First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Harpo Studios
Producer Dana took the idea and ran, finding real military families to share their stories, and booking Tom, journalist Bob Woodward and first lady Michelle Obama to help tell those tales. "Michelle Obama really wants to take a turn and show a different side of military families," Dana says. "It's not about all the doom and gloom. She really wants to paint a different picture and help Americans see that these are men and women who have so much to give back to society."
The show also hits home with a member of Dana's team, senior associate producer Joanna. Her brother, an Army reservist, survived a military Humvee accident. "He ended up breaking his neck in two places and his back. And his dreams died that day," she says. "It's really hard on the family because you have to learn how to go with that new normal. And you want to embrace them as who they are and not remind them of who they once were because you can't go back to that."
Watch the conversation
Oprah says she's careful not to use her friendship with President and first lady Obama inappropriately. "I said before he was elected and certainly after he was elected, 'I don't want to in any way be seen as using my relationship, my friendship with the president for anything ever,'" Oprah says. "That is a rule that cannot be crossed."
As it turns out, first lady Obama asked to be a part of the show. "Our booking team's always in touch with the White House," Sheri says. "They had discussed that if you're ever doing anything with military families, we're on board."
Oprah is excited about the first lady's involvement—and the fact that the show will give viewers solid ideas on how to help. "I could weep over this," Oprah says. "It was very important to me that people would have a takeaway, that you would walk away from the show saying, 'I can do [this.]'"
Watch Oprah's mad-dash cleaning session
Then, Oprah gets word that the first lady has arrived. "I said to her, 'I'm so grateful that you can come and thank you so much,' and she said, 'I think we kind of bogarded our way in here,'" Oprah says. "Which says to me they did actually say, 'We really want to come.'"
Hang out with Oprah and Mrs. Obama
Watch Joanna share her brother's story with Tom and Bob
"I know about Joanna's brother, and I feel in my heart if you have a family member or are a person who is serving our country, that this show would mean a sense of validation to you," Oprah says. "Because I know that often whatever is going on in your life, you feel like you're going through that alone. And so I think a show like this is important for what we do as a country and who we are as a country."
The show is full of stand-up moments. Bob shares concrete ways that everyday people can help our veterans, and the first lady turns to a military wife and calls her a hero. "I thought that her saying to this military wife that you're my hero was one of the greatest moments I experienced. I thought that was so powerful because I just imagined what that moment will mean in that woman's life," Oprah says. "What was so great about it is that I know that is what Michelle Obama really believes. That wasn't just rhetoric."
At the end of the taping, Dana's team celebrates the show's success. "I was so honored today to be able to do a show that honored [my brother] and all the rest of the soldiers in America. And we have Oprah and the first lady asking people to pay attention," Joanna says. "I'm just proud."
Oprah is too. "I am happiest when this show gets to serve as a platform to get people to think differently. Not only about the issue but their relationship to the issue," Oprah says. "That show worked. That was the perfect show because it created the awareness, it made people think differently and also allowed them to take action based on those thoughts. You can't do better than that."
How you can help veterans
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