'All Rise' Finds a New Beginning on OWN

All Rise on OWN

For two seasons, the legal drama series, "All Rise," which is based around Los Angeles judges, prosecutors, and public defenders working for justice, aired on CBS before its cancellation last year. But earlier this month, the show found a new home on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) when season three premiered, much to the delight of the show's loyal fan base and its new audience on OWN. With a Black female lead starring as a judge and former deputy district attorney, the show already had a lot of promise to push gender boundaries and to challenge social injustice. Now on a cable network, the possibilities of where the show's storylines can go, and the opportunities for characters to lean more into reality, are even greater.

"I can tell you when OWN President Tina Perry first called and said that we actually had the opportunity to have 'All Rise' on OWN, I felt immediately that it was the right fit," said Oprah Winfrey in a message to the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this year. "Because at OWN we are intentional about the kinds of stories that we tell and how we tell them and who is doing the telling."

Executive Producer and Showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence told the TCA audience that OWN was giving the show the same platform that CBS did in exploring tough social issues, and allowing them to expand on them. And while the cast and a lot of the original crew is back, there are also new voices being added to the creative process. Simone Missick, who plays the lead character, Judge Lola Carmichael, and who also serves as executive producer for season three, remarked, "It's all fantasy to try to project what would have been and what could have been, but I know that what is, is a network like OWN that is excited about telling these authentic stories. And we have an amazing group of storytellers doing it along with our cast that is all coming back." 

Missick continued, "And as we fill out their world, we get to see some of our characters from the first two seasons go home in a different way. We get to find out a little bit more of who they are underneath, which is very exciting because that kind of diversity on screen was initially nurtured and now it's only being flourished even more as we step out this third season. And so I agree with Dee. I think we all feel the same way about our excitement about this new network and what we are able to do with storytellers."

Harris-Lawrence also said that this season will delve more into Judge Lola Carmichael's home life and her balancing her work with her personal responsibilities as a wife and mother, a theme that is important to OWN, being a Black woman-centered network. "I can't say that CBS curtailed that, but we do get to peel the onion a bit more," said Harris-Lawrence. 

Thematically—just as what's happening behind the scenes—the executive producers said that this season the show will focus on "new beginnings" as returning characters explore career shifts within the legal system as well as new relationship dynamics, and as new characters make their debuts. 

"It felt like what was supposed to be the next step for this show because OWN is so interested in telling these kinds of stories, these passionate stories of real life, and it's exciting to be able to bring the 'All Rise' audience to OWN and then to have OWN's audience that might not have discovered our show before get to know it," said Missick.