Oprah Winfrey and Lynn Whitfield in a scene from “Greenleaf.”
By Tambay A. Obenson
Shadow and Act
OWN’s new original series “Greenleaf,” featuring Oprah Winfrey’s first recurring scripted television role in two decades, launches on June 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
The megachurch drama from Emmy nominated writer/producer Craig Wright (“Lost,” “Six Feet Under”) and Lionsgate Television, will regularly air on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT for the remainder of its 13-episode first season.
“Greenleaf” centers on the journey of estranged daughter and disillusioned preacher Grace Greenleaf (played by Merle Dandridge) who has returned home after 20 years on the occasion of the mysterious death of her sister, Faith. As she reenters the world of Calvary Fellowship World Ministries, the Memphis megachurch run by her powerful parents, Bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David) and Lady Mae Greenleaf (Lynn Whitfield), it becomes evident that things are not as virtuous as they seem and that the family’s outward display of faith hides sin and misdeeds.
In the season premiere, directed by Clement Virgo (“Book of Negroes”), Grace and her teenage daughter Sophia (Desiree Ross) are warmly welcomed home by Grace’s father, but tensions rise soon thereafter at a family dinner in the Greenleaf mansion. Grace’s mother is cold and hostile, her sister-in-law Kerissa (Kim Hawthorne) questions her about her faith, and sister Charity (Deborah Joy Winans) erupts with jealousy at the suggestion that Grace might preach at Calvary.
Later, blues club owner and Grace’s aunt Mavis (Oprah Winfrey) discuss the circumstances of Faith’s death and Mavis reveals some shocking information about Grace’s uncle “Mac” (Gregory Alan Williams). Mavis is still estranged from the Greenleaf family and it starts to become evident that she intends to use Grace to sow the seeds of its destruction.
Also in the cast are Lamman Rucker as Jacob Greenleaf and Tye White as Kevin Satterlee.
“Greenleaf” is produced for OWN by Lionsgate Television. Executive producers are Oprah Winfrey, Craig Wright and Clement Virgo.