American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Oprah Winfrey’s net worth is $2.9 billion.
Her name in birth certificate is Orpah, named after the biblical character in the Book of Ruth. Later she was known as Oprah as most people often mistakenly called her so.
Oprah Winfrey was born to an unwed teenage mother on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. After her birth her mother, Vernita Lee, moved to north in search of job and she was raised by her maternal grandmother. Winfrey learned to read from her grandmother before age of three. She used to visit churches with her grandmother and recite biblical verses. Despite being raised in abject poverty, she cherished the love and affection of her grandmother.
After living with grandmother for six years, Winfrey shifted with her mother and half sister Patrica in inner-city Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her mother worked as a housemaid and could not give much love and affection to the family. Winfrey was sexually molested by her relatives and family friend in her home. After years of suffering, she ran away from home and was on her own by the age of fourteen.
Winfrey was bright from a young age. She initially attended Lincoln High School; but was later transferred to Nicolet High School in suburban area due to early completion. Winfrey was promiscuous in her teenage and used to steal money from her mother to date guys. Disappointed by her behavior, Winfrey’s mother sent her to her once considered biological father Vernon Winfrey in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Later it was found that her biological father was World War II veteran Noah Robinson, Sr).Vernon was a martinet but gave his daughter proper love and support to flourish. He encouraged her to study and required her to read and write book report weekly. Vernon’s dedication came to fruit as Winfrey graduated from high school with honors and won an oratory contest that eventually won her scholarship to Tennessee State University. Winfrey majored in Speech Communications and Performing Art in Tennessee State University.
Winfrey won Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant at the age of seventeen. This landed her at black radio station WVOL where she got an opportunity to work part-time as news reader. With this, became the youngest and first black female news anchor.
In 1976 she moved to in Baltimore to where she anchored in six’o’clock and the talk show People Are Talking. The show was a hit and Winfrey went on air for eight years on the show after which she was recruited to host WLS-TV morning talk show A M Chicago. Winfrey turned the show into one of the popular shows in the nation within months. Winfrey’s open and empathic personality renewed the fame and success of the show due to which the show was expanded to hour from an hour, renamed as The Oprah Winfrey Show and was broadcasted nationwide on September 8, 1986.
By the end of the first year, the show grossed $125 million dollars and Winfrey received $30 million dollars. In 1987, a year after it was broadcasted, the show received three Emmy Awards namely Outstanding Host, Outstanding Talk/Service Program and Outstanding Direction. The show was again awarded in the following year with Outstanding Talk/Service Program and Oprah was honored with the International Radio and Television Society’s “Broadcaster of the Year” Award. Oprah Winfrey became the youngest person ever to receive the award.
Apart from hosting talk shows, Oprah continued to capture the hearts of people with her appearance in movies. In 1985, she portrayed Sofia in the film adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple. She was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actress. The following year she performed in Native Son, a movie adaptation of Richard Wright’s classic 1940 novel.
In 1986, Oprah formed her own production company Harpo Productions, Inc. which then gained the ownership for the The Oprah Winfrey Show from ABC in 1988. With the ownership of her own talk show, Oprah became the first woman ever to own and produce talk show. In 1989, Oprah produced and starred in the first television miniseries The Women of Brewster Place followed by movies There Are No Children Here (1993), and Before Women Had Wings (1997).
The Oprah Winfrey show initially was classified as the tabloid show, where they discuss the sensational stories, make confessions and form a group therapy. In 1990s the talk show began to emphasize on literature, spiritual values and healthy living. Since then the show attracted more viewers and gained much attention in the public. In 1993 Oprah Winfrey interviewed the reclusive pop star Michael Jackson drawing over an audience of 36.5 million making it the most watched interview ever.
Time magazine dubbed Oprah Winfrey as the “100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century“. In 1998 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The word” Oprahfication” which signifies public confession as a therapy has been termed by The Wall Street Journal. As a result of her ability to cast tremendous influence on the public opinion over myriad of products, book sales and elections, the phrase “The Oprah Effect” is famous. It is believed that 420,000 and 1,600,000 votes were casted for Obama due to Winfrey’s endorsement in 2008 Presidential Election.
In addition, Winfrey has been involved in several philanthropic ventures. In 2004, Winfrey and her team visited to rural areas in South Africa and provided Christmas presents to fifty thousand children. Oprah established Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg by investing $40 million dollars. Winfrey has offered over 400 scholarships to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. She is believed to have offered $400 million dollars for educational causes as in 2012. In 2013, she donated $12 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
In 2013, Winfrey was awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama and with an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard. Oprah Winfrey’s net worth comes mostly from her production house, and her media involvement.
Considered as the richest African-American of 20th century, media giant, Oprah Winfrey Net Worth is believed to be whopping $2.9 billion.
Quick Facts about Oprah Winfrey
Full Name: Oprah Gail Winfrey
Profession: Media proprietor, Talk Show host, Actress, Producer, Entrepreneur
Height: 169 cm
Date of Birth: January 29, 1954
Place of Birth: Kosciusko, Mississippi, U.S
Education: Tennessee State University
Marital status: Single