Born ‘Orpah’ Gail Winfrey, Oprah is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist known for her multi award winning show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ (1986-2011). She is the twentieth century’s richest African American with a net worth of 2.7 billion dollars.
This self-made billionaire was born on 29th January 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Oprah battled a despondent childhood that included poverty, sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy and the death of the child. At 13 when she finally left home to stay with her father in Nashville who provided her with a secure life and education. Oprah flourished and public speaking and oratory skills were her most prominent skills. After winning the beauty pageant Miss Black Tennessee at 17, Oprah caught the attention of WVOL, a radio station in Nashville, who offered her a job. During this time she won a full scholarship to Tennessee State University where she graduated majoring in Performing Arts and Speech Communications.
Oprah landed a job as an anchor at a local TV station. This led to another job in Baltimore where she was co-anchor at WJZ-TV News. Her first talk show ‘People Are Talking’ became quite popular. Her outgoing and ardent personality started grabbing the public’s attention. After devoting seven years to make this show successful, she was offered to host a morning show in the Windy City, Chicago. In no time ‘AM Chicago’ was one of the most acclaimed TV shows. Renamed in September 1985 as ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ the program started to broadcast on a national level. In the next three years it won several awards including three Daytime Emmy Awards in 1987 and another Emmy the next year. The show targeted various issues such as women empowerment and significance and human rights, which appealed to people of all ethnicities, genders and soon the whole of America was in love with this talented and magnetic personality who ran the show brilliantly.
Her passion for producing high standard entertainment programs encouraged her to form her own production company that she called ‘Harpo’ (which was her name spelled backwards). Harpo Productions Inc. gained the ownership and production rights to the Oprah Winfrey Show from 1998 onwards. The company produced other miniseries including ‘The Women of Brewster Place’ and movies like ‘There Are No Children Here’ (1993) and ‘Before Women Had Wings’ (1997). Oprah made her film debut in the 1985 film ‘The Color Purple’. Her movies also include ‘Charlotte’s Web’, ‘Bee movie’ and ‘The Princess and the Frog’.
Oprah revolutionized the ‘trash TV’ format to a more subtle, kinder and truly informative style and by the end of the 90’s completely reformed the way television was run. She co-founded a successful cable station called ‘Oxygen’ and changed the Discovery Health Channel to OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network that launched in January 2011. Oprah has authored five books and publishes a magazine ‘O, The Oprah Magazine’. Her website Oprah.com has an average of 70 million views and 6 million users every month. She signed a 55 million dollars contract with XM Satellite Radio to launch a new channel named ‘Oprah Radio’.
Rightfully called the ‘world’s most powerful woman’ by Time.com and CNN, Oprah has influenced the lives of millions of people by building a consummate association with them. Her endeavors as a media leader and philanthropist have made her as one of the most admired people of our time.