Oprah Stars in New TV Show on a Southern Megachurch

By Greg Hernandez from California, CA, USA (Oprah Winfrey at 2011 TCA) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Greg Hernandez from California, CA, USA (Oprah Winfrey at 2011 TCA) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Oprah’s new TV series Greenleaf is set against the backdrop of a Memphis megachurch.

Oprah Gail Winfrey, the American talk show host, media proprietor, producer, actress, and philanthropist, who is considered as one of the most influential women in the world, has returned to the small screen after a gap of five years. It was in 2011 that she ended her signature talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which still remains as the highest-rated talk show in the American television history.

Oprah Stars in New TV Show on a Southern Megachurch[/tweetthis]

During the screening of the 13-episode series, Greenleaf, at the Tribeca Film Festival last Wednesday, Winfrey said that doing the series has been a dream-come-true for her. Winfrey plays the role of an unconventional aunt in the series.

Greenleaf, created by Craig Wright (Emmy-nominated TV writer better known for the series Lost and Six Feet Under), and executive produced by Oprah Winfrey, will debut on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), on June 21, 2016, at 10 p.m. The series will then be regularly aired on Wednesdays at 10 p.m.

Greenleaf follows the life of Grace Greenleaf (played by Merle Dandridge), daughter of Bishop James Greenleaf (played by Keith David) and Lady Mae Greenleaf (played by Lynn Whitfield). The series starts with Grace's return to her home after 20 years, to attend the mysterious death of her sister, Faith Greenleaf.

Set against the backdrop of the sprawling Memphis Megachurch, run by the Greenleaf family, the series shows the amoral world of the Greenleaf family with an elaborate web of secrets and lies. Grace, who is also a reporter, is encouraged by her Aunt Mavis, who possesses incriminating information about a prominent church member, to run an investigation against the church.

According to Craig Wright, the show is critical of the church, however, it takes faith seriously. It is a story about the faith lost, and an attempt to bring the lost faith back. Wright further said the show is not a soap, neither is it a sermon. It is the dramatization of religion in such a way that it does not devalue the religion.

The screening of the first episode received an enthusiastic response from the audience. During the Q&A session, Winfrey told the audience that the essence of the story is that one should not follow the messenger but the message. She said that her real role on Earth is to lift the consciousness of people, and for that she uses the platform of television to show people new ways of seeing themselves and seeing the flaws, problems, and dysfunctions that all of them, including her, have.


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