Here’s the first woman in my self made men (and women!) series.  Oprah. Love her or hate her, there’s no denying her power.  She was recently named number one on Forbes Top 100 Celebrities, earning a whopping 275 million in 2008.  From a six year old girl wearing a potato sack dress to a millionaire at age 32, she has an amazing story to tell.

Oprah Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954 to two unmarried teenagers.  She was raised by her grandmother until age six.  Her grandmother was a huge influence on her life and was the source of great encouragement.  At age six she went to live with her mother in Milwaukee.  Her Uncle, cousin, and a family friend began molesting her at age 9.  At age 13, tired of the abuse, she ran away from home.  At age 14 she gave birth to a son, but he died as an infant.  Her mother then sent her to live with her father, Vernon Winfrey, in Nashville.

Her father was strict and set education as the priority.  Oprah was voted Most Popular Girl in her high school and won a scholarship to Tennessee State University in an oratory contest.  At age 17 she won Miss Black Tennessee Beauty Pageant and gained the attention of a local new station, WVOL.  They hire her to do a part time news show and she worked there during her senior year in high school and for two years during college, where she majored in communications.

In 1983 Oprah moved to Chicago to host AM Chicago Within months the show went from last in the ratings to the highest ranked talk show in Chicago. It was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show and began national broadcasting on September 8, 1986.   In 1993 she interviewed Michael Jackson.  The interview became the fourth most watched event in American television history and the most watched interview ever.[1] In the mid 1990’s she changed the feel of the show from a tabloid type talk show to a self improvement theme.  Her show now airs in 140 countries.

Most people would be pretty satisfied with coming from nothing to millions and having one of the top rated shows on TV.   But not Oprah. She has been in several films such as The Color Purple, Beloved, Charlotte’s Web and the Bee Movie.   She also has her own cable network, Oxygen, where she created super stars such as Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray.  She has two magazines; O and O at home, and a radio show on XM Satellite Radio called Oprah and Friends.  A book that is chosen by Oprah’s Book Club often means a million or more book sales for author.  She was also the therapist on the sitcom Ellen where Ellen Degeneres came out of the closet.

Oprah personally donates more than any other celebrity in show business.[2]  In 1998 Oprah started the Angel Network which has raised $51 million for under privileged people.  She covers all administration costs.  100% of donations go to helping others.   After hurricane Katrina she asked her viewers to donate to the cause and raised $11 million.  She also contributed $10 million of her own money.  Oprah also spent $40 million to open the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

Forbes’ international rich list has listed Winfrey as the world’s only black billionaire in 2004, 2005, and 2006 and as the first black woman billionaire in world history.  In December 2007 a poll of American women found her to be the most admired woman in the world.  She was called the world’s most powerful woman by both CNN and Time. She is so powerful she cost the cattle industry an estimated $12 million with one comment.  April 16th 1996 she aired a show about mad cow disease where she said “It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger!”.  Cattlemen in Texas sued her for defamation of perishable foods.  The trial lasted two months and Oprah was not found liable.

Beginning on an unspecified date the Discovery Health Channel will become The Oprah Winfrey Network and will debut in 70 million homes.  Just one more step in world domination for Oprah.

Other Self Made Men in the series:
Warren Buffett
Henry Ford
Ingvar Kamprad
Sam Walton
Thomas Edison
Steve Jobs

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post consider subscribing!

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.