Oprah made it…

Posted on October 26, 2012


It is undeniable: Oprah Winfrey is famous all over the world.

However, to really understand the ‘Oprah phenomenon’, her caring personality, her charisma, talent, strength and perseverance, a research about her early life is mandatory.

All thought she doesn’t want to be remembered as ‘a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good’ but instead as ‘somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good’, a reflection on her humble origins and her traumatic childhood are essential in order to explain her extraordinary personality.

Let’s be honest, most of the people who grow up in extremely poor life conditions struggle and, often, fail when trying to achieve their aims; if in addition there are terrible traumas to cope with, such as those ones related to sexual abuses, it is very unlikable for someone to be so persistent, stubborn and passionate and  to be able to reach all their goals.

 Oprah’s early life wasn’t blessed by luck; born in Mississippi in 1954, she first lived with her grandmother and after few years went back and forth from her mother’s house to her father’s one.  

Among all the uncertainties of her childhood there was an only constant: her very sharp intellect. At the age of five, before joining the kindergarten, she was already able to read and write and before the end of the primary school she had skipped already two grades.

However, her skills did not pay her back for long time.

At the age of nine she experienced sexual abuses by her cousin, few years after she was raped again first by a family friend and then by her uncle.

Oprah always kept these abuses secret letting all the pain and the humiliation hurt her soul, deeply and silently.

At the age of fourteen she got pregnant, she decided to keep the baby who, unfortunately, died  not long time after being born.   

After all these traumatic experiences, Oprah understood it was time to take her life back; she knew she had a lot to say to the whole world and it was time, for the world, to start listening to this young girl whose life had already challenged enough.

Oprah started participating at radio programs, such as at WVOL,  a radio station serving the African American community in Nashville; she also won a full scholarship to Tennessee State University, where she majored in Speech Communications and Performing Arts. 

The possibility to co-host her first talk show, People Are Talking, arrived in 1976 when she was 22, and in 1984 she was invited to Chicago to host a half-hour morning program on WLS-TV; the program, in one year time, became the worldwide known The Oprah Winfrey Show.

From now on Oprah’s career is bound to ascend: she was named one of the “100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century” by Time magazine and in 1998 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
In 1988, at the age of 34, Oprah was the first woman in history to own and produce her own talk show but she didn’t let the fame overwhelm her and she always paid attention to people needy of help: she initiated, for example, a campaign to establish a national database of convicted child abusers, and the then US President Clinton signed the “Oprah Bill” into law in 1993; few years later Oprah also established the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, near Johannesburg. 

Oprah has always loved books that influenced her life, she therefore began her on-air book club in 1996  and three years later she received the National Book Foundation’s 50th anniversary gold medal for her service to books and authors. 
Oprah Winfrey’s business is immense: declared one of the wealthiest Americans by the business magazine Forbes, she earns more than $200 million a year.

Oprah has also become one of the world’s most generous philanthropists as she encourages other people to help those ones in need. Oprah also publishes two magazines, O, The Oprah Magazine, and O at Home. The launch of her first magazine was the most successful start-up in the history of the industry.

Oprah is nowadays seen as a powerful woman, a magnate, a role model, a great example of strength and integrity, a spiritual guide: she showed us that becoming an entrepreneur is not only about money, strategies, investments, sense of business, but firstly about an idea, a talent to explore, a passion, a dream, a nagging thought that keeps digging and digging inside. Oprah’s story is a story of difficulties and sadness transformed into hope, strength and motivation, a life that can inspire and motivate millions of youths. 

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