We all know Ms. Lisa Ling is one inspiring individual, breaking barriers and walls down left and right and paving the way for women and Asian Americans in television. When interviewing her, it was no surprise that we would get to the deep stuff. Just how deep? Take a look at the video below.
Catch Lisa Ling conversing with faith healers TONIGHT on her new show, Our America, on OWN 10/9c.
It’s been awhile since Lisa Ling has worked in an office. Though the seasoned 37-year-old journalist, who got her first television hosting gig at age 16, is one of the hardest-working women on TV, her work environment range from the set of The View from 1999-2002 to investigating gang rapes in the middle of Africa as the host of National Geographic Ultimate Explorer to even the comforts of her own home, writing the book, Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home with her sister Laura Ling. It’s safe to say it’s been awhile since Ling has had a chat by the water cooler or peeked over a cubicle.
Yet, this is the very setting where we meet, in the newly occupied citrus-hued OWN (short for Oprah Winfrey Network) offices on the Miracle Mile of Los Angeles, California, where Ling is also having a photo shoot. Ling doesn’t have an office at this space but with a new show on the OWN channel, she does call Oprah boss. And she does miss working in an office. At the start of our interview, the energetic Ling muses, “I was saying to [my publicist], there’s so many cute guys here!” Ling’s new show, Our America, delves into our very own backyard and stems from Ling’s own Chinese American upbringing and not feeling like she fit into any culture.
“This series is kind of a window into who we are as Americans and what it means to be an American. We explore the ugly parts as well as the challenging parts. It really is, I hope, an all encompassing experience.”
What makes Ling’s series unique is the positive, hopeful edge ever-present throughout the series. “My hope is they will look at things differently than they may have looked at them before and they might have a little more compassion than they had before. It’s so easy to think about any topic or issue in a really black and white way and what we’re trying to do is go beneath the surface and try to provide a different perspective. No matter the topic that we’ve been covering, we feature people who ultimately came from a mother who love him or her. That’s something I keep in the back of my mind.” Ling understands the opportunity that Oprah and the OWN channel have given her in telling these stories. “It’s hard,” Ling says, “TV’s all about the lowest common denominator — what’s the most sensational. It’s so unusual to work for a woman or an organization that seeks out intention in work. Usually it’s like, okay, how’s it going to rate and while that is important, equally as important is what the intention is. I’m really grateful.”
Some issues the show will attempt to shed light to include mail-order brides, sex-offender colonies and faith healers. Faith is something Ling has also personally been exploring. I have seen a lot of things in my life and career that have made me question God and the idea of faith,” Ling explains. “Kids trafficked to other parts of the world and forced into sex slavery, women being gang raped in the middle of Africa and no one paying attention to it. A lot of these things I’ve seen and experienced made me think, if there’s a God, how could he/she allow these things to happen?” But through her exploration and with the help of her husband, Ling’s view on God and faith has been shifting. “There’s a Catholic nun here in LA, she’s kind of a guru of mine — big sister Margaret — she’s become a mother to these transgendered prostitutes and people have been kicked out of their homes. People who nobody accepts, this catholic nun accepts. To me, that’s when I see God in people like that. She never talks about God, she just acts in a God-like way — whooo we’re getting deep here!” Ling gasps. The whole room cracks up. “But you can probably see I’m fascinated by this topic. I can’t stop thinking about it. Am I completely there yet? I can’t say definitively. Faith has always been a real exploration for me but it’s one that I’m enjoying and learning a lot from.”
On the subject on beliefs, Ling is grateful for one person that has faith in her. “I have worked with Oprah more than five years now,” Ling gushes about her boss. “She’s just awesome. The only reason I have this series on this network is because she believes in me. Just the way she led her life with such integrity. It’s really rare to find people like that in this business and that’s a reason why she’s as successful as she is, because she never deviated from that.”