When Oprah Winfrey needed to find judges for her reality show, Oprah's Big Give, she called on Malaak Compton-Rock, a philanthropist and the wife of comedian and actor Chris Rock. Gayle talks with Malaak about getting the call to participate and why she says Oprah's Big Give is in a class of its own when it comes to quality TV.
Malaak says she's made charitable giving her life's work—she founded StyleWorks, a program that helps women transition from welfare to the workforce, and she's been involved in numerous other nonprofit organizations and worldwide humanitarian efforts. She says doing television was completely new for her and that she was shocked to get a call from Oprah to participate in the show. "It's not every day that you're sitting at home trying to put the kids to bed and someone calls you to be a part of an Oprah Winfrey-produced television show!" she says.
In Oprah's Big Give, contestants are challenged to change the lives of complete strangers in creative ways. As the participants try to "out-give" one another, Malaak and co-judges Jamie Oliver and Tony Gonzalez must decide who's making the biggest difference. While Malaak says she can't name a favorite contestant, some stood out more than others. "I had contestants who I knew really had a heart to give [that was] really pure and it was easy to seek them out," she says.
Malaak says while other reality shows can come across as "mindless," Oprah's Big Give is something totally different. "It's a philanthropic show," she says. "These contestants compete to out-give each other, and nothing on television has ever been produced like it." What's more, Malaak says viewers will be inspired by its message. "My hope is that the average American will look at this show and realize how they can effect change in their own communities," she says.
Published on January 01, 2008