Oprah Winfrey is the host of the widely popular show “The Oprah Show” and the Chairwoman and CEO of HARPO Productions as well as The Oprah Winfrey Network. She was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi to a single mother and grew up in very poor conditions. Despite the numerous hardships and setbacks in her early years, Oprah eventually moved to Tennessee to live with her father where she developed into an avid learner and honor student. She was first exposed to the media when she received an on-air job at a radio station in Nashville, which she kept until college. Oprah left college to join a local television station as a reporter and anchor. She moved to Baltimore in 1976 to co-anchor WJZ-TV News and was given the chance to host her first talk-show. It was the success of this first talk-show that illuminated the path to her success on television.
In 1984 Oprah moved to Chicago to take over a low-rated show, “AM Chicago,” which quickly turned around and became the best show in town. The show was renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1985, and soon spanned all US networks, winning consecutive Emmy Awards each year. Oprah was named “Broadcaster of the Year” in 1988, becoming the youngest person to ever receive the award. Her show became the number one talk-show in America and went on to become one of the longest-running talk shows after 25 years.
Oprah’s passion for films and acting, having appears in numerous films herself, also prompted her to establish her own film production company in 1986, called Harpo Productions, Inc. Today Harpo spans media in radio, TV, and films, becoming a major media force in the entertainment industry. Her magazine “The Oprah Magazine,” was declared the most successful startup in the history of the industry by Forbes Magazine. Oprah’s media empire has grown internationally as well, with 46 million viewers weekly in 140 countries worldwide. She possesses what many deem “The Oprah Effect,” describing her powerful influence over public opinion and the daily habits of millions. Oprah has even been able to influence US law, such as President Clinton’s signing of the “Oprah Bill” in 1993 which built a national database of convicted child abusers.
Oprah is the world’s only African American billionaire, making her the richest self-made woman in America. She has used her wealth to become one of the world’s top philanthropists through her Oprah Angel Network. Her rags to riches story has been an inspiration to woman all over the world, and has helped give rise to similar successes in the talk-show market in both the US and China entertainment industries.