Oprah’s Next Chapter Jason Russell Interview Recap
Invisible Children’s Jason Russell was interviewed on Oprah’s Next Chapter this evening and shared the details of his naked, public breakdown in San Diego this past year. For those of you not familiar with the story, Jason Russell is the co-founder of Invisible Children and created the viral Youtube video about warlord Joseph Kony. The Kony 2012 video received over 100 million views in less than one week, and donations poured in by the second.
Kony 2012 is a “smart, hip internet documentary” by filmmaker Jason Russell. Joseph Kony is a Ugandan warlord known for turning children into sex slaves and soldiers. Although other videos about Kony have been published in the past, none of them received the amount of attention that the Kony 2012 video did. Jason Russell, and his organization Invisible Children, had succeeded in getting attention turned towards the capture of Joseph Kony.
Jason Russell faced a lot of scrutiny following the popularity of the video. Many people questioned where all of the money was going, and whether or not Joseph Kony was even alive today.
Jason Russell had what his doctor described as a “psychotic break.” Jason was naked on the street and seemed agitated and disoriented. Russell’s naked rant was caught on video by a passerby. After Jason Russell’s meltdown he vanished from the public …. Until now (on his Oprah’s Next Chapter appearance).
Oprah Winfrey met with Jason Russell and his wife in San Diego for tonight’s interview. He has been on the Oprah show four times in the past to talk about Invisible Children.
First Oprah asked Jason Russell how he was doing. Jason states he’s “doing really well.” Jason explains that you don’t go through something so public and dramatic, and not grow stronger. He also explains that he has gotten a lot closer to his wife and feels “amazing.”
Jason Russell explains that it was a “Brief Reactive Psychosis” because of the stress that he was under. He goes on to explain that PTSD was also a part of his breakdown. He goes on to explain that a lot of what he experienced caused PTSD after 10 years of visiting war torn countries. The children that Jason Russell visited were forced to sleep in pens in order to prevent Joseph Kony from kidnapping them. Joseph Kony would mutilate kids’ faces and force the kids to murder their parents.
Jason Russell was a film student at USC when he first started making the Uganda documentaries. The first documentary really tore him apart emotionally, and he turned it into a life mission to bring the atrocities in Uganda to light.
On March 15, 2012 filmmaker Jason Russell had a very public breakdown in San Diego. Jason was naked, and some reported that he was masturbating on the street. He was also seen pounding his fists against the sidewalk. The breakdown occurred ten days after the release of the video.
The goal for the Kony 2012 Youtube video was 500,000 views in one year. They reached almost a million views in their first 36 hours. They had over 100 million views in just one week. It was the week that everything seemed to change for “bad girls” all around the world.
One of the interns couldn’t get her inbox below 4,000 views. Jason Russell had 17 interviews in 48 hours. Jason felt like he was always on the defensive, trying to defend what the organization was doing with all of the money. Many people asked why he put his young son in the video. Russell felt like the attacks were very “personal” in nature. Jason Russell also looked himself up on the internet and was disturbed about some of the negative attacks on the internet. People were saying that he was “terrible” and “going to hell.”
Jason Russell not only felt the negative attacks, but he was also worried about the “pressure” that he was facing. People around the world, including the United Nations, wanted to know his answers to difficult scenarios.
Next, Jason Russell took us through the anatomy of a psychotic break. Jason explains that a breakdown feels like you are on a special mission. He literally could not stop talking and his thoughts were racing in his head. He literally had to hold his hand up to his mouth to prevent himself from talking. His brain always kept going because of the constant Twitter feed, interviews, and text messages. He could not fall asleep at night because his mind was constantly racing.
Oprah point blank asked Jason Russell how he ended up on the street the next morning. Jason said that he wished he knew how it all went down. He did explain that he was having a difficult time sleeping. He had only about a couple hours of sleep before the night breakdown, plus he had not been sleeping much since the video was released.
Jason explained that he had a friend over at the house and he just snapped. Jason’s wife and kids were not at home, luckily. Jason remembers that he was flipping off cars and running around the trees. He slipped his robe off. He also explained that it was not “him.” It was like an out of body experience.
Jason Russell goes on to say that he takes complete responsibility for what happened. He also explains that he should have listened to his friends and family and slowed down. He should have given the responsibility for Invisible Children over to others when he was feeling so worn down.
Jason states that he did watch the video, and explains what he was doing on the video. He shows Oprah that the ring he was wearing got beat up from his hands pounding against the ground.
Oprah asked Jason if he was masturbating within the video. He goes on to explain that nobody saw that or recorded that, but it would not have been a “far extension” since he was naked during the breakdown.
Jason Russell recalls that he thought he had to get to New York in the next 12 hours, so he left his yard to go ask cars to take him to the airport. He explains that your mind is so powerful.
Jason was taken away by police and put in a psychiatric hospital. He was very confused and thought that people were trying to kill him. Jason would not take any medications at the hospital. He didn’t trust anyone, and thought everyone was out to get him. It took two weeks for Jason to regain a sense of himself.
Oprah asks Jason if he was on drugs. Jason says he was on “zero” drugs and that he does not do drugs. He goes on to explain that if he saw that video he would think that the person was on drugs.
Jason also responds to gay rumors. Jason explains that his parents founded a children’s theatre so he has been around theater his entire life. He talks about how he was snapping and acting theatrical in the video.
Oprah asks what the big lesson was for Jason. He explains that it was kind of like an ego splitting. He was on a mission and stopped listening to other people. Russell also explains that he had about nine years of PTSD that compounded everything.
Jason Russell is now back to work three days a week, and Invisible Children has just released a movie called “Move.” The new video discusses what happened with Jason and aims to reactivate the mission.
Jason met his wife, Danica, when they were performing on stage as children. They have two children together. Oprah asked Danica what it was like to see her husband fall apart. Danica goes on to explain that it was her lifelong best friend and that she knows him better than anyone. It was scary to see him lose himself in just a minute.
Danica and Jason had to move to a new home because they had so many people trying to record and watch their every movement. Danica shielded the kids from what happened, and they never saw anything.
Danica explains that Jason started pounding things inside the house, and that was when she left with the kids. Danica’s #1 priority was that she did not want the kids to witness anything. After learning that Jason was laying in the busy street, she thought that he could have died.
Danica explains that she feels like she has an even “better” version of her husband now. Danica and Jason have shielded their young children from what happened. Danica and Jason hope that everyone still believes in the work that they are doing after what happened.
Oprah meets with Jacob after several years. Jacob is a boy that Jason Russell helped support when he was younger. Jacob states that he almost felt guilty when he learned about Jason’s breakdown. Jacob is now working on becoming an attorney.
It is estimated that over 30,000 children have been kidnapped by Kony and the LRA. Some reports say that it could be up to 100,000.
Jason Russell asks whether it was worth it, he states, “it’s difficult to answer was it worth it to almost die over something you’re so passionate about.”
Next on Oprah’s Next Chapter – Fergie and Josh Duhamel, Oprah talks about Fergie’s past drug use, her attraction to females, and rumors about Josh Duhamel cheating on her. Oprah will also ask her about leaving the Black Eyed Peas (in two weeks from now)
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