Oprah Gail Winfrey, a famous black writer, talk show host, and actress, was born on January 29, 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi . She was born to unwed, teenage parents. Her mother Vernita Lee was eighteen and a housemaid. Her father Vernon Winfrey was twenty and in the armed forces. Winfrey was named Orpah from the Book of Ruth in the Bible, but her name was later changed to Oprah because it was easier to pronounce. As a youth, Winfrey moved to Milwaukee to live with her mother. Her mother’s lack of supervision enabled several male relatives and friends to sexually abuse Winfrey.
The abuse caused Winfrey to run away on many occasions. Winfrey then started to makeup stories to get her mother’s attention. At age fourteen, she gave birth to a premature baby, who died shortly after birth. Oprah was then given an ultimatum, either live with her father and his wife in Nashville, or be sent to a juvenile detention center. All the beds were full, so as a last resort, she was sent to Nashville to live under her father’s strict discipline. Vernon Winfrey saw to it that his daughter met a midnight curfew, and he required her to read a book and write a book report each week.
As strict as he was,” says Oprah, “he had some concerns about me making the best of my life, and would not accept anything less than what he thought was my best. ” Her father provided her with the discipline that was lacking in his daughter’s life. Oprah states, “If I hadn’t been sent to my father, I would have gone in another direction. ” He gave her a strict curfew and stressed the value of education; under his rule, Oprah turned her life around. She continues, “I could have made a good criminal. I would have used these same instincts differently”
At age nineteen, Winfrey landed her first job as a reporter at WVOL radio station in Nashville. Shortly afterward, she enrolled at Tennessee State University in Nashville. During her freshman year, Winfrey won several pageants, including “Miss Black Nashville” and “Miss Tennessee” in 1971. She was offered a job by the local CBS television station but declined the position. After graduating in 1976, she accepted a job offer from WJZ-TV, the ABC affiliate in Baltimore, Maryland. In January 1984, Winfrey moved to Chicago to host “A. M. Chicago” for WLS-TV.
Later, the show was renamed to “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Today, it is the number one talk show in the United States. In June, 1987, in its first year of eligibility “The Oprah Winfrey Show” received three Daytime Emmy Awards in the categories of Outstanding Host, Outstanding Talk/Service Program and Outstanding Direction. In June, 1988, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” received its second consecutive Daytime Emmy Award as Outstanding Talk/Service Program, and she herself received the International Radio and Television Society’s “Broadcaster of the Year” Award.
She was the youngest person and only the fifth woman ever to receive the honor in IRTS’s 25-year history. Winfrey changed her career from broadcasting to acting when she starred in Alice Walker’s film “The Color Purple”. Her performance in the film earned her an Academy Award for “best supporting actress” and nominations for a Golden Globe for “best supporting actress. ” Later, she produced Gloria Naylor’s novel “The Women of Brewster Place”, which led to a network series, Brewster Place. She owns screen rights to “Kaffir Boy”, an autobiography by South African writer Mark Mathabane.
Winfrey has partnership in three network affiliated stations and has an interest in The Eccentric, a Chicago restaurant. In 1991, motivated in part by her own memories of childhood abuse, she initiated a campaign to establish a national database of convicted child abusers, and testified before a U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of a National Child Protection Act designed to President Clinton signed the “Oprah Bill” into law in 1993, establishing the national database she had sought, which is now available to law enforcement agencies and concerned parties across the country.
Oprah Winfrey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century by Time Magazine, and in 1998 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Her influence extended to the publishing industry when she began an on-air book club. Oprah Book Club selections became instant bestsellers, and in 1999 she was presented with the National Book Foundation’s 50th anniversary gold medal for her service to books and authors. She is one of the partners in Oxygen Media, Inc. , a cable channel and interactive network presenting programming designed primarily for women.
In 2000, Oprah’s Angel Network began presenting a $100,000 “Use Your Life Award” to people who are using their lives to improve the lives of others. When Forbes magazine published its list of America’s billionaires for the year 2003, it disclosed that Oprah Winfrey was the first African-American woman to become a billionaire. Oprah. com is a premiere women’s lifestyle website, offering advice on everything from the mind, body and spirit to food, home and relationships. It provides comprehensive resources related to The Oprah Winfrey Show and exclusive interactive content based on O, The Oprah Magazine.
In addition, the website has unique original content, including Oprah’s Book Club, which offers free in-depth reading guides for each book selection, emails from Oprah, online discussion groups and Q&A sessions with literary experts. Within its first year, Oprah’s Book Club quickly became the largest book club in the world, attracting more than 420,000 members. In 2003, Oprah. com also launched Live Your Best Life, an interactive multimedia workshop based on her sold-out national speaking tour that features Oprah’s personal life stories and life lessons along with a workbook of thought-provoking exercises.
Oprah. com averages 45 million page views and three million users per month and receives approximately 12,000-15,000 emails each week. Oprah Winfrey continues to follow her dreams through her many business and media interests. She is one of the wealthiest women in the United States of America and is regularly placed high up on the Forbes magazine Rich List each year. Winfrey continues to influence and inspire people worldwide with her example of overcoming great odds to achieve great success financially, spiritually and socially.
Oprah Winfrey is my role model. She is the perfect example of someone who struggled thru many hardships to achieve success. Not only did she reach the level of success she was aiming for, but she continues to prosper in every way. Oprah never forgot where she came from or took anything for granted. Now she always gives back to her community and sets examples for many other women. Her life story inspires many people never to give up in life and to stand up for what you believe in because anything is possible!