Media mogul discusses her return to the big screen and more...
By Mitzi Miller
It’s been 15 years since Oprah Winfrey’s last appearance in a feature film. Like everything the Kosciusko, MS native attaches her name to, 1998’s Beloved was a labor of love. But unlike the majority of projects the seemingly unstoppable media mogul touched up until that point, the supernatural period piece was a box-office flop. It earned just over $8 million its opening weekend.
The public misstep exposed a chink in Winfrey’s armor that fans and critics would not see again until 2011, when, despite much fanfare, her fledgling OWN network struggled to find its footing alongside more established cable brands. But Oprah didn’t become the first Black female billionaire by surrendering to perceived failure.
Rather than tuck tail and run, she revamped her approach to executing the brand’s vision. Now, OWN’s ratings are up— thanks in part to her recent partnership with Tyler Perry— and she’s back on the big screen this month in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Don’t call it a comeback; it’s just another example of the Oprah effect.
You receive tons of scripts. What was it about Lee Daniels’ The Butler that moved you to come off your acting hiatus?
The Butler is a tribute to the working class Negro of that time and all of the unsung heroes whose names never made a history book. Through their perseverance, stability, drive and willingness to create a better life for their family, they became the foundation for the civil rights movement.
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