OWN Greenlights Unscripted Series ‘The Hero Effect’ from United Way Worldwide (EXCLUSIVE)

Elizabeth Wagmeister

OWN has greenlit “The Hero Effect,” an inspirational docuseries from nonprofit United Way Worldwide and Dolphin Entertainment, Variety has learned exclusively.

“The Hero Effect” showcases stories of ordinary individuals who are making extraordinary differences in their communities. Each episode is shot on location in different communities across the country. The real-life stories, presented by United Way — the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit — build on the company’s mission to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community.

The 10-episode series will be co-hosted by NFL star and “Dancing with the Stars” winner Donald Driver, along with actress Emily Wilson.

“Throughout my 35 years of working with communities at United Way, I’ve learned that the vast majority of people are eager to make the world a better place,” said Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide. “The men and women featured in ‘The Hero Effect’ are our local heroes, stepping forward to make a difference in their communities. We’re incredibly inspired by their work and excited to help share them and their efforts with the world.”

Each of the “heroes” featured were nominated from the 1,200 United Ways in the country. Dolphin Entertainment also vetted many organizations and initiatives, to ultimately find the best stories for the series.

Dolphin Entertainment’s CEO, Bill O’Dowd, commented: “Instinctively, we all believe that there are quiet heroes out in the world, helping others in meaningful ways. “‘The Hero Effect’ hopes to create some noise around their efforts, in the hope of inspiring others to do the same. With the Oprah Winfrey Network and United Way, we have two strong partners who have built lead leading, recognizable brands on celebrating the power of the human spirit, and will help us to bang the drum for more heroes.”

OWN, which acquired the series, was the first network United Way approached when shopping the show around. “What could possibly be a better brand match than the Oprah Winfrey Network and United Way for a series which attempts to inspire everyone to find their inner hero and help others in their community?” says Lisa Bowman, United Way Worldwide’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “That’s been exactly the message of United Way for over 125 years, and Oprah Winfrey personifies that message for the modern audience.”

The first season will cover issues including veterans services, human trafficking, early childhood education and foster care children.

“Our hope is to create a ripple effect and inspire viewers through the stories and personal journeys of our featured heroes to optimize their own potential,” said Bowman.

“The Hero Effect” will air on the second Saturday of every month 10 a.m., beginning on Nov. 12. Each Saturday morning, two back-to-back episodes will air.

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