Oprah Winfrey


Oprah Winfrey is first of all known and recognized as the host of the most watched daytime show on television, The Oprah Winfrey Show. But her contributions can be felt beyond the world of television, as she is also a talented actress, owner of a movie production company, magazine founder and editorial director, and committed philanthropist. The fact that Oprah Winfrey is also black and a woman makes her rags to riches story an even more remarkable version of the ‘American Dream’.

Personal Life
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born in 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Her unmarried parents separated soon after she was born, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother. By the time she was six, Winfrey had moved to Milwaukee to live with her mother. During this time, she was sexually abused by a teenage cousin and then by other male relatives and friends. It was and still is a traumatic experience for her "I was, and am, severely damaged by the experience [of abuse]. All the years that I convinced myself I was healed, I wasn\'t. I still carried the shame, and I unconsciously blamed myself for those men\'s acts."


Winfrey had a difficult relationship with her mother, so she sent Oprah to live with her father in Nashville at age 14. In one of the interviews, she admitted that he was “a very strict father, but I love him for it today. He was a big influence in my life. As strict as he was, he had some concerns about me making the best of my life, and would not accept anything less than what he thought was my best.”


Encouraged by her father, Oprah joined her school\'s drama club and became a prize-winning orator, winning a college scholarship after delivering a speech. She was the first black woman to win Nashville\'s Miss Fire Prevention title. In 1971 she was named Miss Black Tennessee. In 1976 she graduated with a degree in speech communications and theater from Tennessee State University.


While in college, Winfrey already knew what she wanted-a career in broadcasting. At the age of 19 she became the coanchor of the evening news. Soon after that, she left Tennessee State and headed to Baltimore to become a reporter and coanchor of ABC affiliate WJZ-TV.


Around 1977 she became a cohost on the Baltimore Is Talking show, and after seven years in Baltimore, in 1984 she became anchor of the ailing A.M. Chicago, a morning talk show that consistently placed last in the ratings. Winfrey changed the focus of the show to current and controversial topics and the effect was immediate: 3 months later the show was ranked as one of the best programs. In 1985 it was renamed to the Oprah Winfrey Show. Just a year after the show was renamed, it made its national debut, and within five months it was rated the third most popular show in syndication.


The Oprah Winfrey Show
It was a very different kind of talk show, especially when it first started. It was Oprah’s personal style as an interviewer and a sympathetic listener that gave the show its unique appeal. She wanted her show not just to attract large audiences but to help individual viewers. On Oprah Winfrey both ordinary people and guest celebrities could reveal their inner truths. Viewers felt that Oprah was an ordinary person asking celebrities and others the kind of funny, personal questions any ordinary person would ask.


One of the key features of Oprah Winfrey\'s television persona is that her own private life has been an essential element of her talk-show. Her poor black background and her past and current problems with child abuse, men, and weight have made Oprah an exposed public personality on television and have allowed her loyal audience to feel that they "know" her quite well, and she’s just an ordinary person. This familiarity is part of the power of Oprah Winfrey.


"I am guided by the vision of what I believe this show can be. Originally our goal was to uplift, enlighten, encourage and entertain through the medium of television. Now, our mission statement for \'The Oprah Winfrey Show\' is to use television to transform people\'s lives, to make viewers see themselves differently and to