Oprah Winfrey, is one of the most influential women in the world. Loved by millions, she is arguably the most successful, talk show host on the planet. Smart, funny, generous and mega rich, Oprah, has taken her life and made it a triumphant success.
However, things were not always easy for Oprah, who came from very humble beginnings. Her early life was often filled with hardship and abuse, but even at a young age, Oprah said she knew she was born for greatness, and how right she was.
Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954, to Vernita Lee and Vernon Winfrey. Oprah,was supposed to be named after the biblical character ‘Orpah’, but it was misspelled on her birth-cert, and so she became known as Oprah.
Her parents separated when Oprah was still very young and she went to live on a farm with her grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee. It was her grandmother who instilled in Oprah, a love of books and reading. Oprah is still a voracious reader, reading up to three books a week.
It was this passion for reading, that inspired Oprah, to yearn for a better life for herself.
At the age of six, she went to live with her mother Vernita Lee in Milwaukee. However, her mother worked long hours as a cleaner and so was unable to look after her daughter properly, nor was she able to give Oprah, the support and encouragement that she had become accustomed to while she lived with her grandmother.
Oprah’s life took a radical turn for the worst, when at the age of nine she was raped by a cousin, then later by an uncle, she was also sexually molested by a so-called friend of the family.
The abuse had a devastating effect on her and she rebelled by becoming wild and promiscuous, roaming the streets of Milwaukee. At the age of 14, she became pregnant, however the baby was born prematurely and later died.
Eventually, Oprah became too much for her mother to handle, and she sent her to live with her father Vernon, in Tennessee. Vernon, was a strict disciplinarian, with high moral standards. He insisted on good study habits and created boundaries. Vernon, encouraged Oprah to read a book a week, and to learn five new words every day. Oprah, credits her father, with helping her to turn her life around.
With this new-found support, Oprah quickly forged ahead in school, becoming a grade A student. In addition, she was voted Most Popular Girl. She, then went on to secure herself a full scholarship to Tennessee State University, where she studied radio and television broadcasting.
Burgeoning Broadcasting Career
Oprah, began her broadcasting career, at the age of 17, at her local radio station WVOL where she worked as a newsreader, while still a student.
In 1976, she relocated to Baltimore, to co-anchor the Six O’Clock News, on WJZ-TV. She later co-hosted the talk show, People Are Talking, which became hugely popular with listeners.
But bigger and better opportunities awaited the talented Oprah, and she was invited to host A.M. Chicago, in Illinois. The most popular show at the time was hosted by Phil Donohue, however within a few months, Oprah’s show had won her 100,000 more viewers than Donohue.
A Star Is Born
The show was renamed ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, and neither Oprah, nor the show have ever looked back.
Being an astute business woman, she then formed Harpo productions thereby gaining ownership of the show. The next year the show was syndicated.
In June 1987, ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, scooped three Daytime Emmy Awards. The following year, the show received its second Emmy award for ‘Outstanding Talk/Service Program. Oprah, herself was awarded the International Radio and Television Society’s Broadcaster of the Year’, making her the youngest person to every receive the award in the IRTS’s 25 year history.
2008 Presidential Election
In 2008 Oprah Winfrey formally gave her support to Barack Obama in the U.S. Presidential Elections. It is thought that her endorsement, so far her only support for a presidential candidate, helped to significantly increase Obama’s profile and contributed towards him winning the elections that year.
The End Of An Era
‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, which finished in May 2011 after 25 years was watched by millions of people all over the world. Throughout that time Oprah, became a role model for women everywhere, her warmth, intelligence, and good humour, were a constant inspiration. She is quoted as saying “I knew there was a way out,I knew there was another kind of life because I had read about it. I knew there were other places, and there was another way of being.”
In November 2011 Oprah received an honorary Oscar for her humanitarian work. She received her award from a young girl she had funded through college.
Oprah now runs OWN television network. She describes it as a multi platform media network to entertain, inform and inspire people.
Her final Oprah Winfrey show attracted 16.4 million people. However, repeat shows still air in many countries around the world.
‘Every one of us gets through the tough times because somebody is there, standing in the gap to close it for us’.
‘I define joy as a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace – a connection to what matters’.
‘I finally realized that being grateful to my body was key to giving more love to myself’.
‘I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become’.
‘I trust that everything happens for a reason even when we’re not wise enough to see it’.
‘Though I am grateful for the blessings of wealth, it hasn’t changed who I am. My feet are still on the ground. I’m just wearing better shoes’.
Check out Yellow Magpie’s Oprah Winfrey Quotes: The Queen Of Talk Shares Her Thoughts to find out what she thinks about integrity, shoes, and people.
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