Found on the newly launched OWN channel created by Oprah Winfrey in January of 2011, Oprah Presents: Master Class is nothing short of masterful. Master Class is one of the programs that started with the new channel and essentially interviews various extremely successful people who are “masters” at what they do. Guest speakers like Diane Sawyer, Maya Angelou, Jay-Z, and Lorne Michaels discuss their early beginnings, and their rise to fame and success and the life lessons that they used to help them along the way.
In the episode that I watched, Simon Cowell of American Idol fame is the subject being interviewed. With small interludes of Oprah throughout, the program mostly consists of the the interviewee discussing their life and lessons. The episode opens with a wolf running through the forest, as Simon simultaneously relates the fears around the music and entertainment industry to the primal instincts of the wild wolf sensing fear. Simon learned early on that showing fear in this industry was not an option so he chose to exude an over the top confidence that would prevent others from sensing his fear. Cowell discusses his early working experiences and his start in the mail room of music company EMI. Cowell knew he wanted success but was not sure how, so he decided to learn as much as possible from the successful people around him and his mentors. At the age of 32 Cowell ran out of patience and decided to start his own label. Early success soon became early failure and Simon found himself bankrupt and starting from zero again. In this he learned to never let his ego get in the way and not to believe his own hype. This was one of the most important lessons that he took away. With the creation and success of Pop Idol in Great Britain, Cowell and his partners decided to take a shot at bringing it to the big leagues in America. Although they were turned away from every network, they were given a shot on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Network. In the spring of 2002 American Idol premiered its first episode to mixed reviews. Soon the show would rise to become number one and along with it Cowell’s worldwide fame and huge success. Known for his brutal honestly Cowell makes no apologies on his harsh tongue and bluntness when it comes to his career. He believes in people with strong opinions and thinks that was one of the keys to his success.
Simon reflects back on his career and says that the “getting there” was the best time of his life. He urges others to enjoy the ride and not get caught up with worrying about when the success will come.
The shows ends off with the key takeaways that the viewer can learn from Simon. These were: Enjoy the ride, be honest with yourself and others, trust your instincts, be patient, and have fun.
According to vcstar.com, the intended audience for this program is similar to that of The Oprah Winfrey show on ABC of women 25-54, but it seems as though Oprah is looking to “cast a wider net” and gain a larger more diverse audience then her roughly five million viewers. This program has a huge potential for both entertainment as well as education. This program gives intimate access to someone who is hugely successful and teaches life lessons that the viewer can take with them and apply to their own life. In the media we only see someone of Cowell’s caliber as he is now, in his case an opinionated, arrogant, and wealthy TV personality and music exec. We do not see how they got there and how their principles and work ethics awarded them to these great successes. The is entertaining for a similar reason. We as a public like watching celebrities and learning about their lives. We are a curious culture especially when it comes to someone who is rich and famous.
The reason I enjoy the program so much is that it gives someone who has reached great success a platform to tell their story to us, and give us something to relate to and learn for ourselves for our lives. Being a huge Oprah Winfrey fan, I would not have expected anything less than something enlightening. Its Oprah, need I say more?