Lisa Ling has her OWN show, Our America
Our America with Lisa Ling, one of Oprah’s favorites
Our America with Lisa Ling is the outstanding documentary series on Oprah Winfrey’s new cable network OWN. And Lisa talked about launching her second season, airing on Sundays nights this fall.
In her wildest dreams Lisa Ling never thought that she would be the face of a show titled “Our America.” She says, “I get emotional when I talk about this, I grew up in a community outside of Sacramento, California, called Carmichael. There were five Asian kids in my school and two were in the same family, mine. So it was not the most diverse community.”
She reveals when she was a little girl she always had a conflict of identity. “I never felt comfortable or totally American, because I had black hair and slanty eyes. And I couldn’t connect with people from China, because I didn’t live there. So I always felt different.”
Back then she didn’t fully feel accepted as an all-American girl. But now, she says, “With the same face I had as a little girl, to be the face of a show called Our America, I never would have imagined it. It’s incredible. And I see it now as a responsibility. I take it seriously, being the face of Our America.”
A respected journalist, Lisa is doing her best work for Our America. Her show enhances the OWN schedule because Lisa explores various subjects that are often hidden in communities. “Amateur Porn,” “Modern Polygamy,” “Sex Trafficking,” “Invisible Wounds of War,” “Extreme Parenting,” “The Prison Cycle,” and “Twins and Identity” are the titles of her upcoming shows. The titles don’t do justice to her thought-provoking subjects.
Lisa passionately explains, “In this media landscape it is the greatest honor in my life and my career to be allowed to tell these kinds of substantive stories. There is a lot of responsibility attached to that, because the people we profile in our shows really do trust us. And we see that everyone is treated with respect and dignity. We did not exploit them or sensationalize their stories.”
The lovely and sweet 38-year-old former co-host of The View believes there is a desire to know what’s going on in the world and our own backyard. “We want to know about the lives of the people who may live next door, or in another place just like ours. So we take you into these worlds that you may never have thought about before, and to let you know what the experience is like interacting with these real people.”
She thinks that OWN really took a risk doing this show that’s an anthropological look as different subcultures in America. That doesn’t sound like a big ratings getter. But the show has done really well with people responding to it.
It is not “train wreck TV,” she insists. “I would not be doing my job if we were producing a show where people were aghast and watching it like a train wreck. To me that’s exploitation, and there are enough people out there doing that. I’m just asking people to come along on this journey and see these people and experiences.”
When she’s out there shooting an episode, Lisa reports, “I always put myself into their shoes. Everybody has a story, and everybody wants to be heard. That’s the common thread. If you stop and listen to people, you might be surprised. What Our America does is take the time to take you on the journey.”
Some subjects are challenging and dark, and it becomes the rollercoaster ride that is life. But hope is one of those common threads that everyone has, and Lisa brings that out in her subjects. “I don’t set out to define the experience. You experience challenges with people but you also experience their hopes.”
It was noted that Oprah Winfrey is proud of the show, and Lisa Ling can be proud of being the face of “Our America.”