How The Handmaid's Tale Landed That Surprise Oprah Winfrey Cameo

the handmaid's tale hulu elisabeth moss june

Spoilers ahead for Episode 11 of The Handmaid's Tale Season 2.

The Handmaid's Tale landed a fantastic cast to bring the characters from Margaret Atwood's legendary novel to life, and there's more than one Emmy-winner among the ranks. Still, one big-name cameo in the latest episode of the dystopian series undoubtedly came as a surprise to viewers. Oprah Winfrey herself had a cameo in the "Holly" episode of The Handmaid's Tale, although not everybody may have caught her contribution. Winfrey's cameo came via radio broadcast. Showrunner Bruce Miller revealed how the show got Winfrey on board, saying this:

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. 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.

Apparently, recruiting one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry (and the deliverer of a truly unforgettable Golden Globes speech) was as easy as asking her. Bruce Miller's reveal (per Variety) that Oprah Winfrey is a fan of the show and it was easy to get her on board for a voice cameo may come as a shock, but there is the point that recording a voice cameo wouldn't have been as intensive as making a cameo on screen in a dystopian setting.

In case you missed the episode, Oprah Winfrey made her cameo when June turned on a car and started fiddling with the radio. Instead of just hearing static or some kind of Gilead-approved program, she heard the voice of somebody broadcasting from "the Great White North" with a message of hope for those listening. According to the unnamed person on the radio, India and China had promised "economic aid" to the U.S. government based out of Anchorage, and the U.K. announced "additional sanctions" on Gilead as well as its intention to "raise the cap" on American refugees looking to relocate from Canada.

The radio broadcaster ended her speech of hope with this message before playing "Hungry Heart" by Bruce Springsteen:

Now a tune to remind everyone who's listening, American patriots or Gilead traitors: we are still here. Stars and stripes forever, baby.

The time frame for The Handmaid's Tale has never been specified on the show, but the technology and societal structure seen in the flashbacks to before the U.S. became Gilead indicates that the series is set sometime around present day, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that the radio broadcaster was actually the Oprah Winfrey of the Handmaid's Tale universe. Neither Bruce Miller nor episode writer Kira Snyder weighed in on whether or not the voice on the radio came from Winfrey playing herself. Still, if Oprah Winfrey exists in the dystopian reality of The Handmaid's Tale, isn't broadcasting a message of hope exactly what we would expect from her?

Only time will tell if The Handmaid's Tale will ever introduce the broadcaster in the flesh and bring Oprah Winfrey in front of the camera. The show has already been renewed for Season 3, so we shouldn't rule an appearance from Winfrey out. Since Season 2 isn't over yet, be sure to check out Hulu on Wednesdays to see what's left of June's story before hiatus. For some viewing options once Handmaid's Tale is done for the season, take a look at our summer TV premiere guide.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).