The Original Sneakerhead: Whoopi Goldberg Shares Her Longtime Love of Sneakers with Complex


Whoopi Goldberg is well-known as a giver of zero fucks, but what is less acknowledged about her—despite her seemingly contradictory identities as both an unapologetic comfort dresser and a constant front-row presence at New York Fashion Week and the Knicks games—is that she’s a bit of a fashion trailblazer.


In fact, Goldberg was one of the first major celebrities—and certainly one of the first female celebrities—to regularly rock sneakers, both on the red carpet and off (she even accepted her 1986 Golden Globe for The Color Purple wearing a pair of Reebok Freestyles). And on a recent trip to sneaker mecca Stadium Goods with Complex, the star of The View and the recently released Nobody’s Fool shared why she was, is, and will always be an avowed sneakerhead.

Whoopi Goldberg stands on the star she received on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame Nov. 13, 2001, in Hollywood, Calif.
Whoopi Goldberg stands on the star she received on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame Nov. 13, 2001, in Hollywood, Calif.
Photo: Vince Bucci (Getty Images)

And unsurprisingly, the reason was pretty practical. “I wanted to be comfortable,” she told Complex’s Joe La Puma. “You know, I can do the heel thing forever, but if I can wear a pair of sneakers, I’m just happier.”

Kicks she was best known for? Reebok Classics, which Goldberg once owned in a spectrum of hues.

“The colors were really vibrant,” she said. “Nobody had seen anything like that before, and so I got them in every color that they had.”

But her all-time favorites? The brand’s Alien Stomper, which were born out of a collaboration with the famed film franchise and were redesigned for a new audience in 2017.


“To me, they were the greatest ever,” Goldberg said.

And aside from being a non-prototypically beautiful black woman in an industry already notorious for pushing black women to the fringes, Goldberg’s individualist style—which, along with her immense talent, was the secret to her runaway success—also made her a target of derision among Hollywood elites.


“Why are you doing that? Why are you wearing [that]?” she recalls others asking her. Her answer? “Because you all are suffering—and you look like you’re suffering. ... Because your feet hurt! ... I’m comfortable, and I don’t care what people think about what I’m wearing.”

Indeed, Goldberg has always dressed for herself, with an equal eye for fun and comfort that extends to her footwear, as she told Complex.


“I just think, what will be most interesting for me if I look down?”

But despite her major capital and ability to indulge in as many sneakers as she likes, Goldberg claims to typically go for “the boring stuff.” Current favorites? Pharrell’s collaboration with Adidas, Nike Air Foamposite Ones, and she has nothing but gracious things to say about Yeezys, maintaining that you sometimes have to separate the artist from the art.


“People who create stuff sometimes are out there,” she said. “And I just feel like, I can’t judge anybody’s craziness, you know. I have my own.”

Apparently, Goldberg’s crazy for sneakers, since she copped four pairs for $1289.08 during her shopping trip at Stadium Goods. It’s nothing new for the multi-hyphenate; she’s just glad the rest of the fashion industry is catching up.


“Look, you get a little older, and people forget all the stuff you did. But you know, sneakers, for me, have always been part of my life,” she said, later adding: “Now, seeing this amazing explosion of sneakers—and they’re being accepted as footwear for any time—I just love that. I love that.”

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?


Old Man Who Barks a Lot

I’d like to share this anecdote about Whoopi Goldberg (this is second-hand, so believe it if you wish).

About 15 years ago, she was eating at a fine dining establishment, and requested a specific bottle of wine. The wine was expensive ($1200), and when they brought it over, she noticed it wasn’t the correct bottle, but one very similar in price. The staff apologized and offered to bring her the new one, and leave the second bottle on the table, gratis.

Whoopi suggested a different arrangement: She’d pay for both bottles, and let the staff drink the incorrectly opened one. When the people eating with her asked her why she did it, her response was something along the lines of “I can drink like this any time I’d like now, but when I was working as waitstaff, I never had the chance to try something like a $1200 bottle. Now that I can, I’d like to share that.

Again, might be BS, but the person who told me this story was not the kind to embellish.

Also, I used to be a regular at one of the diners in San Diego where she used to be a dishwasher (or cook, not sure). She signed the wall in the kitchen. It says something like “You’d better not paint over this.”

They haven’t.