As the reigning queen of media, Oprah Winfrey has long been the gold standard of inspirational, feel good tv. If the weaker, impulsive, less ambitious side of you needs a serious overhaul, what better person to help lift you out of that inescapable rut? The debut of Oprah's Network, OWN , last week included a slew of crowd-pleasing programs aimed to get you to live your "own best life." The impressive lineup includes the likes of Dr. Phil getting you to spill your guts, Suze Orman cleaning up your credit history and Dr. Oz creating more regular bowel movements. Future shows include the trials and tribulations of Winona Judd and Sarah Ferguson, which go beyond the size of their waistline. These are some of Oprah's stars, individuals who set trends of self improvement with the Oprah stamp of approval (which we all know carries its weight in gold). But what about how to become more like the master herself? How can we learn to be more like Oprah? The answer to that lies in one hour of unconventional yet enticing storytelling, Master Class.
Master Class is a provocative look inside the lives of pop culture icons and household names. The lives of celebrities may seem like an open page but this show makes an attempt to dig deeper with what we like to refer to as Oprah's Chosen Few. The sort of people who have earned their notoriety not through reality shows or becoming tabloid fodder but through things Oprah wants us all to emulate; determination, drive, hard work. Life is a class according to Oprah, we are all learning a lesson from our life's experiences and yes, even failing has its upside. To be like Oprah you are allowed to fail but the consequences of that failure better mean something down the road.
For Jay-Z it was about starting his own record company at 26 after spending his teen years dealing drugs in the projects where he grew up. Like Oprah, Jay-Z grew up fatherless. He was determined to be a millionaire by the time he was 30. He admits to always feeling like an outsider when it came to the music industry. These intimate confessionals are not the Jay-Z we are used to seeing on the cover of Rolling Stone, a bona fide star with a shiny Beyonce by his side.
Simon Cowell talks about the importance of listening. Diane Sawyer remembers signing off her early newscasts with poetry. Sidney Poitier remembers being born in Florida at a time when black people were not allowed in hospitals. Condoleeza Rice thought she would grow up to be a concert pianist and Lorne Michaels looks back at the humble beginnings of SNL. These people had intention, clarity and purpose according to Oprah. This is how you become like the #1 woman on Forbes list.
Candid interviews from people who have reached career and personal success are only interrupted by Oprah herself, waxing poetic about how these people did it the right way. Jay-Z sitting for hours at his mother's kitchen table writing rap, the instinct that Simon Cowell has always relied on and Diane Sawyer's early days as a press aide to President Nixon are a few highlights. These are just a handful of prolific names that will lend their life for open study. If Oprah were to have a perfect semester of great teachers, people whose knowledge and wisdom were worth a listen, this is who she would choose. It's the sort of people Oprah has spent hours chatting with and has placed upon them the highest honor; you are a lot like me.
Laura Carlson is a freelance writer who has been a Bostonian, and Angeleno and a Washingtonian. She has covered red carpets, political events and everything in between. Not only does she work in tv, she also loves to write about it. Follow her on Twitter @lauraleecarlson