Facts About Oprah Winfrey, the Self-Made Woman Billionaire
When seeking the American Dream, everyone follows a different path down the road to success. Sometimes, we run into obstacles that can derail us. But the strong people find ways to overcome. Oprah Winfrey, a self-made woman billionaire and the first successful Black entrepreneur to own a television network, had many obstacles to overcome to reach her current status. Through innovation and determination, she succeeded in the entertainment industry and that has made her famous today.
Oprah's Bumpy Road
Born Oprah Gail Winfrey in 1954 on a farm in Mississippi, Oprah experienced hardships early in her life. At the age of 6, she was sexually abused and neglected when living with her mother in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Unlike so many other child abuse stories that end terribly, Oprah was able to leave the neglect behind and stay with her father, where she learned that life held so much more than the abuse she experienced.
Through disciplined teachings and renewed hope, Oprah lifted herself from the past and looked toward the future. She became an honor student and an outspoken orator as she earned a scholarship to Tennessee State University. While studying drama and speech, Oprah was offered her first on-air job in the news industry becoming the first female Black co-anchor for a CBS news affiliate in Nashville.
This was a turning event for Oprah at the age of 19. She dropped out of college during her senior year and continued to pursue on-air news coverage by becoming a television nightly news co-anchor in Baltimore.
Oprah's Continued Television Career
While Oprah excelled as a news anchor, her empathy towards the people in the news stories began to affect her emotionally to the point where she could not continue. It was at this point that she became a co-host for a talk show called "People Are Talking." Oprah's intelligence and empathy to connect with the guests made her an instant success.
She was then offered a job in Chicago to become an anchor for the morning talk show, "AM Chicago." Again, Oprah's unique style of communicating with her audience in an intelligent and understandable manner propelled the show in the ratings. But it was her acting role in the critically acclaimed movie "The Color Purple" made her nationally known. In 1986, she was given her own talk show called, "The Oprah Winfrey Show," as it became the number 1 talk show in the nation and the third highest rated show with over 10 million television viewers.
Oprah Rides Her Fame With Great Business Flair
Now she was an entrepreneur. But Oprah's success with talk show syndication did not slow her down. She became the first Black business woman to own a television network called "OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network." She also became a chairwoman of Harpo Productions Inc, which took over ownership of the Oprah Winfrey Show. It was at this historic milestone that she became the first woman and the first African American to own and produce her own talk show and entertainment production company.
Through Harpo Productions, Oprah produces well-known shows such as "Dr. Phil" and "The Rachel Ray Show." She also teamed up with Hearst Magazine to produce "O, The Oprah Magazine," which is a leading women's publication. Oprah also has co-founded Oxygen Media and the cable network, "Oxygen."
Oprah has received numerous awards during her active career in the entertainment industry. Such awards and recognition that she has earned include the following:
- George Foster Peabody Awards Individual Achievement Award (1995)
- National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences: Lifetime Achievement Award (1998) and Crystal Pillar Award (2011)
- United Nations Association of the United States of America: Global Humanitarian Action Award (2004)
- National Civil Rights Museum's National Freedom Award (2005)
- The Women's Conference of California Minerva Award (2007)
- Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in World Lists (2004 through 2011)
Oprah's Continued Success
Unlike other actors and stars who hit their big breaks but fizzle out due to their own mismanagement or the emotional strain of success taking a toll on their lives, Oprah Winfrey has excelled in the entertainment industry by being true to herself and to an audience that loves and admires her. With a mind for business and a humanitarian heart, Oprah Winfrey will continue to make a large impact within the entertainment and media industry.
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