Harpo Executive Producer Ellen Rakieten
Ellen says that although they were not sure how the show was going to be received by its viewers, Oprah's Big Give has already exceeded expectations. "We've already heard from thousands of people who wanted to 'give big,' and that's the point—the fact that America has embraced [the show] is just icing on the cake."
As to the reasoning behind why they decided to make it a competition, Ellen says it's all part of the big picture. "We wanted to make it a competition because it is inspiring and it's fun and you get to root for the person that you want, and we certainly don't do it in any mean-spirited way—nobody feels bad when they leave."
When it comes to the 10 contestants, Ellen says there is a great mix of people, who all stand out in their own way. "I think in life there are natural leaders," she says. "I think when you look at these people, they are just a cross section of regular people, that's just how life is. People emerge as leaders, they emerge as doers, and that's the whole point."
Ellen also discusses how lucky she feels to have Nate, who has been her close personal friend for many years, in her life. "There is absolutely no better friend [than Nate]" she says. "The fact of life is when you have a friendship like this, people feel threatened by it because most people don't have that same kind of true friendship."