Oprah’s Biography & Early Childhood

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Oprah is a famous woman who needs no introduction. She’s one of the most widely known figures worldwide, and she can’t even remember the last time she met someone who didn’t instantly recognize her.

Oprah Winfrey became a millionaire at 32 and a billionaire before 50. But she’s not so far removed from the struggles of her past that she’s lost perspective. Today, our team will take a deeper look into Oprah’s past and talk about what she’s overcome and how she got to her position of wealth and influence. It’s a genuine rag to riches story that you won’t want to miss, but let’s start with some background. Who is Oprah Winfrey? Most people associate Oprah with her hugely successful talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which she hosted for 25 years.

Oprah Winfrey announcing in a orange suit

But she’s a bit of a Renaissance woman in the world of entertainment. Oprah is an actor, director, producer, media executive, philanthropist, and mogul. She’s earned the title of Queen of All Media and is considered the most influential woman globally.

The powerful impact she has when endorsing a product, a politician, an idea, and everything in between is known as the Oprah effect. She runs Harpo Productions and Oprah Winfrey Network, co-written five books, and appeared in several films.

The most recent being A Wrinkle in Time. In 2018, Apple and Oprah announced a multi-year partnership through which she will create, produce and possibly act in several original programs. It’s hard to imagine that a woman who’s achieved so much was once so poor, and she used to dress in potato sacks and didn’t own a pair of shoes until she was six. 

Oprah Winfrey Childhood Backstory

For Oprah’s Childhood backstory, let’s go back to the beginning. Oprah was born Oprah Gail Winfrey in Mississippi in 1954 to an unwed teen mother. Oprah lived with her grandmother in Mississippi in a small house with no electricity or running water for the first several years.

Since there was no indoor plumbing, they had to use an outhouse in the backyard. Oprah’s grandmother taught her to read by the age of three. When she entered kindergarten, her first day, she wrote a letter to her teacher, telling her she did not fit there because of her knowledge of big words.

Oprah was moved up to the first grade the same day and skipped to the second grade when her grandmother became ill. When Oprah was six, she lived with her mother in Wisconsin. Several years later finally found some stability living with her father and stepmother in Nashville.

Oprah Winfrey as a child

Oprah Winfrey Abuse

Oprah has talked openly about sexual abuse as a child and teenager. She was raped at the age of nine by a cousin and was abused by other family members. Oprah began developing a powerful vision to drive her forward vision despite these dark beginnings and challenges.

Oprah strongly believes that intentional thoughts have the power to shape your reality. She felt that if she envisioned herself being successful and put those thoughts out into the universe, she would achieve her goals. Oprah encountered many challenges early on in her career.

Oprah was told she was too emotional or too empathetic. But what others saw as her weaknesses, she saw as her strengths. She set out to prove all of her doubters wrong and began to turn a small, local talk show into a national sensation.

Oprah Winfrey Thought About Suicide

However, this was only after suffering through several struggles that included thoughts of suicide in the battle. When Oprah was 14, she became pregnant due to a sexual assault. The words of her father, who said he would rather have a dead daughter than a daughter who shamed his family, played over in her head. She felt the only way out at this point was suicide. Oprah later said that if the internet had existed in those times, she likely wouldn’t be here today because the only reason she didn’t kill herself was that she wasn’t sure how to do it.

Before she went through with it, she went into premature labor. Her son, who she later named Kanan, died shortly after birth after her son died. Oprah approached her life with a renewed focus, and she decided to turn her life around and, in her words, course correct.

Oprah’s Radio Early Work

Oprah began working at a national radio station in high school and earned a full-ride scholarship to Tennessee State University. She studied communications. one day, she was called out of class by a CBS affiliate who had heard her on the radio.

They offered Winfrey a job as a news anchor on a Nashville station at the age of 19. She became the youngest news anchor in the U.S. and was the first African-American female news anchor nationwide. But the struggles didn’t end there.

Oprah Winfrey Fired From TV

At 22, Oprah moved to Baltimore to co-anchor the 6:00 news on a local station. But her co-anchor was very vocal about not liking her, and the producers felt she was too emotional in her reporting. one of the producers told her she was unfit for television news.

She was fired seven months after accepting the job, but she didn’t let this discourage her. She remembers that she always told herself that she felt discriminated against, marginalized, or put down every time. 

Oprah Winfrey early work in tv

Oprah Takes Over Talk Show

It won’t be long, though, when Oprah moved to Chicago in 1984 to take over a morning talk show with abysmal ratings after taking a few low-profile media jobs. Despite the show being unpopular, it was an excellent opportunity for her as she was offered a salary of $225,000 a year, which was more money than she ever thought she would make. Within months, Oprah transformed the show, and it became the highest-rated talk show in Chicago.

Oprah found that vulnerability was her most incredible power, even though she had been criticized for this in her previous jobs. The movie critic Roger Ebert encouraged her to sign a syndication deal to make the show national, which led to the creation of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which debuted in September 1986.

Oprah Winfrey Show 

The Oprah Winfrey show became the top daytime talk show in the U.S. The show had a 25-year run, and Oprah quickly became a millionaire at 32. After negotiating ownership rights to the program and starting her own production company, the show’s history showed that she conducted over 37,000 interviews throughout 4400 episodes. Her net worth was $340 million, and she was the only African-American included on the Forbes 400 list by the year 2000. Her net worth topped 800 million, making her the richest African-American of the 20th century.

In 2006, Oprah was recognized as the highest-paid television entertainer in the U.S. with a yearly income of $260 million, more than five times the second-highest-paid entertainer, Simon Cowell. Following the success of her show, Oprah ventured out into other areas.

Oprah Winfrey with a mic in a yellow dress

Oprah Winfrey Launched O Magazine

Oprah launched O the Oprah Magazine in 2000, which has brought in more than $1 billion in consumer revenue. She also wrote several bestselling books and acted in notable films, including The Color Purple, The Butler, and Selma. In 2011, she launched the Oprah Winfrey Network, a cable network that initially struggled and thrived.

Today, she still owns about 25% of the network, a stake valued at around $75 million. Oprah also owns a 10% stake in Weight Watchers, valued at 365 million. Oprah is also in a very lucrative development deal with Apple.

Today, Oprah’s Harpo production company is worth an estimated $150 million. At the age of 49, she was listed for the first time on Forbes list of the world’s billionaires, becoming the world’s first black female billionaire. 

Today, her net worth is about $3 billion, and she is recognized as the richest self-made woman in America.

Oprah Winfrey Real Estate

So how does Oprah spend all that money? Well, in addition to the millions she’s given away through philanthropy, she has plenty left over to splurge on herself. Winfrey owns many properties, including a 95 million dollar estate in Montecito, California, a 14 million dollar ski house in Colorado, a 25 million dollar miniature pony farm in California, a massive farm in Hawaii, and another million-dollar Tennessee mansion. She travels in a $42 million custom-built Global Express Express private jet. Oprah likes to spoil others, too. For example, she took 100 of her employees on a Mediterranean cruise in 2009 at the cost of $800,000.

She’s also left her dogs $30 million in her will to ensure they are well taken care of after she’s gone. But that’s not all. Oprah said she thought grocery store avocados were too expensive in a recent interview, so she bought her own avocado orchard.

Yeah, it’s safe to say she’s living the good life, and her story is one we can all learn from the lesson. Oprah’s rags to riches story show us that no matter what you go through and what obstacles are placed in your path, you can be successful as long as you are intentional and focused.

Oprah Winfrey Books

Oprah’s book talks about how the best revenge is a life well-lived, so use all the doubts and criticisms of others as fuel to push you forward on your path to greatness. For further guidance from Oprah on how to achieve your most profound division, check out her latest book, The Path Made Clear Discovering Your Life’s Direction and purpose. In this precious book, Oprah offers insights from lessons she’s learned through her own life and experiences that will help you create a life that is not only successful but significant.

While researching this story, we came across this great quote from Oprah. “The great, courageous act we all must do is to have the courage to step out of our own history and past so that we can live our dreams.”

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