LeGrande Green is a man that exemplifies bold! His harrowing journey along the path to success has been full of career highs and lows. As a creative savant and producer behind the scenes of The Oprah Winfrey Show, 4-time Emmy Award winner LeGrande Green was on top of the TV world, but lurking behind the veiled curtain of success was a life in dire straits.
Before Green stepped into the limelight with Oprah Winfrey, he was already making his mark at KING-TV in Seattle, working as an associate producer on a morning talk show. After a chance meeting with Oprah Winfrey in 1989, his professional life was propelled into the stratosphere; at 24 he became the youngest producer on her team, quickly outpacing his peers to become a supervising senior producer.
Eight years later he hit a wall. Green was emotionally exhausted and out of steam as the creative genius behind some of the highest rated moments on The Oprah Winfrey Show. His life had begun to spiral into a downward cycle. Unbeknownst to him at the time, Green was battling with bipolar disorder, characterized by drug abuse, suicidal thoughts and bouts of depression.
Through it all, Green valiantly pushed forward to emerge on the other side. Today he is working harder than ever as the driving force behind BOLD, a daily podcast featuring inspiring interviews with provocative people.
RAINE: Can you tell us how your experience at KING-TV changed your life?
GREEN: My first job right out of college was working as a production intern at King Broadcasting in Seattle. I was thrust into a thrilling world of news as I shadowed the stage managers and floor directors in the studio. Eventually, I was allowed to cue the anchors during live newscasts. From there, I met Karen Melamed (to this day, one of my best friends on the planet.) She was the boss of the morning talk show Seattle Today. She had just moved from Baltimore where she worked with Oprah Winfrey on a local show called People Are Talking.
RAINE: When you worked at Oprah, you were one of her youngest producers. How did that experience shape your career?
GREEN: At age 24,1 was hired to work at The Oprah Winfrey Show. Karen Melamed was a close personal friend of Oprah’s executive producer Debra DiMaio. She, Oprah and Debbie all worked in Baltimore together. Having worked in local television gave me a leg up on many of my colleagues. In Seattle, I worked in the newsroom, on documentary units and cut my teeth on all kinds of talk shows before I came to Chicago.
RAINE: Your career has had many highs and lows. What were some of the happier moments?
GREEN: Obviously some of the high points have been the awards. I’ve won four Daytime Emmys for my work at Oprah and an NAACP Image Award for Best News/Talk Documentary. The NAACP Image Award came for an Oprah episode called “Unsolved Hate Crimes of The Civil Rights Movement” in 1994. It all began when I researched the story of a scared little white boy who witnessed a racial massacre before World War II. We took our cameras into the most racist counties in Georgia to re-enact the story. All of the interviews were raw, emotional and powerful. When the whole thing was said and done, I remember looking at Oprah with a tear in my eye. I knew then that I was privileged and blessed to be able to harness my creativity on such a powerful national platform.
RAINE: As an entrepreneur you often advise others to “own their own story”. Can you explain that concept in more detail?
GREEN: For many years, I taught classes and seminars around the US and Canada under the banner “Get Booked on Any TV Talk Show.” The question that kept coming up: ‘How do I get on Oprah?’ Now that the show’s over, it’s obviously not about being on Oprah anymore. The goal is to “be your own Oprah!” With all the tools available on the internet and social media, no one has to sit back and wait for a third party to share their messages. There are three basic principles I share with my clients.
Lesson No. 1: Know what your hook is.
Lesson No. 2: Package yourself Lesson No. 3: Don’t give up.
RAINE: Tell us about your new show BOLD and what excites you most about it.
GREEN: After working closely with Oprah for years, here’s one thing I never forgot: inspiration is everywhere. Wellness is healthy living. It’s the strategy you choose to lead a balanced life. My interests run from lifestyle trends to pop culture to last night’s “lip-sync for your life” on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I was looking for a podcast that spoke to the heart but was also edgy and entertaining.
When I couldn’t find it on iTunes, I said, “Heck, I’m a producer. I’ll create it myself!” My guests are provocative people with inspiring ideas. It’s that blogger, that YouTube video, that celebrity or entertainer everybody’s talking about. It’s everyday people making huge breakthroughs. It might even be you tomorrow. If you break down the word BOLD, it might mean “bring on love divine.” Or my favorite, “blessings of life daily.” There is only now. I profile people and topics that influence the way we live, laugh and love out loud. That’s more than a catchy slogan. It’s really my sole-and my soul-intention. There’s no reason enlightenment can’t be entertaining.
RAINE: How has life changed for you now that you are no longer behind the scenes but at the center of your own show?
GREEN: The podcast took off like a rocket, which surprised and delighted me. In our first month on the Live 365 radio platform, we pulled in 5.5 million listeners. The greatest gift has been finding and booking the most incredible guests.
The other day I was talking to Grammy-winning superstar Jody Watley about confidence and inspiration. She said, “I don’t do many interviews but I wanted to come on BOLD. It’s a place where people can come to be classy, share stories and have great conversations.”
I’m humbled by the thousands who love the positivity of the podcast and they are demanding ‘more, more, more!” We are now developing products and books to support our message of transformation and healing. I close each show the same way and that message has become a mantra: “Shift happens right where you are. Be the change and get BOLD today.”