Oprah Winfrey was born to mother, former maid Vernita Lee, and father, war veteran Vermon Winfrey. Known to be one of the richest women in America, she was born in an economically troubled neighbourhood and raised by a single-teenaged mother in the city of Milwaukee.
Oprah, named after a biblical character, had a name no one could pronounce, so her family and friends starting calling her Oprah. Shortly after Oprah’s birth, Vernita Lee left her daughter and travelled north.
Oprah was then raised by her grandmother, Hatti Mae Lee. Oprah while being raised by her grandmother lived in terrible conditions. She was constantly abused by family members who left her scarred for life.
But nevertheless, she has learnt to overcome many obstacles and is one very successful person today. Oprah because of her grandmother’s upbringing and values, had religion and God instilled in herself at a very young age, she knew how to read, and write before the age of three.
Oprah during church would recite poems, and verses from the bible. At the age of six she went to live with her mother, When Oprah was nine she was raped by her nineteen year old cousin who was babysitting her.
This wouldn’t be the only time she was sexually abused she would then be sexually abused by her cousin, a family friend, her mother’s boyfriend, and her uncle during her stay in Milwaukee.
Dubbed the “Queen of All Media”,she has been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and is currently North America’s only black billionaire.
Sent to live with the man she calls her father, a barber in Tennessee, Winfrey landed a job in radio while still in high school and began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19.
Her emotional ad-lib delivery eventually got her transferred to the daytime-talk-show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place,she launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated.
In 1985, Winfrey co-starred in Steven Spielberg’s The Colour Purple as distraught housewife, Sofia. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
The film went on to become a Broadway musical which opened in late 2005, with Winfrey credited as a producer. In October 1998, Winfrey produced and starred in the film Beloved, based on Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name.
She tested the power of the Oprah Effect in politics when she endorsed US presidential candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, the first time she made such a move. Research by economists at the University of Maryland revealed that the move delivered over one million votes to Obama.
With the launch of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah became one of the most famous people in the country. Over 10 million people watched her show every day. Oprah also made a lot of money. Her show made $125 million the first year and Oprah’s income was $30 million. She had come a long way from her grandma’s farm without running water.