Oprah is spreading her wings even more and flying the Chicago coop. Oprah has had an eventful career and does not intend to end it with the end of the Oprah Winfrey Show.
There was great buzz around Oprah aspiring to Broadway, but she also wants to get a handle on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Earlier this month, Oprah acknowledged to Entertainment Weekly that OWN is not where I want it to be.
Part of that reason may be the heavy schedule of The Oprah Winfrey Show. In the interview, Oprah shared, I feel like I have not begun to give anything to OWN. I wouldn't even say 10 percent of my time is on OWN right now. But it will be. [After the end of the OWS,] I can start to give my attention to OWN that it deserves. It's going to improve exponentially with the amount of time and service I can give to it.
She will be spending some time at Harpo Studios, the studio of Harpo Productions, Inc., located in the Near West Side neighborhood of Chicago. Harpo Productions, Inc. is founded by Oprah, the name is 'Oprah' spelled backwards. The company also houses film and radio divisions in addition to TV production.
Broadway certainly is not off Oprah's radar. She has passion for it and has had her share in acting on screen and on stage. She's starred in movies for 25 years and is set to star in the HBO film, Ruined. She was also intimately involved in the theatrical musical adaptation of The Color Purple.
Her impact behind and before the screen is certainly greater than anyone could have expected. Chicago named a West Loop street in her honor earlier this month and she could no less part from the city permanently.
I have spent more time here than any place in my lifetime, said Winfrey to the Chicago Tribune. It was love at first sight for me. From the very first day I arrived in the city (in 1984), I remember thinking that if I didn't get hired at WLS, I would have to change my profession so that I would live in Chicago. I knew that this would be my Tara.
Her love was clear, but the city's was a battle for her.
I got a lot of criticism from the black community about not having enough black people on the show. Huggin' white people too much. ... Dennis Swanson (then program director at WLS) hired me at a time when the city was pretty racially volatile. They told me there were racial land mines in Chicago. They told me I would never survive in the city. Can you imagine how many people called Dennis up and said, 'Get that black girl off the TV,' without actually saying 'black girl'? according to the Chicago Tribune.
But Winfrey's persistence is evidenced by the rise of her show and her impact on so many people's lives.
She said, None of this could have happened anywhere else, she said. It couldn't have happened the way it happened if we were in LA. The thing I held steadfast was the heart of the country. ... That was better exhibited, experienced and executed through Chicago. ... It would have been harder to maintain a dedicated staff. We would have all been caught up in the 'let's do lunch, babe' thing. It would have been harder to maintain a connection to what was real. What was of value. Being here grounded me, and grounded my team.
After 25 years of making history, Oprah is spreading her wings even more, but I will not be a stranger, she said. You will see me eating at RL. I walked into the East Bank Club the other day and ran around the track. I was thinking, wherever you go in the world, you're never going to find a gym like that. And I should have gotten my ass in there more often.
However Oprah's career further develops in media, on Broadway or cable, we think she'll be very intentional about the role she selects, and the script she ultimately chooses from that stack in her bag will tackle issues of race or social justice, bringing attention to them as only Oprah can, writes Jenée Desmond-Harris of the Root.
Will OWN take flight to pwn America?