Oprah Winfrey (1954 – ) is an influential talk show host, author, philanthropist, actress and media personality. Oprah Winfrey has played a key role in modern American life, shaping cultural trends and promoting various liberal causes. Through her talk shows and books, she has focused on many issues facing American women. She has been an important role model for black American women, breaking down many invisible barriers.
Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Her parents were unmarried and separated soon after conception. Oprah had a difficult childhood. She lived in great poverty and often had to dress in potato sacks for which she was mocked at school. She was also sexually abused at an early age.
Her emotional style did not go down well for a news programme, so she was transferred to an ailing daytime chat programme. After Oprah had taken over, the daily chat show took off, and this later led to her own programme – The Oprah Winfrey Show.
The Oprah Winfrey show has proved to be one of the most successful and highly watched TV show of all time. It has broken many social and cultural barriers such as gay and lesbian issues. Oprah has also remained a powerful role model for women and black American women in particular. She is credited with promoting an intimate confessional form of media communication, which has been imitated across the globe.
Oprah Winfrey has promoted many spiritual books, which have focused on the aspect of taking responsibility for your life – not changing your circumstances, but changing the way you look at your life.
Her range of media enterprises have made Oprah one of the richest self-made women. The Forbes’ international rich list has listed Winfrey as the world’s only black billionaire from 2004 to 2006 and as the first black woman billionaire in world history.In 2014 Winfrey has a net worth of more than 2.9 billion dollars.
The Oprah Winfrey book club has become the most influential book clubs in the world. A recommendation from Oprah Winfrey frequently sends books to the top of the best-seller lists. Many commentators agree that Oprah Winfrey exerts enormous influence. Some estimated her support for Barack Obama helped him gain one million votes in the 2008 election.
Oprah Winfrey was also nominated for an Oscar in the film – A Color Purple. Produced by Steven Spielberg, the epic Color Purple told of segregation in America’s deep south. Oprah was widely admired for her role as Sofia.
Support for Obama
From 2006 to 2008, she lent her support to the Presidential campaign of Barack Obama. Her influence and personal following played a key role in helping Obama to become the first African-American to become president.
In 2013, Oprah gained a unique interview with the professional cyclist, Lance Armstrong. It was on Oprah that Armstrong finally made a dramatic confession that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career.
Oprah Winfrey has been critical of the presidency of Donald Trump and on various occasions has hinted she would be interested in the possibility of running as a Democrat for president. However, she later clarified her view and says a presidential bid is unlikely.
Clancy's comment: Go, Oprah! What an extraordinary life, eh?