“Hi, I’m Oprah Winfrey. I’m the new host of A.M. Chicago…. Miss Negro on the air.” -Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954. She was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, a small farming community. Her birth name was Orpah but her family soon changed it to Oprah. The reason they did this is because most could not pronounce her name correctly.
Oprah’s parents were never married and seperated after her birth. At a very young age Oprah lived with her grandmother. Oprah’s grandmother made it a priority that she advanced in her education. At the age of three, she had already learned how to read and write. Oprah’s local neighborhood started calling her “The Little Speaker.” She also started school many grades ahead of kids her age. Oprah had also learned about the Lord while she was young. She would even recite poems and verses out of the Bible during mass.
At the age of six, she lived with her mother again. Her mother was always working and Oprah felt like she wasn’t paying enough attention to her. As a result, Oprah started to misbehave and her mother didn’t want to deal with it any longer. She sent Oprah to go live with her father. Her father was very strict and did not put up with much. Not very long after she moved, she received news that her mother was pregnant. Her mother insisted that Oprah returned to live with her. When Oprah was living with her mom the only friends she had were farm animals. In her free time she wrote skits including them. When Oprah was nine, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend and his close friends. She never told anyone because she couldn’t trust anybody and she thought she would get in trouble. At the age of thirteen, she ran away from her home. At fourteen, Oprah became pregnant with a baby boy. After the birth, the baby got very sick and died. Her mom then sent her to live with her father.
Her father’s main priority was education. As a teenager, Oprah attended Nashville East High School. She didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do with her life, but she knew she wanted to be involved with public speaking or drama. Oprah was elected school president. She was very excited about it. Because of the public speaking classes, she was able to meet President Richard Nixon. During her senior year, she was asked if she wanted a job on the radio. After thinking about it for awhile, she decided to take it. In high school Oprah also participated in a public speaking contest. The grand prize was a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. She was amazed when she won.
For college, Oprah attended Tennessee State University. She had decided to major in Speech Communications. Oprah was offered a job as co-anchor on a CBS television station but quickly refused. Her speech professor decided to talk to her and persuaded her into taking the job. After the talk, she decided to take the job. Once she had worked the job for a while, she decided she wanted a job out of state. She received an offer in Baltimore, Maryland. Oprah had to choose between the job and her college graduation. She decided to take the job. While Oprah was working she was not a very good reporter. She later was fired. Oprah hosted her first television talk show in Baltimore called “People are Talking.” This lead to taking a job in Chicago as a talk show host called “AM Chicago” The name was changed to The Oprah Winfrey Show a year later.
The Oprah Winfrey Show officially aired in 1986. When the show first aired, it was placed on one hundred twenty different channels and had an audience of ten million people. By the end of her first season , she made one hundred five million dollars. She was able to keep thirty million for herself. Later, Oprah bought the program from ABC. She eventually put the show under the under the control of her new production company called Harpo Productions. She was able to make more money for herself by doing this. In 1994, talk shows were becoming ruthless and deceitful. Oprah did not want her show to go that way. In the beginning her ratings fell but she gained respect from her viewers. In the end she experienced a huge rise in popularity.
During the last season of her talk show, Oprah shared a family secret that made ratings soar. The secret was that Oprah had a half sister named Patricia. Oprah’s mother had given birth to the baby girl in 1963, while Oprah was living with her father. Her mother put the child up for adoption. She did this because she didn’t believe that she could get off public assistance with another child. Patricia lived in a series of foster homes until the age of seven. Patricia tried to receive connection with her birth mother through the adoption agency when she was an adult. Sadly her mother did not feel the same way. Patricia started doing research and was able to meet a niece of Oprah’s. They had DNA tests and found out they were related.
In 1986 Oprah started Harpo Incorporated, which was Oprah spelled backwards. This was a production company that produced the topics Oprah discussed on television. In 2015, she shut down Harpo Incorporated in order to make The Oprah Winfrey Network stronger. In 2009, Oprah announced that she would totally end The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2011 Oprah announced that she would start The Oprah Winfrey Network. The network had a rocky start. The network finally made headlines when they aired an interview between Oprah and Lance Armstrong, an American cyclist. During the interview, Lance admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. Oprah earned millions of dollars from the interview.
The first time Oprah campaigned for a political candidate was in December of 2007. Oprah started campaigning for Barack Obama. She attracted the largest crowds during the primary season. Oprah joined Obama for rallies in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The biggest rally was held in the University of South Carolina’s football stadium where Oprah gave an outstanding motivational speech.
Oprah expanded her media empire by introducing Oxygen Media in 1999. Oprah is the co-founder of this company. The company helps women produce internet and cable programs when aren’t very wealthy. When she became co-founder it put her at the top of the media industry. Oprah’s Book Club is known for giving chances to a lot of unknown authors. This majorly helped the publishing community. Oprah’s Book Club helped unknown authors get to the top of the best seller list and it made pleasure reading well known.
A main reason people love her so much is because Oprah is a dedicated activist for children’s rights. President Clinton signed a bill that Oprah proposed. The bill created a nation-wide database of convicted child abusers. She also founded the “Family to Better Lives Foundation: which helps families get on the right track.
Oprah has received a variety of awards like the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Golden Globes’ Cecil B. Demille Award. She has been named “ the richest African- American of the 20th century”-Forbes magazine, “ the most influential woman of her generation”-Life magazine, and “ the greatest Black philanthropist in American history”-Business Week. She is also an author. She has written movies and books. They are The Color Purple, The Deep End of the Ocean, Brewster Place, and Kaffir Boy.
Oprah also became well-known for her extraordinary weight loss. She lost ninety pounds and now weighs one hundred fifty pounds. She couldn’t have done it without her personal chef, Rosie Daley, and her personal trainer, Bob Greene. Another interesting fact about Oprah is that she has never been married. She has been in a relationship since the middle 1980s with a man name Stedman Graham. They have been happily engaged since 1992 and have not yet married. They live together in Chicago but they also have houses in Montecito, California; Polling Prairie, Indiana; and Telluride, Colorado.
Oprah started out with a very rough beginning as a child. She used the knowledge from when she was young to get to where she is today. Some people say Oprah is the most well known person in show business. Oprah has done so many great things for people and she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon” -Oprah Winfrey.
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