Give Big or Go Home
Over the course of eight weeks, viewers will watch as men and women try to out-give each other. "What I'm hoping is that you, America, will fall in love with the heart of this show," Oprah says.
Before production began, Oprah teamed up with the Emmy award-winning producers of The Amazing Race. Then, she went in search of the biggest givers in America. At casting calls in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City and Nashville, thousands of people lined up to audition for a spot, but only 10 competitors made the cut.
What none of the competitors knew when they signed on to be a part of this series was that at the end, the winner would go home with $1 million!
Nate says he wanted to be a part of this show because the premise touched him on a personal level. In December 2004, Nate survived the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people, including his partner, Fernando Bengoechea.
After the disaster struck, Nate was left stranded in Sri Lanka with no wallet, phone or dry clothes. He relied on the kindness of strangers to help him get through those dark days. "I know, since I've been in this position in my life, what it means to actually need help and get it from a stranger," he says. "[A man gave me] a clean shirt and flip-flops when I needed them most. That moment will stay with me forever."
Find out more about Nate!
While filming Oprah's Big Give, Nate says he was amazed by the contestants' charitable acts. "I think it gave me a greater sense of humanity," he says. "I was dying to find out what the contestants were able to achieve with every challenge."
The first seat was filled by Malaak Compton-Rock, a mother of two and wife of comedian Chris Rock. Over the years, Malaak has proven she's more than just a pretty face on the red carpet. "I know her because she has been in the business of giving for a very long time," Oprah says.
In 1999, Malaak founded Styleworks, a program that helps women transition from welfare to the work force by giving them free, professional makeovers. She's also been actively involved in humanitarian projects abroad.
Find out more about Malaak!
As a judge on Oprah's Big Give, Malaak says she evaluates the contestants' good deeds based on three criteria. "I wanted to know, 'Who's the person you're helping? What do they really need? Did you pay attention and actually find out what they needed, or did you give them what you thought they needed?'" she says.
Malaak says she's proud to be a part of a series that shows people you don't have to be rich to give. "I believe in giving, if you can, a percentage of your income," she says. "Also, you can volunteer. If you volunteer once a month, you are changing someone's life, and you're changing your own life."
For years, Tony has supported the Shadow Buddies Foundation, a nonprofit that provides huggable dolls for severely ill children. He's also a Boys & Girls Club volunteer who's devoted to helping underprivileged youth.
Find out more about Tony!
Oprah says she chose Tony to be a judge on her first primetime series because he's proven that he's a big giver with a big heart. "And the fact that he's really very cute did not hurt at all," she says.
Tony may look tough, but he says some Big Give challenges brought a tear to his eye. "The gamut of emotions that you go through by being a part of a show like this is just amazing," he says. "I think what America's going to see is that [giving is] a two-way street. When you give, you'll be receiving also."
Find out more about Jamie!
In 2002, Jamie opened Fifteen London, a training restaurant for disadvantaged young people. His efforts got Oprah's attention. "I met Jamie Oliver at his restaurant years and years ago and was told then about how he goes out into the inner cities," Oprah says. "He brings all these kids in, and he trains them. That's what his business is about."
Jamie's not just stirring things up in the kitchen—he's stirring up the status quo. The father of two set out to improve the poor quality of school lunches in England and personally taught cafeteria workers how to prepare healthier dishes. His efforts paid off—the British government put more than $1 billion toward the cause.
When Oprah's Big Give came across Jamie's plate, he jumped at the chance because he says television focuses on the negative too often. "It was an opportunity to do something where you can celebrate people doing good stuff for people," he says. "And apart from it ... who's going to say no to Oprah?"
Although he says judging people doing good deeds wasn't easy, Jamie says Oprah's Big Give is an emotional ride he's happy to be on. "It's exciting, it's emotional, you cry, you laugh," he says. "They're real people that represent your country, and for me, as a foreigner, I was proud to be in it. The heroes are the 10 givers, and I was just happy to watch, really."
Take that finger off speed dial—Jamie has whipped up a fast, fun and healthy pizza recipe. Let everyone pick their own toppings, but don't add too many! "Try not to overload the pizza," Jamie says. "Stick to two or three things." Think outside the pizza box and add fresh, raw ingredients like arugula and lemon juice to your creation after it's been baked.
Not sure if you want salad on top of your pizza? Try Jamie's recipe for a fresh and funky green salad—its dressing will deliver every time! "Salads don't have to be boring," he says.
For the adult portion of the evening, knock your guests out with Jamie's Give-a-Tini—also known as "The Berkus"—a concoction swirling with mint leaves, vodka, ginger ale, ginger root and passion fruit.
Are you a Big Giver? Tell us what you would do if you were challenged to change someone's life.