Oprah Winfrey made no attempt to disguise her recent struggles with her TV network when she went to speak to the graduating class at Harvard. In fact, it seems like OWN could be facing even more troubles after an online petition begged Winfrey to dump Tyler Perry and get his shows off her network.
Most stars might turn down the opportunity to speak to one of America’s most prestigious graduating classes if they knew their business endeavors were currently struggling to even stay afloat. Oprah, on the other hand, felt it was important that she talked to the class about the challenges she has faced and reminded them that it is important to always learn from their failures.
Oprah began her speech by telling the class that the call to come speak at their graduation came “in the very moment when I had stopped succeeding.”
She went on to explain that she had to take time to really think about the future of OWN and came to the conclusion that by the time graduation rolled around, her story would be a changed one.
While OWN still isn’t doing quite as well as Oprah would have hoped she claimed that the network has finally found its “footing” and conquering minor setbacks.
Her reflection on saving her network became the premise of her speech as she then used her story to encourage the graduates to not fear failure or even believe in it.
“I want you to remember this: There is no such thing as failure,” Winfrey said. “Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”
She went on to tell the graduates that in order to be successful it is so important that they find their true passion or story.
“When you inevitably struggle and find yourself stuck in a hole, that is the story that will get you out,” she continued.
Perhaps the most compelling part of her speech was when she encouraged the graduates to break down barriers and build bridges across what usually leaves people divided.
She explained that everyone she has interviewed from President Bush and President Obama to Beyonce ask her if their interview was “O.K” when it’s over.
Oprah used this fact to explain that we aren’t so different from each other after all and that everyone wants to know that they are being understood.
“Even though this is the college where Facebook was born, my hope is that you will have the courage to go out and have conversations with people you disagree with,” she told the graduating class.
She also explained that her purpose, or story, was to use television as a way to remind everyone that what “unites us is ultimately far more redeeming and compelling than anything that separates” us. Well it seems like this type of mission for the network is exactly what has a new petition begging for Oprah to get Tyler Perry’s new programs off OWN.
The new petition on Change.org claims that Perry is using his programming to “perpetuate stereotypes” about the black community and all that does is increase the racial divide between audiences and promote the status quo.
“For decades Oprah Winfrey has used her television show to educate, empower and uplift people of all races to be better versions of themselves,” the petition reads. “OWN has committed to be an extension of this work.”
The petition didn’t stop there either. It slams Tyler Perry and Oprah for not acknowledging the feedback they received from the Black community and scholars who are experts on racism that claim Tyler Perry’s work damages the image of African Americans.
“His entertainment is hurtful to the Black community,” the petition adds. “He perpetuates stereotypes and haw no place on OWN.”
The good news for Oprah is, it seems like there aren’t many people on board with the petition. With a little more than 30 signatures, the petition more than likely won’t impact Oprah’s new programming.
Meanwhile, one of Tyler’s new shows “The Haves and the Have Nots” has already become OWN’s highest rated premiere after pulling in 1.77 million viewers.