Black Women Who Slayed History: Oprah Winfrey
This Black History Month, we’re highlighting the black woman who helped make our world what it is today. Today, we honor TV talk show host, producer, actress, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.
Born in the small town of Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954, Oprah started off with very humble beginnings. Winfrey lived in Mississippi with her mother during her early life. Sexual abuse from many of her relatives and friends of her mothers is what caused her to move to Nashville, Tennessee to live with her father when she became a teenager.
Moving in with her father is what she says changed her life, the structure he gave her got her interested in reading and media. Her grades in school improved and she was awarded a scholarship to Tennessee State University in 1971. Tennessee State University is where Winfrey got her first start in radio and television broadcasting.
After college Oprah decided to move to Baltimore, Maryland where she started hosting the Television show, People Are Talking. She knew after doing the first show that this was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. People Are Talking last on air for 8 years.
Following the run of People Are Talking, Oprah was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her very own morning talk show, A.M. Chicago. After a few months people had fallen in love with her and ratings for the show were doing extremely well.
Following A.M. Chicago, Winfrey launched the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986, following its first year the show had an audience of 10 million people and grossed $125 million, $30 million of which Winfrey received. In the years after Oprah gained ownership of the program from ABC and started HARPO Productions, which led to even more success and money.
The Oprah Winfrey Show helped to launch Oprah’s career but since then she has done way more than just that for herself and for others.
She has starred in movies like; The Color Purple, Selma, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Beloved and more. Winfrey has also produced broadway shows and films like, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Precious, The Great Debaters, and many others.
Oprah has also launched the careers of many authors, television talk show host singers, actors and more. If Oprah gives her stamp of approval it means something. She helped to co-found Oxygen Media, focusing on women’s entertainment in 1999, created her own magazine; O: The Oprah Magazine in 2000 and launched her very own network, OWN, with the help of Discovery Communications in 2011.
In addition to Oprah’s accomplishments as a career woman, she has donated a ton of money to various charities, started her own foundation and touched and changed the lives of people all around the world. She started a school for girls in South Africa that helps take care of all the needs of young girls growing up in harsh conditions and also raised over $51,000,000 for her Angel Network.
Oprah has helped to publicize charities like funding for hurricane Katrina victims, UNICEF and many more. She campaigned alongside president Barack Obama in favor of him and donated a large amounts of money to help him gain political success. She promotes equal treatment and opportunity for women and has definitely helped to be an example for young women growing up wanting to be just like her.
Forbes magazine named her the richest African American of the 20th Century and she was the world’s only Black billionaire for three years in a row. She has received numerous like Daytime Emmy Awards, People’s Choice Awards, NAACP Image Awards, and a Tony Award just to name a few.
Upcoming projects for Oprah include television and film projects like, Terms of Endearment, Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Star, and A Wrinkle In Time. She also recently interviewed First Lady Michelle Obama for her Farewell to the White House.
Oprah Winfrey is the definition of black girl magic, she is a voice for so many and has impacted and changed the lives of many.