*It has been five years since Oprah Winfrey launched her OWN network, and its initial launch was rocky and met with heavy scrutiny.
Many critics agreed the network wouldn’t last a year unless it produced at least one groundbreaking hit series.
There were numerous reports of troubling financial losses, staff layoffs, angry investors and advertisers threatening to yank ads, but back in 2010, Oprah was hopeful that OWN would overcome some of the expected hurdles of launching a channel and prove to resonate with her core demo, women ages 25 to 54.
“It’s a long-term process,” she told the NY Times, “and I have the vision to see what this network can be in 3 years, in 5 years, in 10 years, as an institution of hope and inspiration.”
Now, five years later Oprah is celebrating the success of her “institution of hope and inspiration,” and she dishes on her approach to the business of entertainment in a new interview with Variety.
“Lorne Michaels (the creator of “SNL”) told me over four years ago that it was going to take five years to get up on its feet,” she said.
Winfrey revealed that she had a moment of enlightenment when she read Gary Zukav’s book, “The Seat of the Soul,” and how it helped her saved a once-struggling OWN Network.
“I had the biggest ‘a-ha’ moment of my life when I read what he had to say about intention,” Winfrey said. “What is the thing that you really intend? Because that is going to determine what actually happens.”
“I wanted to have a way to speak to people and be connected and cultivate more meaningful conversations that mattered to people…..my dream of having this network and programming created to uplift and to entertain,” she said. “We have invested in storytelling. We have created a space where our loyal audience can come week after week.”
Oprah has her partnership with Tyler Perry to thank for helping the channel secure major ratings. Now, she’s focused on a new line up of programming including her upcoming 7-day event, “Belief,” which took three years and 32 countries to produce. She’s also working on a scripted series that she will star in for Ava Duvernay called “Queen Sugar,” based on the novel.
The 61-year-old media mogul also describes how she found what she calls “real freedom” since her talk show ended in 2011.
“My definition of real freedom comes from the movie ‘Beloved,’ where the character Sethe that I played says, ‘Freedom is waking up in the morning and deciding for yourself what to do with the day.’ Imagine that.”