Oprah Winfrey, is someone who has made it big in the world on her own terms. This is small glimpse into her life story.
With such a tragic childhood owing to poverty and neglected parenting anyone would have given up but she clawed her way to the top, thanks to her astute mind and unique personality.
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Oprah had a rough start to life. Born in rural Mississippi to an unwed teenage mother working as a maid, she didn’t have a stable childhood. The poverty was so abject that she even wore dresses made of potato sacks. She went through years of physical sexual abuse at the hands of family and friends. But she was blessed with a sharp mind and could learn to read at 3 and recite bible verses.
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She was bounced around several homes between her mother, grandmother and father. When she was finally sent to live with her father, focus came to her education and she excelled. She won an oratory contest, which secured her full scholarship to Tennessee State University where she studied communication.
She showed natural inclination towards the field of media since childhood. she played games interviewing her corncob doll and the crows on the fence.
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She started small with working in local media quickly becoming youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at the network. She moved to the talk show genre which was dominated by white men. Starting off with a lowest rated half hour morning show in a short span of time she overtook everyone and The Oprah Winfrey Show became the highest rated show in Chicago. It eventually went on to become the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and ran in national syndication for 25 years from 1986 to 2011.
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The secret behind her success, Time magazine once wrote,”Plainspoken curiosity, robust humor and, above all empathy.”She was attuned to her audience far better than her competition. She touched upon subjects others were too scared to venture near. She slowly rose through the ranks and eventually went on to create OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. She even dabbled in acting earning an Oscar nomination and was a successful movie producer creating her own Production house Harpo Films.
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As far as awards and rankings go, it is difficult to beat Oprah Winfrey. Dubbed the “Queen of All Media”, she was the richest African American of the 20th century and North America’s first black multi-billionaire, and she has been ranked the greatest black philanthropist in American history. By 2007, she was sometimes ranked as the most influential woman in the world.
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In 1998, Winfrey created the Oprah’s Angel Network, a charity that supported charitable projects and provided grants to nonprofit organizations around the world. She worked extensively towards the upliftment of the underprivileged, AIDS affected children of Africa. She has donated hundreds of millions of dolloars and continues to work towards making the world a better place.
Writer: Anmol Shekhawat
Graphics: Divija Kumar