Oprah Winfrey’s Focus Returns to Her First True Love: Television

"Belief" New York Premiere
Photograph by Jamie McCarthy—Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey wears many hats, including businesswoman, philanthropist, author, and producer. But her first hat—and the one that she is now expected to be donning more and more frequently—is television star.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Oprah’s OWN network is experiencing remarkable growth. Its average prime-time viewership has grown roughly 30% in the past two years, and it has become the most-watched network for African-American women—impressive for a network that launched just five years ago.

The network, for which Oprah acts as the CEO, CCO, and chairwoman, initially launched as a platform for self-improvement shows, but has since—under her leadership—transitioned to dramas. Executives tell the Journal that Oprah is more involved in the network, “hearing pitches for TV shows, reviewing scripts and sending ‘notes’ on how to improve programming.”

Just last week, OWN debuted the trailer for Greenleaf, a 13-part church drama series starring Oprah herself. The role will be her first scripted one in over a decade, according to Essence, and is a return to a long-time dream. “Years ago, before I even came to Chicago, I just wanted to be on a soap opera,” she told New York Magazine in a 2013 interview.

Oprah has had a long career on the small screen, starting with her first job as a local anchor on Baltimore’s WJZ-TV in 1976. Her eponymous talk show first aired in 1986, running for 25 years until its last season finale in May 2011.

Oprah’s representatives could not be reached for comment at this time.

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