Lynn Whitfield dishes on Oprah and the final season of ‘Greenleaf’

Lynn Whitfield’s relationship with media mogul Oprah Winfrey began over 30 years ago with their co-starring role in 1989’s “The Women of Brewster Place.” The actress was then featured alongside Halle Berry in the Winfrey-produced 1998 mini-series, “The Wedding”  before reuniting with Winfrey a third time for the OWN drama  “Greenleaf,” now in its fifth and final season.

“It’s really cool to know that Oprah has that faith in me, in what I can do,” Whitfield told Page Six. “I can’t assume anything, but I think she knows if I’m given the opportunity — which, she’s been so generous to give me three of them — that I will do my level best to make the most of it and to honor the women she’s brought me in to play.”

Whitfield plays matriarch Lady Mae Greenleaf, the wife of Bishop James Greenleaf (portrayed by Keith David), heads of megachurch Calvary Fellowship World Ministries. The character, daughter Grace’s (played by Merle Dandridge) adversary in earlier seasons, has experienced a spiritual rebirth of her own of late.

Lynn Whitfield (L)  and Oprah Winfrey.
Lynn Whitfield (L) and Oprah Winfrey.

“I admire a lot about her,” Whitfield says of Lady Mae. “I love that as she begins to face her own truths, she begins to humble herself before God, and that’s good. To be able to say, ‘My bad, God, let me check in with you.’ I admire that.”

Many assume “Greenleaf” is about behind-the-pulpit intel on the black church, but the Emmy-winner believes there’s more to it.

“It’s about seeing the people that are in church leadership. The biggest commentary isn’t about the black church, because we could look at the Catholic church as an institution and say, ‘Wow, there’s a lot that needs to be dealt with.’ Institutions and corporate environments always have a lot to deal with when there’s hierarchy.

“I hope what ‘Greenleaf’ has done is humanize the black church and made it more than just something where people think you’re just jumping and shouting. We brought humanity, skin and bones, feelings, mistakes, and heart.”

The show is slowly creeping towards its August finale, a bittersweet note for fans aware that a proper ending isn’t always something granted to black programs, even hits.

“I think it’s so unfair to people to who’ve been so supportive,” Whitfield says of such cancellations. “If somebody loves you through something, you need to love them back through it. We won’t leave our fans hanging.”