Oprah’s Crucial Role Behind Shania Twain’s Gutsy Series Pays Off

Though not first music celebrity to star in a reality TV series, Shania Twain might be the first to use the medium for therapy. In the docu-series “Why Not?“, which debuted May 8 on OWN, the comely country-pop superstar documents her struggle to reclaim her life after the emotional devastation of learning her husband of 14 years, music producer Mutt Lange, had cheated on her with her best friend. The double-betrayal not only ended her marriage but unlocked an lifetime of fears that paralyzed Twain, rendering her unable to sing in front of other people and destroying her “sense of self.”

“I was very good at pretending everything was ok,” says Twain, who, by 21, had survived a childhood of poverty and the loss of both her parents’ in a devastating accident. She went on to become the best-selling female artist in country music history. But that lifestyle took a toll, too. “I was miserable,” she says on the show. “I couldn’t even sing in the shower. I reached the point where I had to do something.” In “Why Not?” Twain opens the door on the intimate, two-year process of healing, regaining her sense of self, reclaiming her voice, and getting back onstage.

The first episode drew the largest ratings of any series debut on the new OWN network. The series is beautifully produced, engrossing, and draws you into the superstar’s private world through personal revelations that play like a classic country song. The second episode, titled “Battling Betrayal” and previewed below, airs Sunday, May 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. We caught up with Twain, 45 and now remarried to her ex best friend’s husband, as she fielded questions on on a press day in L.A. and learned of the crucial role Oprah Winfrey played behind the scenes.

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Congratulations on the first episode’s success. Did you watch it? No. I was traveling that day.

I assume you’d already seen it. Well, I ‘m involved in every aspect of the show, including the editing. So I’ve seen everything. But I don’t watch myself in those shows after we’ve finished them – and when they air. Maybe I’ll watch the last one. Maybe I’ll be able to breathe a little easier at that point.

It’s nerve-wracking? Very.

You could’ve taken this show to any network. Why did you choose the Oprah Winfrey Network – or OWN? It was a network with a new beginning, and my show is about a new beginning. Oprah, I think, shares a lot of parallels in my life. I believed she’d genuinely understand the purpose behind the concept and how much it meant to me personally, and she did. I think she related. That was important to me. When she told me I could trust her, I felt like I could.

So was she involved from the start? From the very, very beginning. We sent messages back and forth. She saw the episodes. It’s been a very compatible and comfortable, even comforting, relationship from the beginning.

Watch the debut episode of “Why Not?”
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Why did you do this show? It’s incredibly personal, intimate and also courageous and daring. That’s the whole point. The point is to exercise courage and force myself out of my comfort zone – out of my fear zone. It’s not something I’d normally do or feel comfortable with. But something had to give. I’d come to a crucial point in my life and I had to decide what I was going to do about it. Either I was never going to sing again or I was going to do something to free myself from a lot of restriction and fear and hurt. Unless I took some fears on, as many as I could, I was going to always be under the thumb of fear and, well, that’s just a very detrimental way to live. Maybe seeing what I went through will inspire other people.

How long were you dealing with the fear? From the beginning of my life and then it accumulated. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the divorce. But that was only a trigger – the moment where I realized how much it had built up. I’d always been too afraid to address the problem. It’s like you know there’s something wrong with you, but you don’t want to go to the doctor because of what you’re going to find out. You don’t want to hear the results. afraid of the results. That’s where I was, that’s the point where I was.

Where did the show deliver you? Actually, it made me realize I didn’t have to worry about where it was going to deliver me. That was also the point. Just go through it, force yourself to to think again and not think about the end result, not think about how it might hurt you or even benefit you. Forget about the result. Just dive in. And you’ll find out where you’re supposed to be when you get there.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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