Recap: Jason Russell on Oprah

Our Chief Creative Officer Jason Russell sat down with Oprah for his first on-air interview since March. No question was off-limits. Did you miss the Next Chapter episode? Fear not, we’re recapping it for you with excerpts.

Oprah: The purpose of the film [KONY 2012] was what?

Jason: It was actually birthed out of anger, to be honest. I was so angry. I was so angry I had to make another movie. We’ve made 10 movies, we’ve toured them, we’ve done 13,000 screenings, what else can we do? Out of that anger and frustration came a movie that was brief, simple, powerful.

Oprah: What was going on in your offices at the time?

Jason: [I mean] no one left the office. We had one PR girl…she had 4,000 emails, no matter what. So she was checking them relentlessly and going through them but it never got below 4,000 emails.

Oprah: All the media of the world.

Jason: And I was so excited, because we were excited to get local news.

Oprah: And at the time you were doing everything in a span of a few days.

Jason: 17 interviews in 48 hours.

Oprah: Wow.

Jason: Ten interviews in LA, red-eye to New York, I couldn’t sleep on the plane, I was too excited. By the end of that day, my mind was exhausted. My mind was starting to become so defensive. Because every chair that I sat in, it was “What about this?” and “What about that?” and “What about that?”

Oprah, Jason & Danica Russell, and Acaye Jacob

Oprah: So what does a breakdown feel like? Because we want to go through the anatomy of a nervous breakdown. Take me through it.

Jason: A breakdown feels like you’re on a special mission…my mouth wouldn’t stop talking. I talk a lot as it is, I’m a talker, but this was pressured speech to the point where I would have to go like this [covers mouth with hands.]

Oprah: Really? To stop yourself?

Jason: I couldn’t stop talking.

Oprah: Were you speeding in your head?

Jason: It was racing. It was just so much. The Twitter feed, the phone calls, the text messages, the meetings. It never stopped. My brain kept going.

Oprah: So did you go crazy?

Jason: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It was like a soda can. And you shake it up and it explodes in the air.

Oprah: How do you end up on the street naked?

Jason: I wish I knew. I really wish I knew. But I want people to know that I take responsibility for that.

Oprah: What do those words mean to you? What does that mean?

Jason: I should have been listening to my loved ones, I should have surrendered KONY 2012 and Invisible Children to the people at large that aren’t my colleagues, I should have slowed down. Let go. And instead, I chose to keep pushing and keep pushing. And so I feel that responsibility, that weight. That’s something of course I’ll have to live with my whole life, my children will know about it one day.

Danica: “I’m hoping people still believe in the work. We’re starting over, rebooting, join us or don’t.”

Oprah: Take me back to the moment – you’ve seen the tape, right?

Jason: I’ve seen the tape.

Oprah: So when you look at the tape, what do you think?

Jason: When I look at that person, I see someone alone, I see someone who is totally out of control…I look at that video and think, “How sad for him.” Your mind is so, so powerful. You know this. It’s so strong. And if you feed it with this chaotic noise…you lose who you are.


Our new film, MOVE, is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the most viral video ever, the organization behind it, and the movement that made an African warlord famous. Watch & share at

11 Responses

  1. Tamya Andrew says:

    Heavenly Father Bless YOU, Jason.. We are with you in this house in Salt Lake City.

    I have seen the video. I am in the process of contacting kids in the ward to see who want to go. We will sponser one with airfare and room for Saturday night.

    Bless you. Let’s leave this despot nowhere to hide.

  2. Raul Egas says:

    Jason, the situation you went thru was nearly a representation of what all of us in a minor scale go thru with skeptical friends and family members, thanks for everything you do! And thanks for representing the effort of thousands of us who want a change! I’m glad you came back stronger because you had our support from day one! See you in DC. Raul Egas and Family

  3. Jason Phillips says:

    So pumped Jason is feeling better and back to health. Watched the MOVE video. I’ll be in DC continuing to support this movement!

  4. Ang says:

    I have been a member of your organization for a few years now, and if it were not health related, I would either be at your san diego office or in Africa to help do anything in my power to stop kony. When I heard the news of what happened after seeing the video back in March. I still in my heart had 0 doubts about The Invisible Children organization.

    Jason, I know we’ve never met, I know that you have a million emails but I just want you to know, that I am truly Thankful For You. For your efforts regardless of what happened earlier this year!

    I live in FL and work a lot of hours, but want to help, I am signed up on the monthly donation, it’s not a lot, but it’s all I can afford right now.

    There are some that are naysayers, they don’t matter my friend, take inventory for the ones that do.

    God BlessYou


  5. Ang says:

    Washington is def going to be in for a nice surprise in November LOL!

  6. Debbie Allen says:

    I watched the interview and was very moved by Mr. Russell’s comments. I can fully understand why he would be so moved and motivated by the horrors he had seen and heard about. We see these things, and if you have a working heart, we want a solution to the suffering.
    I recall seeing the news clips of his breakdown, and remember thinking that he must be suffering. Now I “get it”.
    I don’t know what it is about society today that praises people for their works, and then once everyone has jumped on the bandwagon, they turn on them to generate more news. It is disgusting and I believe a sign of the times. (1 Timothy 3:1-5)
    I do not know about your religious beliefs but there is a scripture that talks about those signing and groaning over the detestable things happening. (Ezekiel 9:4) I feel like your heart is doing this in reaction to what you have seen..
    I wanted you to know how moved I was and to share a positive thought, and that is in Psalm 37 9-11, 29. It talks about a time very soon, when God will deal with all the horrible things being done. While we all want to help, it is going to take that kind of power to fully rid the earth of such evil.
    I am so sorry for what you went through, and wish you and your family the very best.

  7. dianehurst1 says:

    Thanks for the recap. I couldn’t watch the program, but as someone who was deeply touched by the Kony 2012 film, and then saddened to hear of Jason Russell’s nervous breakdown, this is good news indeed!

    Invisible Children has been going forward with their mission, and now that Jason Russell has been restored to health, he is able to once again use his strengths and talents for this work, too.

  8. MTM says:

    I watched the Oprah interview and felt so sorry for Jason and Danica, and I don’t think Jason has anything to apologize for. His unwavering dedication for the past nine years, to help the thousands of people suffering in Africa, due to a madman named Joseph Kony, lead him to a place where his brain became completely overloaded and overrun, which caused him to suffer a break down.

    Jason, I am so sorry that you had to endure that, am so happy you are well again, and commend you for being committed to the extent that your brain would literally “Stop At Nothing”! In my book, you are a hero to the cause!

    I must also admit, which I am actually ashamed to admit, that while I was aware of what was happening in these countries in Africa, and had also heard of KONY 2012, I had never actually watched the video, therefore I didn’t even know who Jason Russell or Invisible Children were, until I saw the Oprah interview.

    I was so touched that I grabbed my laptop before the interview had even finished, and before I knew it I watched the KONY 2012 video, followed by KONY Part II – Beyond Famous, followed by MOVE, and the next thing I knew I was registering myself and my 15 year old son to attend the event in Washington, DC on Nov. 17th.

    I am now going to purchase a couple of t-shirts, contact every local, region, and international leader, donate $$$, and spread the word. I already shared the MOVE video on Facebook right after I watched it and I also let everyone on FB know that I registered myself and my son to attend MOVE:DC.

    I intend to help out however I can and am proud to do so! Let’s get this madman!

  9. Lia Thibodeau says:

    Our family is so happy you are healed, Jason. Our hearts are always with you. Love to your family and our extended IC family, always. With Gabriel being a Roadie and going to Oprah’s and DC with you, we feel a special bond to Invisible Children and the sweet children of Africa. It is a cause that we will always believe in and support whole-heartedly. Love to your family, The Thibodeaus

  10. Nicole says:

    Jason, it is wonderful to see you doing so well. Thank you for continuing to inspire me, and for all of the good that you bring to this world. I am so proud of you and Invisible Children.

  11. Nadira says:

    I am happy for you , your family , your friends and IC that you are recovering well !

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