Oprah Winfrey 'sorry' her Switzerland incident caused media frenzy
At the premiere of "Lee Daniels' The Butler" in Los Angeles on Monday, Aug. 12, Oprah Winfrey told media outlets she was sorry for the media frenzy that occurred after she recounted a time she experienced racism during a trip to Switzerland.
In a previous interview with "Entertainment Tonight," Winfrey claimed a clerk at an upscale boutique in Zurich refused to show her a handbag because at $38,000 it was too expensive.
"I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland," Winfrey said at the premiere, according to a video by CNN, which can be viewed below. "I'm really sorry that it got blown up. I purposefully did not mention the name of the store. I'm sorry that I said it was Switzerland."
"I was just referencing it as an example of being in a place where people don't expect that you would be able to be there," she added.
"I didn't have anything that said 'I have money.' I wasn't wearing a diamond stud. I didn't have a pocketbook. I didn't wear a Louboutin shoe. I didn't have anything," Winfrey later said. "You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say, 'I'd like to see this.' That didn't happen."
According to The Associated Press, Swiss tourism officials and the boutique owner apologized for the incident last week, but Winfrey said at the premiere that no apology was necessary.
"It's not an indictment against the country or even that store," she continued. "It was just one person who didn't want to offer me the opportunity to see the bag. So no apologies necessary from the country of Switzerland. If somebody makes a mistake in the United States do we apologize in front of the whole country? No!"
"Lee Daniels' The Butler" marks Winfrey's return to film acting. Her last lead role in a movie was the 1998 film "Beloved." In "The Butler," Winfrey portrays the wife of Cecil Gaines, an African American man who works his way from a laborer on a cotton farm to the position of butler at the White House.
The film, which stars Forest Whitaker as Gaines, is based on the real-life story of Eugene Allen, who served as butler for eight American presidents until his retirement in 1986.
The film also stars Robin Williams as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Melissa Leo as Mamie Eisenhower, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan.
Watch Winfrey talk about the incident in the CNN video below.