Oprah Winfrey was born Orpah Gail Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, a former maid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner, barber, and city councilman.
While Winfrey has been cited as the richest African American of the 20th century, she does not come from a rich, or even middle class, family. She was born in an economically troubled neighborhood and raised by a single-teenaged mother in the city of Milwaukee. Orpah, 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 traveled north. Oprah was then raised by her grandmother,Hatti Mae Lee. Oprah while being raised by her grandmother lived in terrible conditions. Oprah's only friends were farm animals,however even at that age Oprah had a very imaginative mind. Oprah would frequently give the animals dramatic parts and included them in games. This was perhaps where she had gotten the craze for acting, and would soon be seen in legendary masterpieces such as The Color Purple (1985). Oprah because of her grandmother's values, had religion and God instilled in herself at a very young age. Oprah because of her grandmother knew how to read,and write before the age of three. Oprah during church would recite poems,and verses from the bible. Soon the church, and the entire neighborhood knew she had a gift and was nicknamed,"The Little Speaker". This would soon prompt her to become a woman with a strong perspective, which millions across the world would want to have insight on. This prepared her for The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986).
Due to her ability to read and write before the age of three, when enrolled in school she was often promoted several grades ahead of her age. Oprah at the age of six went to live with her mother, Vernita Lee. Vernita worked as a maid, so Oprah was often left alone at home with her cousins. Oprah due to her busy mother was paid little attention to at home, this is what prompted Oprah to started misbehaving and talking back to her mother. Vernita Lee then decided it was best Oprah live with her father in Nashville Tennessee. Oprah while living in Tennessee, found out her mother was pregnant and her mother requested for her to come back to Milwaukee to live with her mother and half-sister. When Oprah was nine she was raped by her nineteen year old cousin who was baby sitting 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. Toward all these incidents, she never told a soul because the predators swore her to silence. At the age of thirteen Oprah ran away from home, this was due to her years of abuse and at the age of fourteen she became pregnant with an ill son who died shortly after birth. Oprah took the death of her son as she was given a second chance in life. Oprah's mother sent her to live once again with her father in Nashville,Tennessee. Oprah's father was very strict and made education the number-one priority for Oprah.
Oprah attended Nashville East High School. Oprah during high-school wasn't precisely certain toward what she wanted to do, however she knew it was something with speaking or drama. Oprah was also elected school president and met with president Richard Nixon being apart of public speaking classes in her high-school.
Oprah during the last year of high-school was rehearsing with her drama class when a local radio station, WVOL spotted her and asked her if she would like to read on radio. Oprah was then given a job reading the news on the radio. Oprah soon entered into a public speaking contest where the grand prize was a scholarship to Tennessee State University. Oprah won the contest and received a scholarship to Tennessee State University where she majored in Speech Communications and Performing Arts.
Oprah during her college education was offered a job as a co-anchor on the CBS television station, she declined several times before she was convinced by her speech professor that it may be the ultimate step to launch her career. Oprah wanted to find work outside of Nashville Tennessee and was soon offered a job in Baltimore,Maryland. The job offer came up a few months before her graduation, she had to choose between the job and graduating, so she decided to choose the job in Maryland as the offer was very tempting. At the job in Maryland she wasn't a very good reporter and was shortly fired. Oprah's boss set her up as a talk show host on a morning talk show called, People Are Talking (1978). Immediately after the first show Oprah knew this is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Oprah strengthened the talk show for seven years and then she decided it was time to move on.
In 1981 Oprah sent recorded tapes of the show to a talk-show in Chicago called A.M. Chicago. They immediately offered her the job and in September of 1985 she changed the name of the show to, "The Oprah Winfrey Show". The first broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show was on September 8,1986 it broadcast nationally. The Oprah Winfrey show first targeted woman, however soon due to controversial topics and intriguing topics Oprah brought on to the show it appealed to people of all genders,ethnics,and ages. Oprah promoted many things on her show such as books, movie releases all of which people were eager to know what her opinions were of them. Oprah helped broaden not just woman's point of view and significance but Oprah helped to realize that every human has an importance in this world. From it's first broadcast The Oprah Winfrey show went on to receive multiple Day Time Emmy Awards and several other prestigious awards.Winfrey expanded the Oprah Winfrey show and started releasing a monthly magazine which was called, O:The Oprah Magazine. The first issue was in 2000. The series finale of the Oprah Winfrey Show as on it's twenty-fifth season and it aired on May,25,2011. Concluding a segment of her career toward which she used as a device to inspire millions and help thousands to lead a better life.
Oprah's made her debut as a film actress in the 1985 period drama film, The Color Purple. Oprah played a troubled housewife named Sofia. Oprah was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. This movie went on to become a Broadway musical adaptation. In 1998 Oprah starred in the movie, Beloved which she also produced. Winfrey played the character Sethe who was a former slave. Winfrey has also acted in several movies such as Charlotte's Web (2006), Bee Movie (2007), and The Princess and the Frog (2009).
Oprah Winfrey in 1998 received an Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2011 Oprah Winfrey received a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences.
Oprah Winfrey will forever be remembered as an innovator through the landmarks she made, becoming the first female African American to host a television show. Inspiring millions of people across the world, discussing significant issues on her show such as equal rights toward genders,racism,poverty, and many others. Oprah will be seen as an icon someone who paved the way for others to become successful.View Full Bio