Oprah Gail Winfrey

Born    : January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi, United States

Residence        : Chicago, Illinois, United States

Occupation      : Talk show host, media mogul

Salary              : $385 million (2008)

Net Worth       : Above US$2.7 billion (Sept. 2008)

Partner             : Stedman Graham

Photo of Oprah Winfrey

While living in a small farming community, the girl had a troubled adolescence. She was sexually abused by a number of male relatives, and even the friends of her mother, Vernita. The poor black American girl then moved to live with her father Vernon in Nashville. But, something inside kept telling her that things would somehow change for the better. She would later say, “I remember thinking, my life won’t be like this, it will be better. And it wasn’t from a place of arrogance; it was just a place of knowing that things could be different for me somehow.”

Yes, Oprah Winfrey’s intuition proved correct. And in 2003, Oprah became the first African-American woman to reach billionaire status, according to Forbes Magazine. She has broken through cultural, geographical and gender barriers, letting the world know it’s not your circumstances, but your heart that determines how far you go in this world. In fact, Oprah’s influence on the world has been nothing short of amazing! She has redefined how the world sees women. One of the reasons she is such a great personality is because she listens. And through her ‘Oprah Winfrey’ show, she has taught the world how to listen and face some of the most important issues of our time.

Oprah was born on January 29, 1954. She entered Tennessee State University in 1971 and began working in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville. In 1976, Winfrey moved to Baltimore, where she hosted the TV chat show – People Are Talking. The show became a hit and Winfrey stayed with it for eight years, after which she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show – AM Chicago. Her major competitor in the time slot was Phil Donahue. Within several months, Winfrey’s open warm-hearted personal style had won her 100,006 more viewers than Donahue and had taken her show from last place to first in the ratings. Her success led to nationwide fame and a role in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film – The Color Purple, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Winfrey launched the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986 as a nationally syndicated, program. With its placement on 120 channels and an audience of 10 million people, the show grossed $125 million by the end of its first year, of which Winfrey received $30 million. She soon gained ownership of the program from ABC, drawing it under the control of her new production company, Harpo Productions (“Oprah” spelled backwards) and making more and more money from syndication. Riding on her wave of fame and publicity, her personal chef, Rosie Daley, and trainer, Bob Greene, both published best-selling books and became very rich.

Since she herself had a troubled childhood, the famed Oprah became a dedicated active to support the children’s rights. It is no exaggeration to say that her early trauma in life gave Oprah the tools and the strength to become great. She even calls herself an ‘abuse survivor’ and many a times she suffered because, “I didn’t want to say “No” because I also didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. I didn’t want to say “NO” because I didn’t want anybody angry with me.”

In 1991, this abuse survivor initiated a campaign to establish a national database of convicted child abusers. Then-President Clinton signed the “Oprah Bill” into law in 1993. In the aforementioned interview, Oprah stated:”A part of my mission in life now is to encourage every other child who has been abused to tell. You tell, and if they don’t believe you, you keep telling. You tell everybody until somebody listens to you. I don’t want another child to be afraid of saying, ‘This is what happened to me’.”

During the 2002 Christmas, her life changed when she traveled to South Africa to bring holiday cheer to the children. She calls those 21 days some of the most miraculous days of her life. “ I realized in those moments why I was born, why I am not married and do not have children of my own. These are my children. I made a decision to be a voice for those children, to empower them, to help educate them, so the spirit that burns alive inside each of them does not die,” she said. With the help of Nelson Mandela, Oprah launched Christmas-Kindness, giving the children of South Africa one day of pure joy, toys and hope, just as she received as a 12-year-old on welfare. According to the Chicago On Time , Oprah has donated more than $50 million to charity.

In 1999, she co-founded a company called Oxygen Media that is dedicated to producing cable and Internet programming for women. With this Oprah ensured her place in the forefront of the media industry and as one of the most powerful and wealthy people in show business.

In the words of Chicago Mayor Daley, “Oprah Winfrey is quite possibly the most successful woman we’ve seen in the last century. She is extremely disciplined and hardworking and has a natural ability to draw people to her.”

Perhaps the best compliment for her comes from Rev. Jesse Jackson who said, “She has handled success with grace and dignity. She has been mindful of people who represent the suffering that she has been through …She goes from the most humble people to the most celebrated without breaking her rhythm.”

Oprah Gail Winfrey
Rate this post