Rachael Ray Reflects on Her Talk Show Ending and What She's Most Proud Of (Exclusive)

Rachael Ray
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'The Rachael Ray Show' will soon say goodbye after 17 seasons.

Rachael Ray is saying goodbye to her talk show. In an interview with ET's Rachel Smith, the 54-year-old TV personality looks back on The Rachael Ray Show's 17-year run, reveals why she's not sad to see it end, and looks ahead to the future.

When Ray began her show back 2006, she tells ET she "of course" didn't think that it'd go on for nearly two decades.

"Most things last a couple of years and you're lucky for that and then you move on," she says. "But I'm super grateful. I think the reason we were there is because we have such a great group of people that just kept it real and helped me, let people see themselves as much as celebrities."

And that, Ray says, is what she's most proud of from her show's run.

"The thing I'm proudest of is that people see themselves [on the show]," she says. "We try and show people how extraordinary their neighbor is and how every person can change the world, and the course of the world, from children to people in their 80s that just do things for their communities that blow your mind. That's what I care about the most."

Still, welcoming celebrities on was fun too, no one more so than Michael J. Fox, who was "without a question" Ray's favorite celebrity guest.

"I love his family, his wife, his kids, and that's the most optimistic, coolest person that will just shut you up. He is so cool," Ray gushes. "... I'm just so blessed to know a person that's that optimistic. That is the entire point of everything I try to do in life. Whenever I cook for people, or share with people, or try and show people and ask our producers to help me share with people, it's to make everyone feel more optimistic. Period."

Another person Ray feels grateful to know is Oprah Winfrey, who gave her her start on TV years ago.

"She's the most gracious, most lovely [person]. She's cool and fun and she makes you want to go forward, not say goodbye to anything," Ray says. "... She moves forward and that's what I'm doing. I'm just going to be doing it with some new friends and hopefully many of my old friends, but I'm going to keep working."

Ray is taking Winfrey's words of wisdom in stride, and is looking at her show's finale as a new beginning, not an ending.

"We've had a great success," she says. "I'm still gonna keep working. I'll hire a lot of these guys, whether it's a side hustle for them and they work a little bit or they work a lot. I'm gonna keep on keeping on."

Ray will move forward in her career with a new professional accomplishment, as she was recently inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.

"People that are worker bees, we're not comfortable in situations like this. We like being on the other side of it. I'm supposed to be carrying the tray. I'm not supposed to be standing beside a microphone," Ray tells ET of the honor. "... It's just not my jam. [I'm], of course, grateful and humble, but also intensely nervous."

The nerves come from the fact that her show was about others, and being honored puts the focus on her, Ray explains.

"It's not supposed to be about you. That's the whole point of it, especially our show," she says. "The whole point of my work has always been that I wanted people to know that anybody could be a Rachael Ray or even an Oprah. I believe that and I know she believes that."

"I want people to see themselves and feel good about themselves. That took a whole community of people. I shouldn't get the credit for that," Ray adds. "It took hundreds and hundreds [of people] over these years to bring the messages and the food that I wanted to share with everyone to them. That's not me, that's a group of people that had a common purpose."

Tune in to Thursday's episode of Entertainment Tonight for more of ET's interview with Ray.