It is a well-known fact that Oprah Winfrey is one of America’s richest people with an estimated net worth of $3 billion. She is most recognized for hosting her own talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, acting in a number of acclaimed films and owning her own production company. Her rise to fame didn’t come easy, yet with dedication and determination the star rose to prominence and is now referred to by many as the most influential woman in the world. Here are a few facts about Oprah Winfrey you probably didn’t know.
Oprah Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi. She was very bright, and at the age of three, was taught to read and write by her grandmother. Winfrey was born into poverty, living in a small farming community with her mother, Vernita. As a child, Winfrey was sexually abused by a number of male family members and friends. She later moved to Nashville to live with her father, Vernon. In high school, she became an honors student and was voted “The Most Popular Girl.” Oprah even received honors when she graduated from Tennessee State University with a degree in speech communications and performing arts. She was a brainiac and a beauty, winning several pageants including Miss Fire Prevention in Nashville and Miss Black Tennessee. Oprah would later begin working in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville.
Oprah Winfrey shot to fame when she was given her own morning talk show A.M. Chicago. With thousands of viewers, she easily beat out her competitor at the time, Phil Donahue. Winfrey also received a lot of attention after her role in Steven Spielberg’s movie The Color Purple, a role for which she was nominated Best Supporting Actress at the Oscar’s. In 1986, the star launched The Oprah Winfrey Show, which gained an audience of 10 million and grossed $125 million by the end of its first year. With its huge success, Winfrey gained ownership of the program and created her own production company named Harpo Productions (Oprah spelled backwards). Oprah also gained massive attention after losing 90 pounds and establishing her “Oprah’s Book Club,” which even today, has people reading books they never thought of picking up. Oprah would go on to host her show until 2011, and it would remain the highest rated talk show in America.
Oprah later created her own network called the Oprah Winfrey Network. After a bad start, it made headlines after Oprah interviewed cyclist Lance Armstrong. Winfrey went on to several other ventures, including creating The Oprah Magazine and Oxygen Network, a women-centered network.
Oprah Winfrey is known for her philanthropy. She created Oprah’s Angel Network, which has raised more than $51 million for charitable organizations and programs, including education programs for girls in South Africa. In 1994, Oprah was one of the people behind signing a bill that became law, creating a nationwide database for convicted child abusers. In 2002, Oprah was named the first recipient of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Bob Hope Humanitarian Award. In 2013, she received the nation’s highest civilian honor, known as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, given to her by President Barack Obama. Winfrey is also a big supporter of the Clinton Foundation, which supports causes such as treating HIV and AIDS and fighting climate change. On top of all of her humanitarian work, Oprah reportedly has a will that will donate $1 billion to charities.
Oprah Winfrey did not have an easy life as a child, but that did not stop her from achieving her dreams and becoming a success. Today, Oprah Winfrey is the richest African American and the first African American billionaire. She has a net worth of about $2.9 billion, and it continues to grow. Winfrey is known as the “Queen of all Media” and has received honorary doctorate degrees from both Harvard and Duke. Oprah has been in a relationship with Stedman Graham since the mid-1980s, but have never gotten married.