacation in order to see Oprah live, which means they'd want a little notice!
The audience for the Favourite Things episodes aren't any different than a regular show audience—Oprah doesn't magically hold an episode in an arena that seats twenty times as many as the Harpo Studios. So, since that's what the vast majority of people request as the particular episode they want to attend, it makes sense that only a select few actually get the chance.
You can definitely cross your fingers and hope you'll go home with a selection of Oprah-approved items, but you might want to be realistic about it. Chances are, you will never manage to snag those particular golden tickets. There's just too much demand!
Sources: Screen Rant, Oprah