Oprah spent most of her earliest years living with her grandmother in rural Mississippi. She was disliked by most of the kids in her school, and found her main joy in learning and reading. She also had a knack and joy for speaking, especially public speaking.
At the age six, she went to live with her mother in an apartment in Milwaukee. While there, she received hardly any attention from her mother, who was busy with work, a new daughter, and a boyfriend. Oprah moved to Nashville to live with her father, but after less then a year, she moved back in with her mother.
At the age of nine, Oprah was raped by an older cousin, and for the next several years, she was sexually abused by several other male relatives and friends of her mother, but remained silent about it. Oprah also became very rebellious at that time, and her mother felt that she couldn’t handle her anymore.
At age 14, she was sent back to Nashville, and lived with her father and his new wife. They quickly became a very positive influence on her, and they helped form structure in Oprah’s life. Oprah’s outstanding schoolwork also caused a teacher to send her to a more challenging school.
While Oprah was in high school, she began her broadcasting career as a newswomen for a Nashville radio station. In 1971, she entered Tennessee State University, and shortly later became a television news anchor for a Nashville station.
In 1976, Oprah went to Baltimore and briefly worked as a reporter and co-anchor for their ABC affiliate. However, she found that objective reporting was not her style, especially since she displayed so much emotion and personal involvement in her reporting.
She soon moved on to become co-host of a local talk show called People Are Talking. The show was very successful, and Oprah found her fit as a talk show host.
In 1984, Oprah went to Chicago to host a struggling talk show called A.M. Chicago. She quickly turned the show into a phenomenon, and after less than one year it was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show.
By 1986, the show entered national syndication, and it has been the number one talk show in America ever since. It currently draws over 20 million US viewers per week, and is also broadcast in over 100 other countries.
Through her production company Harpo Productions, Oprah owns and produces The Oprah Winfrey Show (which she bought the rights to in 1988), and is one of the wealthiest people in the media industry.
Among her other ventures, Oprah has had numerous television and movie roles, runs a magazine called O, is a cofounder of Oxygen media, produces films for ABC, is involved in many philanthropic activities, and speaks actively against child abuse.
So just what is it about Oprah and The Oprah Winfrey Show that give them such great appeal all over the world?
One thing that really stands out about Oprah is the genuineness and sincerity that she radiates both in and out of her show. Oprah brings her heart and soul into her shows, keeps it real, and expresses her nature. She is also sincerely interested in her show’s topics and guests.
Oprah is even willing to honestly share her personal experiences to a television audience of millions, in hopes that viewers will learn from them. On many occasions, she has shared and expressed details of her past abuses, her former drug problem, and even her weight fluctuations. Such personal topics would normally not even be mentioned by other talk show hosts or media personalities.
Oprah not only preaches self-empowerment, she also exemplifies and radiates it herself. It was her self-empowering attitude that made her emerge from a frequently abusive and bleak looking upbringing to become one of the most influential people in the world. She developed such a strong personality that she was able to climb the rungs of broadcasting very quickly, even though very few African American women up to that time had become a major factor in the media.
Oprah even took everything a step further when she created Harpo Productions a few years after The Oprah Winfrey Show debuted, and later purchased sole ownership of the show, making her one of the top businesswomen the world has ever known.
When people tune into Oprah’s show, they get a heavy dose of the empowering attitude that have made the woman and her show so successful for so many years.
Most people frequently encounter negative people in their lives and negative programming on television—which is exactly why so many people have opened their hearts to the positive oriented Oprah Winfrey and her show. Even when Oprah tackles negative issues, she brings out a positive lesson or message entailed in them.
When someone tunes in to an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, chances are that they are going to learn something useful. Oprah covers a wide variety of informative topics, ranging from how to improve relationships, how to strengthen families, instruction for crisis prevention and response, ways for children to protect themselves from danger, and much more. She also builds awareness of topics such as abuses occurring in different parts of the world, child sexual abuse, and many other matters that most people are not likely to know about.
Oprah has also spurned an increase in reading in the world through her show’s Book Club segment, which has inspired millions of people to read the books she discusses, and has given a tremendous boost to book readership in America. Oprah’s educational focus stems from her own love of learning and knowledge that she has had ever since her childhood.
The greatest magic of Oprah’s show is that it not only is informative and positive, but is also tremendously entertaining at the same time. Oprah has proven that you don’t need to be focused on negative aspects of the world in order to bring in viewers.
On every show, Oprah isn’t just doing a job—instead, she is enjoying herself and being herself. She has a playful and often humorous approach to her show, but is also willing to get serious during serious matters.
Oprah has always been willing to try new things and be creative. If there is one thing that can be certain about the future of Oprah’s media empire, it is that it will definitely continue bringing in new innovations and creative changes. Although not every one of these innovations becomes successful, looking at the big picture, Oprah’s show has been getting better and better every year.
When Oprah began sharing painful aspects of her own life with millions of viewers, it was truly something that had never been done. Her innovativeness also made her take on many topics and show ideas that were uncommon before Oprah covered them. Her Book Club was also something very unique, since books had hardly ever been mixed with television up to that time.
And in 1998, Oprah began bringing a life strategist and psychiatrist named Dr. Phil onto her show, who quickly became an immense success with viewers. In fact, in 2001, his segment was spun off into a new show, which was created and is currently produced by Oprah’s Harpo Productions.
Through her genuine curiosity and interest in what she is doing, Oprah brings an engaging level of attentiveness to her show and her life, and is remarkably attune to both the major and minor details of what she is involved in. She reads people well, and is attentive to what her guests are saying, as well as what her viewers are thinking and feeling. Furthermore, Oprah is also attentive to her own thoughts and feelings.
Oprah is great a building a harmonious and synergistic atmosphere. She covers relevant subjects, asks good questions (especially those that most people would want to know about), and objectively listens to answers.
And her warm, friendly, and empathetic attitude also allows her guests to open up to her. In many ways, Oprah is like a universal trustworthy and understanding friend. She also takes genuine care in what she is doing. This has also helped Oprah build appeal that can be appreciated by all kinds of people.
Oprah has also built her media empire by hiring the right people to work with her, and by knowing how to build synergy among them.
Oprah has certainly experienced a lot of “traumatic” events in her life, but she has not allowed herself to remain “traumatized” by them. Of course, Oprah is not perfect, and certain events may have gotten to her at certain times. But overall, her positive survivor attitude has allowed her to build herself up from many of her traumatic experiences instead of letting them break herself down.
Be persistent in pursuing your dreams.
The whole path to success is not as difficult as some people would want you to believe. The process was the goal. I’ve taken great joy in the process.
Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.
I’m one of those people who lives for the moment.
Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.
You do what you have to do to get through today, and that puts you in the best place tomorrow. (Ladies Home Journal, December 1988, Linden Gross)
If you live in the past and allow the past to define who you are, then you never grow. (Woman’s Day, October 1, 1986; Lyn Torrnabene)
I’m finally ready to own my own power, to say, “This is who I am.” If you like it, you like it. And if you don’t like it, you don’t. So watch out; I’m gonna fly. (People Weekly, January 10, 1994; Marjorie Rosen)
What I have learned in my life and work is that the more I am able to be myself, the more it enables other people to be themselves.
Don’t live your life to please others.
Never give up your power to another person.