“Turn your wounds into wisdom” are strong words asserted by the resilient Oprah Winfrey.
From poverty to being America’s first black billionaire, Oprah Winfrey has become one of the most celebrated personalities in the world. At a very young age, Oprah decided that she was not going to live a life that seemed to be in the books for her. She set out on a journey to determine her destiny by making her own choices and turning her life around after leaving her hometown.
Her journey in television has been legendary to say the least. She popularised and revolutionised the tabloid talk show genre allowing the LGBT community to enter the mainstream through the medium of television on her show. She also turned the focus of her talk show to literature, self-improvement, mindfulness and spirituality benefiting all her viewers. Her prime-time interview with Michael Jackson became the fourth most-watched event in American television history as well as the most watched interview ever. Her appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman was hailed by some as the “television event of the decade” and helped Letterman attract his largest audience. Along with creating a place for her in television she also worked in radio establishing her own channel called Oprah Radio back in 2006. She also created her own website, Oprah.com that provided resources and interactive content relating to her shows, magazines, book club, and public charity. She initiated “Oprah’s Child Predator Watch List” through her show and website to help track down accused child molesters. Winfrey has co-authored five books and started her own magazine called O, The Oprah Magazine. Her memoir, The Life You Want was published in 2016. When opportunity knocks one should immediately answer, but for Oprah it was about creating those opportunities for herself.
Her influence on the world has been manifold. In terms of her philanthropy, her charity Oprah’s Angel Network supported charitable projects and provided grants to nonprofit organizations around the world. She established the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls in South Africa to support underprivileged girls. She also benevolently donated to educational causes becoming the first black person to rank among the 50 most generous Americans. The power of Winfrey’s opinions and endorsement to influence public opinion, especially consumer purchasing choices, has been dubbed “The Oprah Effect.” The Wall Street Journal coined the term “Oprahfication”, meaning public confession as a form of therapy. She was called “arguably the world’s most powerful woman” by CNN and Time.com, “arguably the most influential woman in the world” by The American Spectator, “one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th Century” and “one of the most influential people” from 2004 to 2011 by TIME. Winfrey is the only person in the world to have appeared in the latter list on ten occasions. These are just a few of the titles to her bequest. The world needs Oprah now and always will.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you – always.” – Oprah Winfrey