Oprah Winfrey, the richest African American of 20th century, was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi in 1958, on 29th of January. She is best known as the most successful American Television producer, host and philanthropist and is among the most influential women in the world. She did not have a promising childhood and had to face a variety of hardships in her teenage life. After her parents’ separation, she was sent to her grandparents, to live in extreme poverty. Some say that she used to wear dresses made of potato sack. She reunited with her mother at the age of 6 who moved with her to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her mother spent her all day out working as a maid at households and had no time for little Winfrey. At the age of nine, as she says, she was raped by her cousin, her uncle and a family friend. Having had enough, she ran away from her home at the age of 13 and became mother at 14. After her son’s death in infancy, she went back to live with her barber father in Tennessee. This was the first time, as she remembers she took her studies seriously and managed to become an honors student. Her dedication soon paid off and she became the most popular student at East Nashville High School and won several awards in open speech competition. Later, she studied communication from Tennessee State University.
At the age of 19, her life took a turn for better when she got a job at a local Radio Station as a co-anchor for the local evening news. In 1984, she started to host ‘AM Chicago’, an early morning talk show, which soon became the most watched show in America. Later, it was renamed as ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. The syndicated talk show became the most popular show in the Television history with over 30 million American viewers and spanned across 144 countries worldwide. She has also proved herself as the most influential spiritual leader through ‘Change Your Life TV’ with 22 million female viewers.
Besides being a T.V host and producer, she is the Co-founder of Oxygen Media and founder of Oprah Magazine. In 1998, she started a charity named ‘Oprah’s Angel Network’ for which she carries all administrative costs. Oprah’s Angel Network donated $10 million after Hurricane Katrina and collected $11 million given by her viewers on her request. She is regarded as the 32nd most philanthropist person in the world. In 2005, ‘Business Week’ enlisted her name among 50 most generous philanthropists for her contribution which was equivalent to $303 million dollars. According to Forbes of 2009, her net worth is $2.7 billion dollar.
Award and recognition:
At the 2002 Emmy Award, she was the recipient of first Bob Hope Humanitarian Award for her contribution to Television and Films.
My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment. Oprah Winfrey
As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you – the first time around.
Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine
Written by: Mousumi Kumar Saha