(The Root) — Is it normal for married women to be disappointed in their wedding ring? Is it normal to allow your grown children over the age of 18 to sleep with their girlfriend or boyfriend in your home?
Some Americans may be reticent about revealing their private antics, but not the contestants on OWN's game show Are You Normal, America? The prime-time series poses bizarre questions to in-studio contestants, people on the street and a "jury" of real Americans to find out who's normal and who's not.
Who better than comedic queen Kim Coles to co-host the show? "To be part of Oprah's brand is a good place to be," Coles told The Root.
The seasoned actress is best known for her hilarious role as Synclaire James on the 1990s hit sitcom Living Single. After auditioning for her chance to make history with Oprah Winfrey on her network, Coles won the producers over and landed her spot on the show.
The 50-year-old caught up with The Root to talk about what it's like to work for Winfrey, whether she'd ever change her natural hair for a gig and OWN's critics.
The Root: What is it like working with and being around Oprah Winfrey?
Kim Coles: She was on the set a couple of times; you can absolutely feel her energy. You can feel her benevolence — it's clear — and you can absolutely feel her power. She told me that I was doing a good job and she was pleased with what was going on with the show. I can tell the show has turned out the way she has envisioned it to be.
TR: How did you end up working with Oprah and OWN?
KC: The show idea came about because it was a segment on one of Oprah's shows, and she liked it so much that she decided to have it developed into a full-blown game show. I got the part because I auditioned for it … I'd like to say that once they saw me, they were like, "Boom, we got our girl." I earned this one the good old-fashioned way.
TR: If this show or any future movies or shows required you to perm your hair, would you do it?
KC: This natural-hair journey is a very personal journey. I would not have permed my hair; I have not had a relaxer in my hair since 1990. There is also this notion that people who work in corporate America can't wear their hair natural.
I do think there are ways around it and a way to break the mold — it is your hair, you can do what you want to do with your hair. I applaud any company or business [that] is allowing people to be who they are.
TR: Did the producers say anything or make suggestions about your hair?
KC: Here's what's interesting: I found out that Oprah was sent several pictures of me. They went researching me and they got pictures, and I heard Oprah said, "What is she going to do with her hair? Whatever she wants to do is fine with me … " I'm paraphrasing, but it came back to me like that.
TR: What do you have to say to the critics who suggest that OWN is a struggling network?
KC: It's a new network; give it time to grow and watch Oprah shine. I don't understand how people compare things. There is room to grow; we are comparing it to networks that have been around for years. I think what she's doing with Super Soul Sunday is phenomenal; there's a segment called "Breathing Space."
She's creating something that has not been done before. it can't be compared to anything else. I don't think anyone should compare it. The statistics do not apply! I'll say this: Oprah Winfrey and her network are incomparable. Stop trying to put statistics on it.
I sat and watched her interviews with Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer, and you know something? There are no ratings to rate that. What she's putting out there to feed people's souls can't be counted on a Nielsen box.
TR: On your show, you try to figure out if contestants are normal. What are some of the things you do that aren't deemed normal?
KC: I'm actually a little weird in some areas. I'm afraid of revolving doors; I don't think that's normal … I also carry my own tea bags wherever I go, so all I need is a cup of hot water. Who takes their own tea bags to a restaurant? When I'm in the mood for tea, I want my tea! That's not normal.
Also, what I do for a living isn't normal. I'm not a normal actress. I have chosen to stay as a Renaissance woman, so to speak. I'm an actress, a comedian, a playwright, an author, a producer, a speaker — I'm not even a normal entertainer. But yet I'm a normal girl, and I have the same feelings that everyone else does. I'm normal in that I want to love and be loved. I'm normal in that I still shop at the 99-cent store and Target.
Are You Normal, America? airs Saturday nights at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST on OWN.
Lathleen Ade-Brown is a freelance writer located in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.