Greenleaf is an American television drama series, created by Craig Wright, and executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate Television. Clement Virgo also serves as an executive producer and director. It stars Keith David, Lynn Whitfield, and Merle Dandridge. Greenleaf premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network on June 21, 2016.[10]

Greenleaf follows the unscrupulous world of the Greenleaf family with scandalous secrets and lies, and their sprawling Memphis megachurch with predominantly African-American members. The series' lead characters are Bishop James Greenleaf (David) and Lady Mae Greenleaf (Whitfield), who are the patriarch and matriarch of the Greenleaf family, and Grace Greenleaf (Dandridge), their estranged daughter who has returned home after 20 years following the mysterious death of her sister, Faith.

Greenleaf has received positive reviews from critics, with most praising Dandridge, Whitfield and David's performances.[3][4] The series premiere drew 3.04 million viewers, making it the No. 1 series debut in OWN history.[5] On April 21, 2016, the series was renewed for a second season ahead of its television premiere.[7][8] On August 7, 2017, the series was renewed for a third season.[40]



On July 30, 2015, it was announced that Oprah Winfrey Network ordered straight-to-series new scripted drama Greenleaf about powerful African-American dynasty of the Greenleaf family and their sprawling megachurch in Memphis, Tennessee.[9][10] After Ava DuVernay's Queen Sugar production, it's making Greenleaf the second scripted drama on the network that is not from Tyler Perry.[12] The series was created by Lost and Six Feet Under writer Craig Wright and executive produced by Oprah Winfrey with Wright and Lionsgate Television.13-episodes for first season set for production later in 2015. On September 9, 2015, The Book of Negroes writer and director Clement Virgo joined the series as executive producer and director of the pilot episode.[10]

Filming of the first season began in October, 2015 in Atlanta,[10] and ended on March 24, 2016.[10] On January 21, 2016, it was announced that series will debut with a two-night premiere at 10pm Tuesday, May 24, 2016 and 10pm Wednesday, May 25, and will regularly air on Wednesdays at 10pm.[10] Later premiere was moved to June 21, 2016 and June 22, 2016.[10] The world premiere of Greenleaf will be shown during Tribeca Film Festival in April, before television debut in June 2016.[10][10][20]


Casting advertising began in August 2015. On August 24, 2015, it was announced that Lynn Whitfield, Merle Dandridge and Desiree Ross are the first actors cast in series.[21] Emmy Award winner Whitfield will star as Lady Mae Greenleaf, Bishop Greenleaf’s wife, steely and power and money hungry matriarch of the family, while Dandridge play her estranged daughter who returns to home with her teenage daughter (played by Ross).[21] On September 3, 2015, Keith David was cast in the leading role of Bishop James Greenleaf, the family patriarch and leader of Calvary Fellowship World Ministries.[22] On September 4, 2015 Tye White has been cast as son-in-law of the Bishop.[23] On September 9, 2015, Lamman Rucker, Kim Hawthorne and Deborah Joy Winans have landed the last three regular roles.[8] Rucker plays eldest son, while Hawthorne stars as his controlling wife. Winans plays the youngest daughter of the Bishop.[9]

On September 24, 2015, it was announced that series' executive producer Oprah Winfrey joined Greenleaf in a recurring role as Mavis McCready, the sister of Lady Mae Greenleaf.[26][27] Whitfield and Winfrey previous co-starred in the 1989 miniseries The Women of Brewster Place. On November 20, 2015 Anna Diop was cast as a teacher who is engaged to Greenleaf Estate’s manager.[28] Three days later, it was announced that Terri J. Vaughn will recur as chief housekeeper at Greenleaf mansion.[29]

For the second season, Lovie Simone and GregAlan Williams were promoted to series regulars after appearing as recurring in almost all episodes in first season.[41]

Cast and characters

Lynn Whitfield and Keith David star in the series.

Main cast

  • Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf, charismatic and Bishop of Calvary Fellowship and family patriarch
  • Lynn Whitfield as Daisy Mae "First Lady Mae" Greenleaf née McCready, Bishop Greenleaf’s wife, First Lady of Calvary Fellowship and family matriarch
  • Merle Dandridge as Pastor Grace "Gigi" Greenleaf, Mae and Bishop's middle daughter who returns to home 20 years after escaping from the family, intent on putting her Uncle Mac away for molesting her sister Faith as well as many other young women
  • Desiree Ross as Sophia Greenleaf, Grace’s teenage daughter who is interested in following in her mother’s ministry footsteps
  • Lamman Rucker as Pastor Jacob Greenleaf, the eldest ne’er-do-well son of the Bishop and Associate Pastor at Triumph Church
  • Kim Hawthorne as Kerissa Greenleaf, Jacob’s ambitious and controlling wife and headmistress of Excellence Academy
  • Deborah Joy Winans as Charity Greenleaf, the youngest Greenleaf daughter and also Minister of Music at Calvary Fellowship
  • Tye White as Kevin Satterlee, Charity's ex-husband and former director of Outreach at Calvary Fellowship
  • Gregory Alan Williams as Robert "Mac" McCready, Lady Mae's brother, who is also a known child molester (recurring season 1, main season 2)
  • Lovie Simone as Zora Greenleaf, Kerissa and Jacob's rebellious teenage daughter (recurring season 1, main season 2-)

Recurring cast

  • Oprah Winfrey as Mavis McCready, Lady Mae and Mac's sister and a close confidant of Grace; also used to be a blues club owner
  • Terri J. Vaughn as Melisse, the chief housekeeper at Greenleaf mansion (season 1)
  • Benjamin Patterson as Noah Kendall, Greenleaf Estate’s manager, church Security chief and Gigi's ex-boyfriend and childhood sweetheart (season 1)
  • Anna Diop as Isabel, a teacher who is engaged to Greenleaf Estate’s manager, Noah Kendall (season 1)
  • Bill Cobbs as Henry McCready, Lady Mae, Mavis, and Mac's father (seasons 1–2)
  • Michael Rodrick as Ray Fisher, Sophia's father from Arizona.
  • Kristin Erickson as Alexa Campbell, the Bishop's former Secretary and Jacob's mistress. (season 1)
  • Terri Abney as Faith Greenleaf, Mae and Bishop's late oldest daughter, who dies before first episode
  • Gary Weeks as Adrian Miller
  • Jen Harper as Deacon Connie Sykes, Lady Mae's confidante and legacy member of the Deacon Board with a love/hate relationship with Bishop
  • Roxzane T. Mims as Darlene, the second secretary
  • Njema Williams as Pastor Thomas Sneed
  • Parnell Damone Marcano as Carlton Cruise Calvary's former choir director and best friend, he was terminated by the church due to budget cuts, but he believes it was because of his open homosexual engagement to his fiancé.
  • Karan Kendrick as Wanda, Charity's confidante and assistant in the Ministry of Music
  • Rick Fox as Darius Nash, a journalist who helps investigates Mac's case and eventually becomes Grace's new love interest
  • Avis-Marie Barnes as Misty Williams, a deacon board member who often disagrees with Bishop along with her husband, Fred
  • L. Warren Young as Fred Williams, a deacon board member who often disagrees with Bishop along with his wife, Misty
  • Carlacia Grant as Danielle Turner, a teenage girl who was one of Mac's rape victims
  • Deji LaRay as David Nelson, a cop who seeks help at Calvary in the wake of a protest against him. (season 1)
  • Xavier Charles as Morris Davis
  • Zachary S. Williams as William
  • Jason Dirden as Basie Skanks, a Pastor of Greenleaf’s rival church Triumph who is a thorn in the side of the Bishop[42]
  • Roshon Fegan as Isaiah Hambrick, Zora's boyfriend, a rising young Christian singing bad boy from Triumph that is abusive to Zora both verbally and physically, and is a thorn side of Sophia [42][43]
  • Sean Dominic as Martin Jabari Johnson, a record producer hired by Charity to produce Calvary's new album and Charity's possible love interest.[42][43]
  • William H. Bryant as Aaron Jeffries, a lawyer hired by Cavalry and a possible love interest for a now divorced Kevin, Charity's former husband
  • Antonio J. Bell as Roberto Calloway, Sophia's boyfriend, a young Christian boy from Triumph.
  • Asia'h Epperson as Tasha Skanks, wife of Basie Skanks and rival of Kerissa and Lady Mae.
  • LeToya Luckett as Rochelle Cross

Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
113June 21, 2016 (2016-06-21)August 31, 2016 (2016-08-31)
216March 15, 2017 (2017-03-15)September 27, 2017 (2017-09-27)


Season 1 (2016)

No. in
No. in
TitleDirectorWriterOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
11"A Time to Heal"Clement VirgoCraig WrightJune 21, 2016 (2016-06-21)3.04[8]

The drama centered on a Memphis megachurch opens with the return home of estranged daughter Grace Greenleaf (Merle Dandridge) following the death of her sister, Faith. Her father, the church bishop, seems happy to see her, but other family members are less than welcoming. Complicating matters even more: she learns unsettling information about the family and her sister's death from her Aunt Mavis.

End credits: "Satan, We're Gonna Tear Your Kingdom Down" by Shirley Caesar
22"The Baptism"Donna DietchCraig WrightJune 22, 2016 (2016-06-22)1.93[15]

Grace decides to move home in order to pursue the person she blames for her sister's death, but working at the church proves to be more difficult than she imagined. In other events, Jacob takes on more responsibilities at the church as a result of her return; Kevin has doubts about his and Charity's plan to start a family; and the Bishop refuses a senator's inquiries into the church's finances.

End credits: "Somebody Was Watching" by Pops Staples
33"We Shall See Him As He Is"Charles Stone IIIArt AlamoJune 22, 2016 (2016-06-22)2.05[15]

Grace has an uncomfortable dinner date with Noah and Isabel; Jacob and Kerissa face the deficiencies in their marriage; Kevin has an unwanted attraction; Senator Banks ups the pressure in his inquiry into the church's finances; and Grace confronts a teenage girl who was once assaulted by Mac.

End credits: "Get Your House In Order" by Dottie Peoples
44"Behind Closed Doors"Clement VirgoMike FlynnJune 29, 2016 (2016-06-29)1.88[17]

The mayor calls in a favor, which leaves the Bishop in a bind that could split the church; Grace is blackmailed about Faith's past; Jacob and Kerissa attend couples counseling; and Charity has difficulty keeping a secret; Later, Bishop James invites the county police department to come to the church but the Deacon Board isn’t too happy.

End credits: "Every Step" by Mavis Staples
55"Meaningful Survival"Charles Randolph-WrightErica L. AndersonJuly 6, 2016 (2016-07-06)2.06[16]
A family in the church asks for prayers; Lady Mae tries to mend fences between the Bishop and Deacon Sykes; Jacob's infidelities push Kerissa to her limit; and Kevin takes a step toward exploring his sexuality.
66"Good Morning, Calvary"Janice CookeElizabeth HunterJuly 13, 2016 (2016-07-13)1.79[17]
The Bishop appoints Grace to preach on Sunday in his absence; Jacob tries to arrange a TV deal for the church; and Kevin's flippant advice to Charity on how to hire a new music director backfires.
77"One Train May Hide Another"Rob J. GreenleaMando AlvaradoJuly 20, 2016 (2016-07-20)2.17[28]
Mac is slated to be named "Memphis Man of the Year," but first must advise Charity about the music director; help Jacob with his TV pitch to the Bishop; and deal with paranoia about Grace's effort to bring him to justice. Also on his plate: the IRS audit; and the unwanted appearance of his and Lady Mae's father.
88"The Whole Book"Allan KroekerArt AlamoJuly 27, 2016 (2016-07-27)1.74[153]
Grace reaches out to Officer Nelson while also working with Noah in an effort to find evidence against Mac; Lady Mae is suspicious of Grace and Noah; Jacob presents his TV plan to the Bishop; Lady Mae pushes the Bishop to reveal a secret; and the Bishop deals with a woman who is out to destroy Calvary.
99"The Broken Road"Clement VirgoErica L. AndersonAugust 3, 2016 (2016-08-03)2.07[5]
Security at Calvary is debated following the church shooting of David Nelson; Charity confronts Kevin; and Mac plans to leave the country.
1010"March to the Sea"Allan KroekerTyler Burkett & Ivy Mariel PrussAugust 10, 2016 (2016-08-10)2.31[5]
Grace thwarts Mac's attempt to blackmail the Bishop; and deals with Sophia's father, Ray, who has doubts about Grace's parenting. In other events, Charity, who's fed up with being disrespected, finally speaks up to the family.
1111"Men Like Trees Walking"Gregg ArakiCasey VandeventerAugust 17, 2016 (2016-08-17)2.12[5]
Surrounded by scandal, the church is losing money and members; Ray tries to get custody of Sophia; Jacob's offers to help are rejected; Kevin gains closure.
1212"Veni, Vidi, Vici"Regina KingRobert EngelsAugust 24, 2016 (2016-08-24)2.09[5]
Grace, Ray and Sophia go to court; Basie, the Bishop and Jacob discuss an opportunity at Triumph; Deacon Sykes wants to hold a "women's day" at a smaller venue; Adrian gets the wrong idea about his lunch with Kevin; Mavis has problems with her club; and Kevin shares his feelings with Charity, leading to catastrophic results.
1313"What Are You Doing Here?"Clement VirgoCraig WrightAugust 31, 2016 (2016-08-31)2.37[5]
In the Season 1 finale, Lady Mae wants to preach at the "Women's Day" event but Deacon Sykes is not convinced; Basie wants Jacob to run a new community center that will be built near Calvary; Lady Mae confronts Mavis; and Mac returns home, leaving Grace and the rest of the Greenleaf family suspicions.

Season 2 (2017)

No. in
No. in
TitleDirectorWriterOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
141"A House Divided"Clement VirgoStory by : Craig Wright & Katherine McGhee-Anderson
Teleplay by : Craig Wright
March 15, 2017 (2017-03-15)1.64[5]
The Greenleaf family is left reeling in the aftermath of Mac's release; Lady Mae makes a last-minute ditch attempt in order to save the Bishop; and Pastor Basie's announcement opens a rift between the Bishop and Jacob.
152"Strange Bedfellows"Charles Randolph-WrightErica L. AndersonMarch 22, 2017 (2017-03-22)1.35[5]
Jacob meets with Basie to talk about his new role at Triumph II, Calvary's new rival church; the Bishop takes care of some unfinished business with his father-in-law and runs into Mac; as Kerissa prepares her family to leave the Greenleaf home she tours her and Jacob's new residence; and Grace meets with a journalist (Rick Fox) who's been closely following the Greenleaf family.
163"A Mother's Love"Tanya HamiltonDavid EhrmanMarch 29, 2017 (2017-03-29)1.32[5]
After one of Mac's victims attempts suicide, Grace makes a rash decision that may have lasting consequences; Kevin's mother (Denise Burse) visits, exposing old wounds; and Lady Mae tries to reason with Jacob.
174"Revival"Janice CookeMando Alvarado & Chelsey LoraApril 5, 2017 (2017-04-05)1.25[5]
Bishop and Lady Mae preside over Calvary's Fall Revival, and decide to take action against Basie; Lady Mae and Grace connect with old friends; and Grace confronts Mac's new girlfriend.
185"Point of No Return"Clement VirgoIvy Mariel PrussApril 12, 2017 (2017-04-12)1.23[5]
When Basie hears about the injunction filed to stop construction of Triumph Two, he stages a sit-in at Calvary in an attempt to force Bishop's hand. In other events, Grace's plan to put Mac away hits a snag.
196"The Royal Family"Allan KroekerErica Butler & Craig WrightApril 19, 2017 (2017-04-19)1.34
Kevin and Charity begin divorce proceedings, but the circumstances are exacerbated when Lady Mae learns the truth about Kevin; and Grace and Darius's relationship reaches a stalemate.
207"Born To Trouble"Geary McLeodArt AlamoApril 26, 2017 (2017-04-26)1.35
The anniversary of Faith's death is at hand and Grace shows no sign of giving up her pursuit of Mac. Basie and Jacob, meanwhile, receive bad news regarding Triumph Two's finances.
218"And The Sparks Fly Upward"Clement VirgoErica L. AndersonMay 3, 2017 (2017-05-03)1.34
In the mid-season finale, Jacob makes Triumph pastor Basie Skanks an offer to clear his debt and gain full control of Triumph II; and Mac receives bad news from Skip Leonard that puts him in an explosive collision course with Grace.
229"The Bear"Clement VirgoErica L. AndersonAugust 15, 2017 (2017-08-15)1.81
In the mid-season premiere, Grace and Mac's showdown sends shockwaves through the family; Jacob offers the Bishop an olive branch; and Kevin makes a decision that leaves Charity reeling.
2310"Call Not Complete"Dawn WilkinsonTy BurkettAugust 16, 2017 (2017-08-16)1.25
Jacob and Kerissa establish their new ministry; Charity desperately tries to reach Kevin; and Darius gets an offer that may take him out of Memphis, leaving Grace to wonder where she fits in his life.
2411"Changing Season"Janice CookeLolis Eric ElieAugust 23, 2017 (2017-08-23)1.46
When Sophia and Zora are excluded from the upcoming debutante cotillion, Lady Mae sets out to make things right; Grace is inspired by Basie's sermon; and Charity reaches out to Carlton.
2512"The House Rules"Nicole RubioArt AlamoAugust 30, 2017 (2017-08-30)1.36
Basie's sermon regarding inclusivity in the church goes viral, lighting a fire under Grace and provoking the Bishop's suspicions. In other events, Kerissa pushes Jacob to get a day job.
2613"Silence and Loneliness"Billie WoodruffMando Alvarado & Chelsey LoraSeptember 6, 2017 (2017-09-06)1.50
A series of recurring nightmares leaves Grace unnerved; Charity looks to take her relationship with Jabari to the next level; and Bishop gives Basie an ultimatum.
2714"The Father's Will"Janice CookeCasey VandeventerSeptember 13, 2017 (2017-09-13)1.44
Lionel returns and drops a bombshell on Bishop and Lady Mae; Charity receives great news from Jabari; and Jacob encounters resistance on his first day as head of Triumph; and Grace is ready to take her relationship with Darius to the next level.
2815"Two by Two"Tanya HamiltonArt AlamoSeptember 20, 2017 (2017-09-20)1.57
Charity's plan to go on tour hits a roadblock; Skip Leonard offers Jacob an enticing deal; and Lady Mae suddenly finds herself at odds with the Bishop.
2916"The Pearl"Clement VirgoCraig Wright & David EhrmanSeptember 27, 2017 (2017-09-27)1.40[7]
In the Season 2 finale, the tensions in Zora and Isaiah's relationship come to a head at the cotillion. In other events, Lady Mae confronts and make an overture of peace to Mavis, and the result is a revelation that sends Mae into a tailspin.

International broadcast

The series is broadcast by Netflix worldwide outside the United States and Canada.[7]


201748th NAACP Image Awards[7]Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesLynn WhitfieldNominated
Gracie Awards[7]Actress in a Supporting Role - DramaLynn WhitfieldWon
49th NAACP Image Awards[7]
Outstanding Drama SeriesGreenleafPending
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesLynn WhitfieldPending
Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic SeriesErica L. Anderson (for "The Bear")Pending
Outstanding Gospel/Christian Album (Traditional or Contemporary)Greenleaf Soundtrack Volume 2Pending


The first season of Greenleaf has received positive reviews from critics,[3] particularly praised acting performances of series lead actress Merle Dandridge, as well as Lynn Whitfield and Keith David. On Rotten Tomatoes, has a rating of 79%, based on 18 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10.[4] The site consensus: "Immersed in a unique megachurch setting, Greenleaf is a juicy family soap bolstered by a provocative spirituality."[4] Metacritic gave season one of the show a score of 68 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[3]

Maureen Ryan, television critic for Variety stated "Dandridge is naturalistic in her portrayal of a practical, cautious woman re-examining her family history and her own choices and mistakes, while Whitfield has the imperious aura of a grand soap opera diva in the tradition of Joan Collins." Daniel Fienberg from The Hollywood Reporter wrote in his review "effectively balance the melodrama, vast ensemble and church details and contribute a level of technical proficiency that goes far beyond what the Tyler Perry Factory brings to The Haves and the Have Nots, OWN's big scripted hit."[7] The Boston Globe's Matthew Gilbert compared Greenleaf with primetime soaps like Revenge and the similarly black-cast Empire.[7]


The gospel songs recorded by the cast were released on iTunes, as an album entitled Greenleaf (Gospel Companion Soundtrack, Vol. 1).[7]