January 29, 1954
Born In: Kosciusko, Mississippi, United States
Nationality: African American
Education: Graduated in Speech & Performing Arts from Tennessee State University
Career: Talk show host
Ranked amongst the most influential women in the world, Oprah Winfrey is the 20th century’s richest African American who is especially known for her most popular talk show - The Oprah Winfrey Show. She was born on 29 January, 1954, in Kosciusko Mississippi to Baptist parents. Besides being host of the Emmy Award winning show, Oprah is a prominent book critic, and a magazine publisher. Though her childhood was full of hardships, the determination of this leading lady helped her to fetch such recognition.
Her deprived childhood started when she took birth to poor unwed teenagers - Vernita Lee, a housemaid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coalminer who later joined Armed Forces. For the early six years of life, she lived in extreme poverty with her grandmother, and learned to recite Bible verses. At six, Oprah moved to Milwaukee ghetto in Wisconsin with her mother. There, she became a victim of repeated incestuous molestation, primarily when she was nine. In spite of her messed up childhood, she studied and got a scholarship to attend Nicolet High School of Glendale Wisconsin at 13.
Opra was very famous; however, she couldn't afford to head towards the town like her wealthier classmates. Resembling other teenagers, she rebelled and ran away from home at the end of the 1960s. At 14, she got pregnant though the baby boy died soon after birth. After the incident, her mother sent Winfrey to live with her father in Nashville, Tennessee. The encouraging and strict father made education a priority for her. Voted for the Most Popular Girl, Oprah joined as an honors student, and stood second in dramatic interpretation (nation).
After winning an oratory contest, she brought to her name a full scholarship to Tennessee State University, where she took lessons of communication. While studying, she started working at a local radio station. At 18, Oprah Winfry won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant. She was actually both, the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville's WLAC-TV, as she worked in local media. In 1976, she switched to co-anchor the six o'clock news at Baltimore’s WJZ-TV. Thereafter, she became the part of WJZ's local talk show - People Are Talking as co-host of Richard Sher.
After relocating to Chicago in 1983, she started to host WLS-TV's low-rated morning talk-show, AM Chicago, which shot up to fame within months. Being highly influenced by Winfrey, the show was extended to one-hour, and renamed as The Oprah Winfrey Show. Its popularity can be ascertained that even after getting aired for over 20 years, it is still much loved by the audiences. Along with her relation with this highest-rating talk show, she co-founded the women's cable television network - Oxygen. In 1985, Oprah played the role of Sofia, which actually matched her real life, in Steven Spielberg's epic film - The Color Purple.
The two magazines - O, The Oprah Magazine, and O at Home, are published by this great lady. For her future weight loss book, it is said that her unrevealed advance fee has broken the record of the world's highest book advance fee. In Feb’ 2006, Oprah signed a whopping $55 million contract with XM Satellite Radio to start a new channel (Oprah & Friends). Late in 2006, Harpo production and ABC together, disclosed plans of bringing two new reality TV shows - Oprah Winfry's The Big Give, and Your Money or Your Life.
On January 15, 2008, Winfrey and Discovery Communications declared campaign to change the existing Discovery Health Channel into a new channel called OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network). It has been planned to make its debut in 2009, and would be made available in over 70 million homes. At the age of 32, she became a millionaire when her show topped the charts. In 2000, with her net worth of $800 million, she was acclaimed to be the richest African American of the 20th century. TV Guide reported in July, 2007, that Oprah is the highest paid TV entertainer in the U.S.
Since 1986, Winfrey, and her partner Stedman Graham, are living together. She lives on her 42 acre bungalow ‘The Promised Land’ in Montecito, California. Apart from California, she has close associations with Chicago, Maui, and Telluride, due to her property and work. Her skills, quality of work and life, brought her the title of ‘the World’s Most Powerful Woman’ by CNN and Time.com. Like any other successful person, Oprah got into controversies too, but her communication skills and social genre have kept this philanthropist on the world’s hit-list.
Oprah Winfrey Timeline
1954 - Born on 29 January at Kosciusko Mississippi, USA
1960 - Her mother took her toMilwaukee ghetto where she got raped constantly
1967 - Left home and became pregnant, delivered a child who died soon.
1968 - Started living with her fatherand became an honors student (East Nashville High School)
1970 - Won a scholarship to Tennessee State Universityand from there, shegraduated in communication while worked at the WVOL local radio station.
1971 - Won Miss Black Tennessee and Miss Fire Prevention.
1973 - Graduated in Speech and Performing Artsfrom Tennessee State University. Also, she became the first black TV news anchor and reporter.
1976 - Moved to host the 6 o’clock news (WJZ-TV) to Baltimore.
1978 - Became the show host of ‘People Are Talking’.
1983 - Relocated in Chicago to host the talk show A.M. Chicago
1984 - Show became big success and was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show
1985 - Starred as Sofia in Steven Spielberg’s movie 'The Color Purple'
1986 - Formed her television production company - Harpo Productions.
1987 - Won her first Emmy for best talk show host and best show.
1988 - Called ‘Broadcaster of the Year’ by the International Television and Radio Society
1989 - Starred as Mattie Michael in the movie, The Women of Brewster Place
1991 - Initiated the National Child Protection Act.
1992 - Won Best Talk Show Host at the Daytime Emmy Awards
1993 - Hosted an interview with Michael Jackson which reached an audience of one hundred million.
1995 - Became the first black woman on Forbes list of 400 richest Americans.
1996 - Became co-author of the book A Journal of Daily Renewal
1998 - Formed Oxygen Media and starred in the movie, Beloved
2002 - Fortune called O, the Oprah Magazine the most successful start-up ever in the industry
2004 - Hosted The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Concert. Declared as the world’s only black billionaire
2005 - Became the first black listed amongst the top 50 most generous philanthropists of America. Called the greatest woman in American history in a public poll
2006 - Signed 3-year contract with XM Satellite Radio to start a new radio channel based in Chicago