It is quite difficult to think of philanthropy and ground breaking personalities without thinking of media mogul and icon Oprah Winfrey. From her humble beginnings in the South her meteoric rise to fame is a real American story that is an inspiration to all. It is hard to define Oprah to just one title; Host, actress, producer, philanthropist—Oprah. Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi to her mother Vernita and father Vernon, a barber and local businessman. Winfrey’s adolescence was marred by being sexually abused by several male relatives and friends of her mother. She endured these hardships until she was 14 when she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to live with her father. However her arrival in Nashville did not end her problems as she dealt with drugs and rebellious behavior towards adults. Eventually she became pregnant but lost the baby after giving birth to it premature. Her behavior as a child and teen conflicted with her father’s high standards and strict rules and she eventually settled in earning herself a University Scholarship.
Oprah studied at the Tennessee State University receiving a BA in Speech and Performing Arts. At her father’s insistence, Oprah inspired to achieve a great deal from life. She became involved in many groups and pursued her interests in both media and journalism at TSU graduating as an honors student. Oprah’s storied career as a titan of media started as a news anchor and reporter for a television station in Nashville. She was the first African American woman TV news anchor to work in Nashville on the WTVF station at just 19 years of age. Soon after she was moved to an early morning talk show entitles “People are Talking” at a small station in Baltimore where she was more free to express her personality and share her own opinions talking about topics that moved her personally. Her stay in Baltimore was a wonderful springboard for what came next, moving to Chicago in 1985 to host an early morning talk show called “AM Chicago.” The program went on to become the monster syndicated hit “The Oprah Winfrey Show” after a year.
“The Oprah Winfrey Show” went on to become one of the most wildly successful and highest ranked television talk show programs in television history. The iconic program ran for 25 years and ended in 2011 in conjunction with Oprah launching the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Along her journey she also managed to nab a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” establishing herself as a more than credible actress. Oprah’s philanthropy has made her a world renowned support of causes for children and donations to disaster causes. Oprah’s first big hit in 2013 was landing an interview with the now disgraced Lance Armstrong that lied about doping for his record 7 Tour De France wins. For over twenty years, Oprah has been engaged to Chicago public relations executive Stedman Graham. Winfrey spends her time in Chicago and also has homes in Montecito, California, Indiana and Telluride, Colorado.