Oprah Winfrey Biography
She is a hostess, actress, writer and producer. Best known for her work as hostess of her own television show: The Oprah Winfrey Show. The Oprah show was on the air for twenty-five seasons from 1986 to 2001.
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, a rural town in Mississippi. Her mother was only 18 at the time she gave birth. The conception was the result of an adventure of one night with a two years older man. She spent the first six years of her life on her maternal grandmother’s farm in Mississippi. Then she moved with her mother to a poor neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
At the age of 9, she was raped by one of her cousins. The cousin started the series of sexual abuse that Winfrey suffered for the next five years perpetrated by three other men who were “friends” of the family.
In her adolescence, her rebellion (stealing and ignoring the law) was about to take her to a reformatory. She was not sent to a detention center because she moved in with her father, a Nashville barber. Under the care of her father, she went from delinquent to honor roll member, won Miss Black America and was chosen as the most popular student at Nashville High School. In addition, she obtained an oratory scholarship for the Tennessee State University in 1971.
In 1973, when she was 19, she became the first African-American woman to appear on a Nashville newscast because she landed a job as a broadcaster for a local television network.
In 1976 she moved to Baltimore, Maryland and worked as a television presenter for the People Are Talking program. Being part of that program helped her to realize that that was not the ideal line of work for her because she could not help but cry when she had to tell sad news.
In Illinois, seven years later, she visualized where she should go with her career. She went from working in the AM Chicago program to conducting her own show. The Oprah Winfrey Show.
In the early 80s she met Stedman Graham, with whom he has a relationship until now.
In September 1985, The Oprah Winfrey Show began airing nationally. The program was presented on 120 channels and had an audience of 10 million people. By the end of the first year, she managed to defeat The Phil Donahue Show (the first television show with interviews) and managed to raise one hundred twenty-five million, thirty of which constituted Winfrey’s salary.
The same year, she got a role in the movie “The Purple Color” directed by Steven Spielberg and was nominated to an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category. This was her first work as an actress but not the last one. One of her other roles is the one she played in the 1998 film “Beloved” based on the Pulitzer winning novel written by Toni Morrison.
Soon after, she obtained the full control of the program by including it under the command of the production company she created, that is, Harpo Productions. This improvement made the program audience increase.
In 1994 most of the interview programs intended to explore vulgar and sensationalist subjects. However, Oprah Winfrey decided not to follow the example of her competition. Although this decision had a negative effect on their audience level. Nevertheless, in the long-term viewers the effect was different because they learned to appreciate the dignity with which Oprah conducted the show.
In 2009, it was announced that Oprah Winfrey would leave her program once her contract with ABC ended (in 2011). After leaving the program, Oprah began working on her own television network. Oprah Winfrey Network.
During the last season of her show, Winfrey revealed that she had discovered the existence of her half-sister, Patricia. Winfrey explained that when she was nine years old, her mother became pregnant again but because she felt she could not support two girls financially, she was given up for adoption.
In 2003, she became the first African-American woman to appear in the list of billionaires published by Forbes magazine.
She is actively involved with several charitable organizations including: Oprah’s Angel Network, which supports and promotes the creation of other charitable organizations and has managed to raise more than fifty-one million for this purpose. A Better Chance, is other organization which provides scholarships for African-American students and the third organization she has connections with is Family for Better Lives. This is an organization that brings education and medicine to places where it is needed, such as Uttarakhand (in north-east India) and Yonibana (West Africa).
In November of 2013, she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award given to her by President Barack Obama and considered the highest honor a civilian can have in the United States.