#RespectYourElders: Oprah, 66, is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, and philanthropist. She is one of the richest and most influential women in the United States.
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, in the winter of 1954. Her parents separated soon after she was born. As a young child, she lived with her maternal grandmother on a farm. As she got older, Oprah bounced between her mom and dad’s homes in Wisconsin and Tennessee. Though many aspects of her childhood were difficult, Oprah learned to read at a very young age and practiced “playacting” in front of farm animals while she lived with her grandmother.
That “playacting” turned into recognition for her ability to captivate audiences. She won an oratory contest, which secured her a full-ride scholarship to Tennessee State University. She began reporting and soon became a co-anchor in Nashville at the young age of 19. She was both the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. She went on to anchor in Baltimore, but her passion for storytelling meant the objectivity of journalism was stifling. Oprah became a talk-show host for the morning program “People Are Talking” with Richard Sher.
Oprah then moved to Chicago to host the low-rated morning talk show, “AM Chicago.”
“My first day in Chicago, September 4, 1983. I set foot in this city, and just walking down the street, it was like roots, like the motherland. I knew I belonged here,” Oprah said in “Profiles of a Female Genius.”
Within months, “AM Chicago’s” name changed to “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and a star had been born. The field was dominated by white men, but Oprah took it by storm, with her show quickly becoming the number-one daytime talk show in America. Her empathy, candidness, enthusiasm and quick-witted humor made her America’s favorite talk show host. Oprah’s show grossed $125 million in its first year, with Winfrey receiving $30 million. According to IMDB, her talk show has received a total of 105 award nominations and won 71.
Through the 80s, Oprah got involved in film, television and even created her own television company, Harpo Productions Inc. She then launched “O, the Oprah Magazine,” which marketed expert advice, style ideas, health tips and more to women. These endeavors and her talk show led her to become the first black female billionaire in 2004.
Oprah is quite generous with her fortune. She has donated over $400 million with a particular interest in educational programs. She opened her own school in 2007, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, which is in South Africa. Oprah also has three foundations: The Angel Network, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation.
Oprah recently hosted a two-night, “Where Do We Go From Here?” special on the death of George Floyd and racism in America. The program hosted notable names including former gubernatorial and potential vice presidential candidate Stacey Abrams, “How to be an Anti-Racist” author Ibram Kendi, Pulitzer prize-winning founder of the New York Times’ “1619 Project” Nikole Hannah-Jones and many more.