Oprah Talks to Idris Elba and His Wife About Coronavirus

Oprah Talks to Idris Elba and His Wife About Coronavirus—and Their Positive Diagnoses

“This is a moment for our humanity to either rise or not,” Oprah says.

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    The fast spread of the coronavirus has welcomed feelings of uncertainty and bouts of anxiety, but Oprah raises a fair point: “Isn’t it interesting how a pandemic has the possibility of bringing us together in ways that even a week ago, none of us would have been able to predict or expect?”

    In an aptly-titled new series for Apple TV+ called "Oprah Talks," the O of O speaks with thought leaders, healthcare experts, and celebrities who have words of wisdom that can offer solace. "I know that these are challenging times for everyone," Oprah said. "What does this moment mean? In my life I always ask, when crisis shows up, no matter how large or small, what is this here to teach me? I think this is going to be a moment for all of us to rise in our humanity. The question is how do we come out on the other side of this, stronger, better, for ourselves and for each other?"

    Oprah said she's been thinking about what information and comfort can help us get through this—plus what we can learn firsthand from those who have been through it. So for her first episode—available for free at apple.co/-oprahtalks—she interviewed actor Idris Elba and his wife, Sabrina Dhowre, who are quarantined together in New Mexico, where Elba’s latest film was in production.

    On March 16, Elba shared his positive coronavirus diagnosis with the world in a video posted to Twitter, encouraging folks at home to practice social distancing and abide by precautions from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

    But how is Elba really feeling? And, as some fans wondered on social media: Why did his wife, Sabrina, choose to stick by his side despite the contagiousness of the virus?

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    As Elba told Oprah, he “hasn’t witnessed any major symptoms” and is “feeling okay,” explaining he took inspiration from Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson’s candidness about fighting the disease to show the world no one is immune to it. “I never sit still, so from a mental point of view, I feel pretty focused,” he told her.

    After learning that someone he was with on March 4 tested positive for coronavirus, he turned to the doctor on set for a test—the last of three available—to prevent anyone else he worked with from getting exposed. Elba told Oprah he so far isn’t sure how long he has to remain in quarantine, and that as a person with asthma, he’s concerned about his breathing, relying on an inhaler to stay healthy. Coughing and shortness of breath are among the symptoms listed by the CDC.

    Elba also pointed out the a “key factor” to remember is that not everyone with the virus is symptomatic. “It’s interesting and worrying that people are possibly carrying this disease and are seemingly okay, but can spread it easily,” he said. Which explains why, as Oprah learned during their talk, his wife also contracted coronavirus.

    “Actually, I found out this morning, Oprah, that I tested positive,” Dhowre said, telling Oprah she doesn’t regret sticking by his side, and that the thought of leaving him never crossed her mind. “I wanted to be with him. That’s the instinct of a wife. You want to go and take care.”

    She also is feeling healthy: “I don’t feel anything that would come to what people would now expect to be a symptom of coronavirus, which is really strange. It might change in the coming weeks, and we’ll keep everyone updated. But it is worrisome that we’re sitting here, two people, and … we’re asymptomatic.”

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    Together, Elba and Dhowre are choosing to focus on what he describes as the “silver lining”: spending more time with each other. At home, they’re playing video games, chess, and cooking meals. To take proper care of their mental health, Dhowre told Oprah they’re “focusing on what we can control in the moment,” which for her means cleaning and spending time with family. For Elba, it’s about “staying creative” and “checking in” with loved ones.

    He also has picked up a new hobby of playing the guitar. “You know what? He’s not bad. I don’t mind him playing it. It’s kind of romantic,” Dhowre told Oprah, joking that he’s been serenading her.

    Ultimately, they want people across the world to use this time to consider how we can grow as a human race, and to strictly use social media to spread facts—not misinformation—and positivity. “I don’t want people to stop thinking about others. That’s one of the reasons social distancing is so important: not only to protect yourself, but to protect other people you might see,” Dhowre said. “It’s a time for togetherness.”

    Elba wants Americans to urge our government to work on resources that’ll give all of us easy access to coronavirus testing—and to see the light at the end of the tunnel. “We just hope that everyone that’s got this, living with this, is just staying optimistic,” he said. “We’ll look past. And we really hope that everyone just stays focused, stays calm, and think about others as well.”

    Oprah rounded out their conversation with words of wisdom that’ll surely sooth: “It’s here to teach us, show us something about ourselves as individuals and also as a world of people. And this is a moment for our humanity to either rise or not.”


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