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July 27, 2016

Getting Dramatic

Paula Hendrickson
  • Greenleaf

    Courtesy of OWN Oprah Winfrey Network

The strong performance of Tyler Perry's drama The Haves and the Have Nots has helped OWN build a loyal primetime audience.

Perry's other OWN shows — the drama If Loving You Is Wrong and comedies Love Thy Neighbor and For Better or Worse — are doing well, too. Buoyed by that success, the network is expanding its slate of scripted originals with two new dramas, Greenleaf and Queen Sugar. But instead of coming from Perry, these series are executive-produced by Oprah Winfrey, who also costars in Greenleaf.


The family drama, centered on a Memphis mega-church, made its two-night premiere June 21 and 22. It stars Lynn Whitfield and Keith David as Lady Mae and her husband, Bishop James Greenleaf; Merle Dandridge plays their daughter Grace, and Winfrey plays Mavis, Lady Mae's wayward sister and a nightclub owner.

Craig Wright (Tyrant, Lost, Six Feet Under) is creator-executive producer and fellow executive producer Clement Virgo (The Book of Negroes) directed the pilot. The first season will have 13 episodes, and a second is already on order. Greenleaf is produced by Lionsgate Television and is shot on location in Atlanta.

Queen Sugar

Based on Natalie Baszile's book of the same name, this family drama follows the Bordelon siblings — played by Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Rutina Wesley and Kofi Siriboe — as they try to work through their conflicts to save the family's Louisiana sugarcane farm.

Filmmaker Ava DuVemay (Selma) co-created and executive-produces the series with Winfrey. A 13-episode season is on order, with a debut expected in the fall. Queen Sugar is shot on location in and around New Orleans.

For more on the Oprah Winfrey Network shows, click here.

This article originally appeared in emmy Magazine, Issue No. 6, 2016

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