Rainn Wilson, who portrays quirky salesman Dwight Schrute on the NBC comedy “The Office,” is launching a new television special with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday.
Called “Oprah and Rainn Wilson Present SoulPancake,” the program is based on a series of short videos produced by a new media company Wilson started in 2008 with friends Joshua Homnick and Devon Gundry with the aim of addressing spiritual/philosophical matters in a new, fresh and artistic way.
SoulPancake started out as a Web site then an interactive book before videos were created that contemplate life’s big questions; presently the shorts are featured on OWN’s Emmy award-winning “Super Soul Sunday” airing Sundays at 11 a.m. ET/PT.
The program Sunday at noon, organized in a one-hour talk-variety format, builds on that concept and features man-on-the-street montages and experts exploring the topic of love along with art activities and stop motion animation; actress Susan Sarandon, love coach and author Paul Carrick Brunson, heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato and Los Angeles teacher Millicent “Mama” Hill are among the guests.
“SoulPancake” premieres Sunday at noon ET/PT following a best-of episode of the “Super Soul Sunday,” a weekly show featuring Winfrey’s interviews with authors, spiritual leaders and top thinkers.
Wilson, a Baha’i, recalls a 2009 Web interview with Winfrey during which he discussed his childhood faith and what compelled him to leave it and return.
In an interview with The Washington Post Thursday, he said he was grateful for the opportunity to explore what he believed.
“As a lot of people do, in my 20s and 30s, I was trying to find my way, and was dissatisfied with life,” he said.
He said he embarked on a spiritual journey, reading about different faith traditions and religious leaders, doing a lot soul searching and traveling to “find the source of my dis-ease.”
The journey eventually led Wilson to the faith of his childhood with a “renewed, deeper connection.”
“And I’ve really enjoyed that journey and realized that my artistic journey as an actor and a writer is woven into that,” Wilson said, adding that SoulPancake is about how we’re “all on some sort of spiritual journey of sorts, but don’t really know it.”
The SoulPancake special Sunday will focus on love. When asked why he thought it’s hard for people to show their hearts, Wilson said: “We live in a culture that doesn’t support much vulnerability, real heart connection. So I think we all have known ways we have opened up our hearts, say when we were children, and probably had been made fun of.”
His aim is to help promote a “more heart-based, more heart-connected society regardless of our faith, race, gender or class.
“That’s the goal that we’re on and we want to make television that supports that journey.”
Of the Sunday programming on OWN, Wilson said it’s fantastic and calls Winfrey an American hero who is “making spirituality accessible.”
He said she has a penchant for making people’s personal journeys “relatable” and “cool.”
“She’s brought so many incredible thinkers, philosophers and spiritual thought leaders to the forefront like Deepak Chopra and Eckart Tolle,” Wilson said, adding that amid the football, infomercials and other programs, Winfrey has made “a safe place for several hours on Sundays where you can dig into spiritual topics” that “can ground your week and uplift your spirit.”
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