Don’t expect Oprah Winfrey to stop working anytime soon.
ET’s Nischelle Turner spoke exclusively with the icon and her longtime best friend, Gayle King, on their Girls’ Getaway Cruise on Holland America Line, where Winfrey talked about turning 65 years old on Jan. 29.
“It is a milestone,” she acknowledges. “It’s an interesting thing .. Gayle was saying, ‘Are you feeling some kind of way?’ I go, yeah actually, I am feeling some kind of way because it’s the number of which the United States government has said you’re officially old. You are now going to retire and … all my friends are sending me, like, ‘Did you get your Medicare card? I think you’re gonna be OK.'”
But Winfrey says she definitely isn’t planning to retire.
“I don’t believe in it,” she notes when asked about the possibility. “I don’t believe in it and the other day somebody said, ‘Oh, I see you’re now here and ’cause you’re retired.’ And I go, ‘No.’ I was in the bookstore, I was buying a book and the woman said, ‘Oh so you’re doing a lot of reading on your retirement’ … and I started to turn around and give a whole lecture. ‘I’m not retired.’ But I thought, ‘OK, just take it.’ I said, ‘Thank you, don’t need a bag.'”
Winfrey insists that aging hasn’t been hard on her, especially when she thinks about those who died young, specifically, Princess Diana. The beloved royal died in 1997 from a car crash and was just 36 years old.
“I always think about the people who didn’t make it,” she explains why getting older doesn’t bother her. “I think about the people, I think about the number, and I’ve been thinking about it since my 40s. Like, I remember when Princess Diana died and I thought, ‘Oh my god, she’s never gonna make it to 50.'”
“I remember because Gayle called me that night saying something’s up and they’re not telling you, and I was thinking, she can’t be dead because she’s not even 40,” she continues. “So for every single birthday that I get to experience, I think it’s a gift and a blessing. I think about the people who didn’t make it.”
Winfrey is also grateful for wisdom that comes with age. The media mogul says if she could tell her 25-year-old self one thing, it would be to say no more often.
“When I was 25 I thought I had to say yes to everything anybody asked me to,” she admits. “I thought, ‘Well, they asked.’ And even Gayle says even now to me, ‘But they said it would mean a lot to them.’ I go, ‘But it doesn’t mean a lot to me.’ So, the wonderful thing about being 65 is you do exactly what you want to do.”
“If you can’t do that, if you can’t claim doing exactly what you want to do, then you haven’t earned the right to be here,” she adds.
Tune into ET on TV on Tuesday, Feb. 5, for more; check your local listings.
In honor of Winfrey’s milestone birthday, watch the video below to relive some of her most iconic moments.