Since launching the OWN network in 2011, Oprah Winfrey has interviewed a number of controversial and influential celebrities on her hit series, Oprah’s Next Chapter. Most recently, she visited the set of Shonda Rhimes’s latest ABC drama, Scandal, to speak with Rhimes, the show’s star Kerry Washington, and the show’s real-life inspiration, crisi manager Judy Smith.
Episodes with Jamie Foxx and Justice Sonia Sotomayor are next in the Next Chapter lineup, exemplifying the diverse pickings that have attracted many to this series. Of the 41 episodes aired thus far, those featuring Rihanna, Usher, Pastor Joel Osteen, Steven Tyler, the Kardashians and Whitney Houston’s family drew in an impressive total of 12.6 million viewers, according to media reports.
Looking at the ratings alone, it’s clear that big names mean big numbers. Still, Oprah became the queen of media not by playing it safe, but by choosing novel interview subjects and remarkable pioneers. In light of the second season coming to a close, here are a few people Oprah ought to consider landing for the third season of Oprah’s Next Chapter.
1. Audra McDonald
This five-time Tony winner shares the record for most Tony Awards with theater veterans Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury. On Broadway, McDonald has starred in hit productions including Ragtime, Raisin in the Sun and, most recently, Porgy and Bess. Her major role on Shonda Rhimes’s ABC hit Private Practice (as Dr. Naomi Bennett) introduced her to mainstream audiences. As one of the few African-American thespians from her generation to have reached such heights in her profession, McDonald would undoubtedly provide a wealth of anecdotes and lessons gathered from her journey to the top.
2. RG3 (Robert Griffin III)
Expectations for American football quarterback Robert Griffin III were set high when the 22-year-old was selected by the Washington Redskins for the second pick of this year’s draft. A Heisman Trophy winner in 2011, RG3 has earned endless accolades; he’s considered one of the most athletically gifted quarterbacks we’ve watched play in years. In addition to fans heralding his electrifying stunts on the field, several big name companies like Adidas, Subway, Gatorade, EA Sports and Nissan have tapped RG3 to endorse their products. Oprah would be wise to interview this quickly rising superstar in the infancy of what’s sure to be a legendary career.
3. Frank Ocean
At the fresh age of 25, singer Frank Ocean has made waves in the entertainment industry and beyond by sharing his previous, same-sex romantic relationship through his personal blog. A rare occurrence in the Black music industry, the intimate account proved to expand his audience, resulting in breakout appearances on Saturday Night Live, the MTV Video Music Awards and several 2013 Grammy nominations for his debut album, Channel Orange. An interview on Oprah’s Next Chapter might offer more insight into the eccentric, brilliant mind of this new talent.
4. Ava DuVernay
The amount of Black stories portrayed in Hollywood pales in comparison to America’s extensive film history. And that number becomes all the more grim when narrowed down to stories told by Black female directors. So Ava DuVernay’s winning the Best Director Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for Middle of Nowhere caused many to breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate a first in Black (women’s) history. Intending to open the door for fellow Black filmmakers, DuVernay also formed the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AAFRM) to organize Black film festivals and bring more of our independent films to theaters. Surely an interview with DuVernay would draw in not only film buffs and aspiring Black Hollywood professionals, but also entrepreneurs and those interested in transforming their respective industries.
5. Lauryn Hill
While this former Fugees member has already turned down an invitation to interview with Oprah on Next Chapter, according to the media maven herself, who’s to say she won’t change her mind? Controversy, love triangles, brilliant artistry and iconic status all make for great television, and Lauryn Hill certainly has her fair share of all of the above. If Oprah were to somehow snag a sit-down with this superstar singer, viewership would probably skyrocket to break previous OWN ratings records.