How “The Handmaid’s Tale” Recruited Oprah for a Secret Cameo

The talk show star plays an important, if uncredited, character in this season's episode 11.

Handmaid's Tale
Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid's Tale (2017)

Viewers of The Handmaid’s Tale were probably as shocked as the character June when they heard Oprah Winfrey’s voice in season two’s 11th episode, entitled, “Holly.”

Oprah Winfrey lent her voice to a role of a radio host, who Offred/June hears on a unauthorized channel broadcasting over a car radio.

“We’d heard Oprah was a fan of the show, and had a story idea, and thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if… So we asked and she said yes, and it was a lovely, easy process,” showrunner Bruce Miller says, according to Variety. “The radio segment she recorded was inspired by the free radio of the Allies from World War II.  It was an absolute honor to have Oprah featured on the show, and especially thrilling as she was the one who presented us with the Emmy last year.”

The writer of the episode, Kira Snyder, said she did not know that she was writing for Oprah when she was working on the script, but hearing Oprah say the words “gave me chills.” Synder wrote about a page of content once she knew it would be Winfrey so there would be options to pick and chose from.

Winfrey’s unnamed character is “broadcasting from somewhere in the Great White North” and revealed information about “economic aid” coming in, as well as the fact that “in the United Kingdom additional sanctions on Gilead were announced, as well as plans to raise the cap on American refugees relocating from Canada,” according to Variety. 

“Now a tune to remind everyone who’s listening — American patriot or Gilead traitor — we are still here,” she said in the scene. “Stars and stripes forever, baby.”

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