Oprah Gail Winfrey is a talk show host, media proprietor, actress, richest African American, the first and only black multi-billionaire in America and enormously a significant philanthropist. She is best known for being the host of her own, wildly popular program, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 seasons. Oprah is one of the strongest, wisest, and inspirational figures in the world who was determined to make a name for herself despite her rough childhood.
Yes, you hear it right, and now let’s hear the Oprah Winfrey story!
Oprah Winfrey Story – 7 Most Interesting Things
1. Oprah’s Childhood And Education
- Born into Poverty
Oprah was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi to a teenage single mother Vernita Lee. During the time of Oprah’s birth, her mother worked as a housemaid. Few months after her birth, Vernita took Oprah to live with her maternal grandmother where she spent the first 6 years of her life in extreme poverty.
She was raised by her strict grandma, and it was under her guidance only that he learned to read at the age of two and a half years. Also, her grandmother kept her on a strict schedule that made her do lots of daily farm chores. While the life of the farm seemed a bit lonely, Oprah made the most of it by “playacting” in front of an “audience” of farm animals; besides, it was nice for Oprah to have the chance to bond with her grandmother.
- A Childhood Full Of Abuse
Oprah time and again has explained that her childhood was filled with abuse that no one should experience. Lack of parental care took a toll on her development; She was just 9 years old when she was first raped by her 19-year old cousin who was babysitting her. Miserably, this was not the only time that she experienced this kind of abuse. She was also sexually abused by her uncle, her mother’s boyfriend, and a family friend. Oprah blamed herself for the abuse and she kept silent about all of it for years. At just 14 years of age, she became pregnant but sadly the baby was born prematurely and died in a hospital weeks later.
- The Turning Point
Surprisingly, it was Oprah’s father Vernon Winfrey who turned her life into the right direction. Oprah was sent to live with his father who did a lot of emotional and reconstructive works to put his daughter’s shattered life back on track. One of the best decisions was to enroll her at Nashville East High School where she could continue her education.
In 1971, Winfrey entered Tennessee State University. She began working in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville.
2. Early Broadcasting Career
It was 1976 when Winfrey moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where she hosted the ‘People Are Talking’ a TV chat show. Astoundingly, this TV show became a huge hit and Winfrey stayed with it for 8 years post which she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her morning show, A.M. Chicago
3. Legendary ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’
The first episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show aired in 1985. The show broke records and became the highest-rated daytime; and the rest, as they say, is history. From 1987 to 1998, the show won several Emmys for Best Talk Show, and Winfrey was honored as Best Talk Show Host.
4. Massive Weight Loss
Winfrey has publicly struggled with her weight, and her numerous weight loss efforts have been well-documented. She never gave up on losing weight and continues to inspire millions struggling to lose weight. She says, “My goal isn’t to be thin. My goal is for my body to be the weight it can hold — to be strong and healthy and fit, to be itself. My goal is to learn to embrace this body and to be grateful every day for what it has given me.”
5. Oxygen Media and O Magazine
In 1999, she coined Oxygen Media, a company dedicated to producing cable and Internet programming for women. With this, Winfrey safeguarded her spot in the vanguard of the media industry as one of the most powerful and wealthy people in show business. Winfrey’s highly successful monthly magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, published by Hearst, debuted in 2000.
6. TV Network – OWN
In 2011, soon after The Oprah Winfrey Show ended, Winfrey moved to her network, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), a joint venture with Discovery Communications. OWN is available to approximately 81.9 million pay television households in the United States and largely features entertainment and lifestyle programming targeting African American audiences.
7. How Oprah Gives Back
Winfrey regularly makes charitable donations and isn’t anxious to roll her sleeves up and help others. Here are few of the big ways Oprah shared her fortune with the needy:
- Time’s Up – Given her undue commitment to empowering women, Winfrey has contributed to the Time’s Up campaign. She reportedly donated $100,000 for the cause.
- N Street Village – Pledged $1 million to N Street Village i.e. a nonprofit that provides services, housing and advocacy to homeless and low-income women.
- The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls – This academy is funded by a foundation of the same name. According to sources, she spent an estimated $140 million to keep the boarding school for underprivileged girls in grades 8 to 12 running.
- Ron Clark Academy – In 2017, Winfrey revealed plans to donate $5 million to the school.
- March for Our Lives – In February 2018, Winfrey publicized on Twitter that she would match the $500,000 donation to March For Our Lives made by George and Amal Clooney.
- Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture – In 2012, Winfrey donated $12 million to the capital campaign of the then-new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History. She previously donated $1 million in 2007 and has been on the museum’s advisory council since 2004.
- Audience Member Charity Gifts – In October 2016, precisely during her reign of daytime TV she gave a chance to her fans to enjoy the power of giving. More than 300 fans present were given a $1,000 debit card to donate to their favorite charity organizations.
- GEANCO Foundation – In the honor of David Oyelowo, she donated $100,000 to the GEANCO Foundation. Oyelowo is involved with the altruistic organization, that provides health programs and education to women and girls in Nigeria.
- Save The Children – Winfrey announced a $1.5 million grant from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation to Save the Children to reconstruct the Matau Primary School in Zimbabwe.
- Hurricane Katrina – Winfrey committed $10 million of her own money to help residents rebuild their homes.
- America’s Second Harvest – Oprah’s Angel Network donated $1 million to America’s Second Harvest (now known as Feeding America), a food bank.
Though one of the wealthiest women in America and the highest-paid entertainer in the world, Winfrey has made substantial contributions to charitable organizations and institutions such as Morehouse College, the Harold Washington Library, the United Negro College Fund, and Tennessee State University.
There are numerous awards that she has won throughout her life. One of the most respected awards that Winfrey has been given was the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” which was given to her by President Barack Obama. This award is the country’s highest honor for people who have provided the nation with national security and has shown public interest in the United States.
In The End….
One famous quote from Winfrey – “You become what you believe, not what you want or wish, but what you truly believe.” Oprah Winfrey story proved how significant education, faith, and hard work is. She is a true believer that working towards your goals will take all your effort, but in the end, it will be worth it.