1) Oprah Winfrey has reached a completely new level of success. The 59-year-old African-American woman is the only person to have been listed in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people nine times. She is also the first African American woman to appear on Forbes billionaire list. She has also been considered one of the most influential people in the world.
2) Her show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, also simply known as Oprah, won the Daytime Emmy Awards 47 times. Oprah’s ultra-successful show would have most likely won more, but in 2000, Oprah decided to remove her show from being considered for any future Emmys.
3) Oprah had a very difficult childhood. As a young girl, she lived with her grandmother for some time, and they were so poor that Oprah would wear potato sack dresses. Her dolls were made from cornhusks. Her first pair of shoes graced her feet on her sixth birthday.
4) She was a gifted child. Her grandmother and father encouraged her education. Her grandmother taught her to read early on, and by the age of 2 ½, Oprah could read. In school, she was always put ahead of her class, and advanced to third grade once she had completed first grade.
5) Her globally famous television show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, has successfully aired from 1986 to 2011. This television show changed the world of talk shows. Her show was an immediate success. She replaced Phil Donahue, whose show was the most watched daytime talk shows in America.
6) People loved Oprah immediately. Her way of interacting with her guests became labeled as, ‘Oprahfication’, a word that has now been added to the dictionary as well. It is defined as a means of discussing ones emotional problems through public disclosure. Oprah would cry with her guests on live TV as they shared their problems. According to Time magazine, “She makes people care because she cares.”
7) Oprah’s difficulties did not end with her childhood. She was sexually abused from age 9 to 13. At which point she ran away, and began to live a promiscuous life. She became a teenage mother at the mere age of 14, but motherhood was short lived. Her son died only two weeks later due to complications.
8) After a tumultuous beginning, Oprah began to get back on her feet. She had great success in school, and was an honor student in high school. She received a full scholarship to attend Tennessee State University, where she graduated with a degree in Speech and Performing Arts.
9) Oprah’s philanthropy work knows no boundaries. She has provided more than 400 students with scholarships. She is known for spending luxurious amounts of money on vacation trips that she enjoys with staff, friends and family. Oprah’s Angel Network raised US$ 80 million for national and international non-profit organizations. During natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Oprah donated US$ 10 million to help survivors get back on their feet. She has worked hard with the poor children of South Africa, donating US$ 40 million to help build schools for girls. As of 2012, she has donated approximately US$ 400 million to educational charities.
10) She was originally named Orpah Gail Winfrey by her biological aunt, a word found in the Bible, which was also recorded on her birth certificate. Due to misspellings and mispronunciations, she decided to change her name to Oprah, the household name we all know of today.
11) Oprah has had a series of relationships throughout her life, but the one that did not get away is the lucky man, Stedman Graham. They have been in a relationship since 1986, and remain together to this day. In 1992, they planned a possible wedding, but did not go through with it.
12) Oprah is a multitalented individual who can be successful at anything she puts her mind to. In 1985, she starred in the infamous movie, The Color Purple. Her talent was appreciated by a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has since starred in other films and has been the voice for many characters of animated films.
13) She has been criticized for her lavish expenditures. She owns multiple homes located all over North and South America and has a closet the size of an average apartment. However, her favorite car is the Volkswagen Beetle.
14) Oprah’s show was not her only success. In 2000, she launched the much-awaited monthly magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine. In 2009, she created her own network, The Oprah Winfrey Network. During the days of her talk show, she also launched Oprah’s Book Club, which since 1996 has listed 65 books.
15) Oprah has made history for women and black people alike. For three years, 2004-2006, Forbes magazine listed Oprah Winfrey as the world’s only black billionaire. She is also the first black woman billion in the world. Oprah is also now the richest woman entrepreneur in America, moving Meg Whitman, previous CEO of eBay down the list.
16) Many question why Oprah did not try to become a mother again. Her loving attitude and selfless devotion would have made her a wonderful mother. When asked, Oprah stated that she would never want to be a mother because of her own neglected childhood. Oprah’s mother was not the ideal mother, and Oprah was the one who had to suffer for her mistakes.
17) Oprah is a great advocate of self-help and spirituality. She has co-authored five books, which have all been successful, through the support of her book club. Her books range from cookbooks, to spiritual self-help books to books about how to lose weight. In 2005, Oprah announced the upcoming launch of a new weight loss book. She received a book advance fee, which has been said to be the world’s highest, surpassing even Bill Clinton’s book advance fee for his autobiography.
18) Oprah’s best friend is Gayle King. The two have been friends since 1976. Gayle is currently the editor of Oprah’s magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine. In 2008, Oprah bought her best friend a penthouse located in New York City worth US$ 7.1 million. There have been rumors regarding the two women’s friendship, which Oprah has waved off, and promised to inform the public of any such relationship down the road.
19) Oprah has always been proud of her figure. She revolutionized the television world with her confessions about her weight, which made it easier for other overweight women such as Rosie O’Donnell, to be accepted on screen. Oprah’s weight reached a maximum of 238 lbs., after which she lost 90 lbs., reaching her ideal weight of 150 lbs.
20) Oprah has always been an entertainer. Even when she was a poverty-stricken young girl, she found ways to be on stage. Her grandmother said that she would interview her cornhusk doll amidst the crows that would hang around their house. Oprah has a natural talent of finding beauty even in adversity.