*For decades, my girl Oprah has spoken passionately about “intention.” She’s famously asked many guests what their “intention” was before sitting down to talk with them, and she seems grounded in a belief that if your intention is pure and significant, your work will bear fruit.
So it was not really a surprise to learn that the Queen of All Media wasn’t concerned with the possible backlash against her upcoming drama ‘Greenleaf,’ a one-hour scripted drama which promises to pull the curtain back from the inner workings of the black church and the family that runs one.
“Our intention is to use this as a platform for telling great stories,” the 62-year-old media tycoon said, during a press screening of Greenleaf. “Our intention is to be mindful and respectful of the church as an institution. Only good can come from that.”
The family drama focuses on a fictional megachurch in Memphis, Calvary Fellowship World Ministries, headed by Bishop James Greenleaf and Lady Mae Greenleaf, played by Lynn Whitfield. Viewers soon learn that the good Bishop’s life is more sinister than godly. Winfrey herself returns to the screen, playing Mavis McCready, Lady Mae’s sister, in the new series.
While the show’s explicit content might rankle some, Winfrey is undeterred (that’s one of the things I love about her!).
“I grew ups in the black church,” Winfrey shared. “I wouldn’t be who I am without it.” She said from the beginning, she told Greenleaf’s writers that the show wasn’t “…just about a church, it’s the nurse, doctor, lawyer, psychologist, our therapy, nurturer, support, it’s our rock.”
With Fox’s success with the drama Empire, which is centered around a prominent black family, Winfrey wants similar ratings for her OWN network.
Let’s hope that Greenleaf is of better quality than OWN’s scripted Tyler Perry vanity projects, like The Have And The Have Nots. The show may be a guilty pleasure of yours, but let’s face it: that show won’t be winning any writing or directing Emmys any time soon. Several of the excellent actors on the show, including the phenomenal Tika Sumpter and John Schneider, are mired each week in banal dialogue and ridiculous storylines, even for the nighttime soap format.
Typically, Winfrey has lofty goals for her latest venture.
“For me what I’m most interested in creating are stories that feature people of diversity,” Winfrey said. “People of color, black people of color that allow us to be real. I think the way you break down barriers in a society that doesn’t see you as fully human is to show your humanity.”
For more information about Greenleaf, visit the OWN network website. The show will premiere Tuesday, June 21 at 10pm ET/PT.