Oprah Winfrey Biography
Oprah Winfrey has been in a movie with a Haitian actor.
Through the power of media, Oprah Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world. As supervising producer and host of the top-rated, award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show, she has entertained, enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers for the past two decades. Her accomplishments as a global media leader and philanthropist have established her as one of the most respected and admired public figures today.
Oprah began her broadcasting career at WVOL radio in Nashville while still in high school. At the age of 19, she became the youngest person and the first African-American woman to anchor the news at Nashville's WTVF-TV. She then relocated to Baltimore's WJZ-TV to co-anchor the Six O'Clock News and later went on to become co-host of its local talk show, People Are Talking.
In 1984, Oprah moved to Chicago to host WLS-TV's morning talk show, AM Chicago, which became the number one local talk show--surpassing ratings for Donahue--just one month after she began. In less than a year, the show expanded to one hour and was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. It entered national syndication in 1986, becoming the highest-rated talk show in television history. In 1988, she established Harpo Studios, a production facility in Chicago, making her the third woman in the American entertainment industry (after Mary Pickford and Lucille Ball) to own her own studio.
The Oprah Winfrey Show has remained the number one talk show for 20 consecutive seasons*. Produced by her own production company, Harpo Productions, Inc., the show is seen by an estimated 48 million viewers a week in the United States** and is broadcast internationally in 123 countries.
MAGAZINE FOUNDER AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
In April 2000, Oprah and Hearst Magazines introduced O, The Oprah Magazine, a monthly magazine that has become one of today's leading women's lifestyle publications. It is credited as being the most successful magazine launch in recent history and currently has a circulation of 2.3 million readers each month. In April 2002, Oprah launched the first international edition of O, The Oprah Magazine in South Africa, extending her live your best life message to another broad audience.
In 2004, O at Home, a newsstand-only quarterly shelter magazine designed to help readers create a home that reflects their personal style, made its debut.
Through her company's film division, Harpo Films, she has produced projects based on classic and contemporary literature that have garnered the highest industry honors for quality acting and production. Telefilms under the Oprah Winfrey Presents banner have included the award-winning Tuesdays With Morrie, based on the best-selling novel by Mitch Albom and starring Academy Award®-winner Jack Lemmon and Emmy Award®-winner Hank Azaria; David and Lisa, an updated version of a 1962 film, re-written for television by Lloyd Kramer and Theodore Isaac Rubin and starring Academy Award®-winner Sidney Poitier; and Their Eyes Were Watching God, based on the Zora Neale Hurston novel and starring Academy Award®-winner Halle Berry.
In 1998, Harpo Films produced the critically acclaimed Beloved, a Touchstone Pictures feature film based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison, which co-starred Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover and was directed by Jonathan Demme.
Oprah made her acting debut in 1985 as "Sofia" in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple, for which she received both Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominations. She also has been lauded for her performances in the made-for-television movies Before Women Had Wings (1997), There Are No Children Here (1993), and The Women of Brewster Place (1989).
Oprah.com is a premiere women's lifestyle website, offering advice on everything from the mind, body and spirit to food, home and relationships. It provides comprehensive resources related to The Oprah Winfrey Show, O, The Oprah Magazine and Oprah & Friends. In addition, the website has unique original content, including Oprah's Book Club, which offers free in-depth reading guides for each book selection, online discussion groups and Q&A sessions with literary experts. Within its first year, Oprah's Book Club quickly became the largest book club in the world, attracting more than 1 million members. In 2003, Oprah.com also launched Live Your Best Life, an interactive multimedia workshop based on her sold-out national speaking tour that features Oprah's personal life stories and life lessons along with a workbook of thought-provoking exercises.
Oprah.com averages 68 million page views and more than 4 million users per month and receives approximately 20,000 e-mails each week.
Oprah has long believed that education is the door to freedom, offering a chance at a brighter future. Through her private charity, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, she has awarded hundreds of grants to organizations that support the education and empowerment of women, children and families in the United States and around the world. Amongst her various philanthropic contributions, she has donated millions of dollars toward providing a better education for students who have merit but no means. She also has developed schools to educate thousands of underserved children internationally and created "The Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program," which gives scholarships to students determined to use their education to give back to their communities in the United States and abroad.
In December 2002, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation expanded its global humanitarian efforts with her ChristmasKindness South Africa 2002 initiative that included visits to orphanages and rural schools in South Africa where 50,000 children received gifts of food, clothing, athletic shoes, school supplies, books and toys. Sixty-three rural schools received libraries and teacher education.
During a December 2000 visit with Nelson Mandela, Oprah pledged $10 million to build a school in South Africa. As that commitment broadened, she established The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation, to which she has contributed more than $40 million toward the creation of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls--South Africa, which opens in January 2007. Located in a 28-building campus in Henley-on-Klip, the Leadership Academy is a state-of-the-art independent school that will engender high standards of academic achievement and service leadership for girls. Its first 152 accepted 7th and 8th grade students, who show outstanding promise despite their impoverished backgrounds and social circumstances, represent all nine South African provinces. By 2011, the Leadership Academy will accommodate approximately 75 learners per grade, for a total of approximately 450 learners, grades 7 through 12. Her vision is that the Leadership Academy will help develop the future women leaders of South Africa.
In a 1997 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah encouraged viewers to use their lives to make a difference in the lives of others, which led to the creation of the public charity Oprah's Angel Network in 1998. To date, Oprah's Angel Network has raised more than $50 million, with 100% of audience donations going to non-profit organizations across the globe. Oprah's Angel Network has helped establish scholarships and schools, support women's shelters and build youth centers and homes--changing the future for people all over the world.
Oprah's commitment to children also led her to initiate the National Child Protection Act in 1991, when she testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to establish a national database of convicted child abusers. On December 20, 1993, President Clinton signed the national "Oprah Bill" into law.
TELEVISION PROGRAMMING CREATOR
In September 2002, Harpo Productions, Inc. created Dr. Phil, a syndicated daytime talk show produced by Paramount Domestic Television. Dr. Phil, which had the highest-rated talk show launch since The Oprah Winfrey Show, consistently ranks second among all U.S. talk shows.
Dynamic television personality and best-selling author Rachael Ray announced a partnership with Harpo Productions, Inc., King World Productions, and Scripps Networks to host a daily, one-hour, talk show that will begin airing in September 2006.
CABLE NETWORK CO-FOUNDER
Oprah is co-founder of Oxygen Media, which operates a 24-hour cable television network for women that launched in 1998 and is currently available in more than 69 million homes across America. In September 2002, she debuted Oprah After The Show, an original series that airs on the Oxygen Network. The spontaneous, unscripted, half-hour show is taped immediately following The Oprah Winfrey Show.
SATELLITE RADIO PROGRAMMER
Through a recent joint venture, Oprah announced the launch of Oprah & Friends, a new channel on XM Satellite Radio, which launched in September 2006. Oprah & Friends will feature a broad range of original daily programming from Harpo Radio, Inc., including regular segments hosted by popular personalities from The Oprah Winfrey Show and O, The Oprah Magazine and an exclusive 30-minute listener call-in weekly radio show, "Talk to Me" with Oprah Winfrey.
Twenty years after she made her movie debut as "Sofia" in The Color Purple, Oprah made her Broadway debut as a producer for the musical The Color Purple, which opened on December 1, 2005, at the Broadway Theatre in New York City.
In recognition of her extraordinary achievements and contributions, Oprah has received numerous honors, including the most prestigious awards and highest industry acknowledgments.
Time Magazine--100 Most Influential People in the World
The New York Public Library--Library Lion 2006
National Civil Rights Museum - 2005 National Freedom Award
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People -- Hall of Fame
Time Magazine -- 100 Most Influential People in the World
International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences -- 2005 International Emmy Founders Award
United Nations Association of the United States of America - Global Humanitarian Action Award
National Association of Broadcasters - Distinguished Service Award
Time Magazine - 100 Most Influential People in the World
Association of American Publishers - AAP Honors Award
54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards® - Bob Hope Humanitarian Award
Broadcasting & Cable - Hall of Fame
National Book Foundation - 50th Anniversary Gold Medal
National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences® - Lifetime Achievement Award
The following year, after accepting this pinnacle honor, Oprah removed herself from future Emmy® consideration and the show followed suit in 2000. Oprah and The Oprah Winfrey Show received more than 40 Daytime Emmy Awards®: seven for Outstanding Host; nine for Outstanding Talk Show; more than 20 in the Creative Arts categories; and one for Oprah's work as supervising producer of the ABC After School Special Shades of Single Protein.
Time Magazine - 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century
Newsweek - Most Important Person in Books and Media
TV Guide - Television Performer of the Year
International Radio & Television Society Foundation - Gold Medal Award
George Foster Peabody Awards - 1995 Individual Achievement Award
Sources: * Nielsen Cassandra Ranking Report - Nov'86 to July '99 and Wrap Sweeps, Nov '99 to July '06. Primary Telecasts Only.
** Nielsen/NPower/P2+ unique viewer average: 1minute qualifier, Weeks of 11/10/05, 2/2/06 & 5/11/06