Boy Abunda's 5 lessons from Prince Harry, Meghan Markle Oprah interview

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com
Boy Abunda's 5 lessons from Prince Harry, Meghan Markle Oprah interview
This undated image released March 7, 2021 courtesy of Harpo Productions shows Britain's Prince Harry (L) and his wife Meghan (C), Duchess of Sussex, in a conversation with US television host Oprah Winfrey. Britain's royal family on March 7, 2021 braced for further revelations from Prince Harry and his American wife, Meghan, as a week of transatlantic claim and counter-claim reaches a climax with the broadcast of their interview with Oprah Winfrey. The two-hour interview with the US TV queen is the biggest royal tell-all since Harry's mother princess Diana detailed her crumbling marriage to his father Prince Charles in 1995.
AFP / Harpo Productions / Joe Pugliese

MANILA, Philippines — After Boy Abunda aired his controversial interview with Gerald Anderson last March 5, three days later, on March 8, CBS aired Oprah Winfrey’s exclusive with Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Both interviews were the talk of the town in the Philippines, topping YouTube and Twitter’s trends list for that week.

Abunda, who has long been a fan of Oprah, had taken notes and had much to learn from his fellow celebrated talk show host from the other side of the world.

“I enjoyed the interview,” Abunda said of Oprah’s conversation with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 

“As a matter of fact, I might just do an interview reaction to that particular interview. Andami kong natutunan kasi bukod pala d’un sa pinalabas ng CBS, there were outtakes that were not shown to the world,” he told Philstar.com in a virtual press conference last Tuesday.

Abunda hosts FYE Channel’s “The Best Talk” on livestreaming app Kumu, streaming every Saturday starting March 20 at 9 p.m.

According to him, he had at least five takeaways from Oprah’s interview.

Oprah’s gift

“When Oprah was told that there was a member of the royal family who was worried about as to the color of Archie when Meghan was pregnant, I was so interested to complete the whole story, pero alam mo na hanggang du’n lang si Oprah. And apparently when it was Prince Philip and not the Queen who told them that, I was mesmerized by that interview,” Abunda shared.

“The best gift, I think, of Oprah is to be able to do interviews in a casual manner but getting the answers as an audience and getting the answers that I don’t want to hear. I think that’s a gift.”

It made the world think and talk

“It also polarized the world in a way. Some were thinking that it wasn’t good interview. Others said they shouldn’t have done that because the grandfather (Prince Philip) is in the hospital; Queen Elizabeth is 94 years old. And many other things. But me, as an interviewer, as a fan of Oprah, I was mesmerized by it.”


“One of the ways to show your respect to a guest is to know what you’re talking about. And in fact you don’t know, have the humility to say that I’m hearing this for the first time.”

It set a benchmark in TV, social media dynamics

If Boy is to revive his popular TV talk show “The Buzz” about six years since it last aired, he said he will no longer focus on exclusives, but more on commentaries, analyses and confirmatory news to give the program a new texture. 

Most importantly, the new “The Buzz” will embrace the power of social media — since because of social media, “everybody has become a broadcaster, has become what we do.”

“I wish I could do something like ‘The Buzz’ again, but social media has eclipsed talk shows when it comes to exclusives, the landscape has changed,” Boy fretted.

Although “social media has pushed us to obsolescence to a certain extent,” he said, “we can’t afford social media to kill us because television or other functions have distinct functions.” 

“Pinapanood ko kunwari ‘yung Meghan Markle at saka Oprah, ang taray ng CBS, I mean, no streaming! This is television. Mayroong ganu’ng dynamics ngayon, which I think was started by the Oprah exclusive on Meghan Markle. Hindi talaga sila nagpa-stream. Seventeen million people viewed it and another I don’t know how many millions of people viewed it in Britain. When it opened to social media, it exponentially increased. I think storytelling has changed in recent years.”

It was brave but respectful

Like many Filipino interviewers, Abunda’s dream is to have more hard-talk types of interviews in the country, but these are not accepted in Filipino culture yet.

“I couldn’t imagine having these kinds of interviews in this country. Tayo nga, maputol mo lang ang guest sa gitna, bastos ka na eh.”

Although there are other celebrated interviewers like Oprah who have been gaining traction for their capability to provoke to the point of making a guest walk out, for Abunda, keeping a sound relationship with the guest is more important than ratings.

“Pero natutunan ko over the years interviewing public figures, celebrities, no interview is more important than a relationship… Kaya ako kung magbabalato ako, para lang ‘di ako makasakit, ‘di na ko magtatanong. Hihingi na lang ako ng tawad sa audience ko… There are some people who are so brittle. It’s a conflicting choice between inflicting pain and doing your job.”

RELATED: Boy Abunda shares story behind controversial Gerald Anderson interview 

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