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Why Oprah Winfrey Is In The Handmaid’s Tale (Is It Actually Her?)

Season 2 of Hulu’s series The Handmaid’s Tale seemingly included a cameo from talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey has been known to occasionally dip her toe into acting, but despite this, there has still been a lot of debate regarding if she actually appeared in The Handmaid’s Tale. Celebrity cameos aren’t something that the dystopian drama is known for, leading to speculation as to whether the iconic figure actually appeared.

Based on Margaret Atwood’s book of the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale follows June Osborne, an enslaved woman who lives in the fascist theocracy of Gilead. Most of The Handmaid’s Tale follows characters attempting to escape Gilead, fleeing to an American colony in Canada, where they later attempt to take down their former home. The Handmaid’s Tale is tragic, dark, and graphic, making a cameo from a celebrity like Winfrey all the stranger.

Oprah Winfrey Has A Voice Cameo In The Handmaid’s Tale
Elizabeth Moss as June Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale season 1
It’s true: Oprah Winfrey does have a small cameo in The Handmaid’s Tale. In The Handmaid’s Tale season 2, episode 11, “Holly,” June has nearly escaped Gilead, having escaped to an abandoned mansion where she plots a way to get to the Canadian border. At the beginning of the episode, June finds a garage with a working car, realizing it is her golden ticket. She gets in the car and starts it, and that’s when the brief cameo from Winfrey occurs.

Winfrey’s appearance is one of The Handmaid’s Tale’s few cameos and it is by far the most subtle. Once June starts the car, a Little American radio station comes on, known as Radio Free American. Oprah’s iconic voice comes out of the car speakers, explaining that the UK is getting involved in the Canada-Gilead conflict before introducing Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart.” The voice-only cameo is right in Winfrey’s wheelhouse, with the iconic talk show host working perfectly as a fictional broadcaster.

Is Oprah Winfrey Playing Herself In The Handmaid’s Tale?!
Oprah Winfrey in A Winkle In Time
Since Oprah Winfrey is hosting some kind of news show in The Handmaid’s Tale, viewers would be forgiven for thinking she is appearing as herself. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey isn’t playing herself. Speaking with THR, co-executive reporter and writer Kira Snyder explained that Winfrey isn’t meant to be her real-world persona, as the radio scene was written before Winfrey became involved. The host of one of Canada’s anti-Gilead radio stations is a perfect role for Winfrey, even if she’s not playing herself.

Snyder revealed that Winfrey’s cameo wasn’t planned initially, explaning the interesting story behind her appearance. In actuality, Winfrey is a huge fan of The Handmaid’s Tale and the series reached out to her after realizing how perfect she would be for the role. Although many people missed Winfrey’s cameo, her role in the series is always an interesting detail in the history of The Handmaid’s Tale.


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