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Friday, March 5, 1999 Published at 11:00 GMT


Oprah Winfrey and Beloved

Oprah Winfrey as Sethe in the film Beloved

The film Beloved is based on a novel by Toni Morrison about a former African-American slave visited by the ghost of her dead daughter.

Chat show queen Oprah Winfrey who fought to get the film made also plays the star role of the slave Sethe.

Click here for a film review of Beloved

'Idon't know how to look after children'
One of the central themes of the film is motherhood. Oprah explained to Sheila McLennon from BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour how the film made her feel about having children of her own.

"Because I wasn't mothered well I never felt compelled to do it... I always felt that I don't even know how to do that.

"I'm doing it so badly that the director says 'Are you having a bad day Oprah?' I'm thinking, 'how do you tuck children in? What feeling should you have on your face?' The truth is I didn't know what that feeling was - I've never had it. Nobody did it to me."

'I made the right choice not to have children'
She said after a recent decision she now felt she had made the right choice in deciding not to have children.

"I was left with a four year old for a day, I was so exhausted and stressed out and so grateful to her Mom for coming back to get her that I finally answered that question 'should I have had children?'

"And I realised that the energy and spirit and all consuming energy that it takes to be a good mother is not something I believe that I have."

Not just a film about slavery

Beloved is 'all encompassing, a spritual odyssey'
Oprah said she felt compelled to turn Beloved into a film as soon as she had read the book because the sory resonated so deeply with her.

"It's not a novel about slavery because slavery is over. It's not a novel just about a woman's love for her children and her passion to take care of them.

"It's a love story, it's all encompassing, it's a spiritual odyssey, it's a historical saga, and drama. It's is one woman's quest to reconstruct her memories... it is all of that, it is so complex.

'Toni Morrison said 'I don't see how you can turn Beloved into a film''
"I think what Toni Morrison did is show us what slavery felt like and not just show us what it looked like in the book Beloved.

"And that is what I wanted to do - not just have pictures and images - but to deeply feel the humanity and the power of the emotions.

"What it would take to have that kind of courage? To feel her resentment and abhorrence of slavery so much so that she would kill her children and try to kill herself rather than be taken back into slavery?"

Fighting the flab

Getting down to a size eight
Oprah's long battle with her weight has been one that the talk show host has frequently spoken about.

Perhaps her most publicised weight loss campaign was when she slimmed down to 150lbs to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine.

She said the idea of being on the cover of Vogue was "fascinating" especially after spending her youth being called "coloured", "ugly" and "buckwheat".

"If you want to be on the cover of Vogue and Anna Wintour says you have to be down top 150lbs - that's what you gotta do.

"I didn't think for one moment 'Now I am going to be a Vogue model' nor even did I think I could hold that weight."

'I did not sell out'
Oprah admitted that she has just started another diet and exercise regime, although this time she will not be so strict with herself.

"In order for me to remain size eight I have to work out at least an hour a day and eat almost nothing, and I'm not willing to do that, " she said.

Beloved is released in UK cinemas on 5 March.

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