In addition to being the host of a multiple Emmy-winning talk show, media mogul Winfrey has earned accolades for, among other things, her work as an actress, a magazine publisher, a producer and a philanthropist. Although she was born into poverty and abused as a child, Winfrey didn't allow her dire circumstances to defeat her. At 18, she won the Miss Black Tennessee pageant and a year later became the first black woman to anchor the evening news in Nashville. Winfrey further honed her broadcast skills in Baltimore before moving to Chicago to host a daily talk show in 1984. She was so popular that the series (A.M. Chicago
) was renamed in her honor and became a national hit in syndication in 1986. Oprah quickly became a household name, a wildly successful yet still accessible woman who struggled with her weight and talked about surviving sexual molestation. But hosting a talk show wasn't all Winfrey had in mind. Although untrained as an actress, she was nominated for an Oscar for her powerful performance as a slave in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple
. (Two decades later Winfrey produced a musical version on Broadway.) She created Harpo productions to house her show and to produce socially relevant films. She also launched a monthly book segment on her show and her selections immediately became best sellers. She extended the Oprah brand in publishing by creating her own magazine (O
) and in broadcasting by launching syndicated series with Dr. Phil McGraw and chef Rachael Ray. Winfrey's legacy grew even larger when she founded and funded a South African leadership school for impoverished girls she fondly referred to as her daughters. In 2011, Winfrey will wrap up her syndicated show and launch OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, described as a cable network "devoted to self-discovery."Oprah Winfrey Fast Facts:
- Won Miss Black Tennessee pageant and competed in Miss Black America pageant in 1971.
- At age 19, became the first black anchor on a Nashville nightly newscast, working first at WVOL before moving to the CBS affiliate WTFV-TV in 1975.
- Received the International Radio and Television Society's Broadcaster of the Year award in 1988, making her the youngest---and first black female---recipient.
- Received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Morehouse College in 1989.
- Received a total of 39 Daytime Emmy awards: seven for Outstanding Host; nine for Outstanding Talk Show; 21 in the Creative Arts categories. After receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998, she permanently withdrew her name from Daytime Emmy Award consideration.
- Initiated a campaign to establish a national database of convicted child abusers, and testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of the National Child Protection Act in 1991. As a result, President Clinton signed the "Oprah Bill" into law on Dec. 20, 1993, establishing the national database used by law-enforcement agencies around the world.
- First black woman named to Forbes magazine's billionaire list in 2003.
- Formed her own production company, Harpo (Oprah spelled backwards), in 1986 to produce films, videos and television movies of social importance.
- Oprah Winfrey Relationships:
- Vernita Lee - Mother
- Zelma Winfrey - Stepmother
- Barbara Winfrey - Stepmother
- Stedman Graham - Significant Other
- Vernon Winfrey - Father
- Patricia Lee - Half Sister
- Oprah Winfrey Awards:
- 2000 Emmy: Outstanding Made for Television Movie - Winner
- 1989 Emmy: Outstanding Miniseries - Nominee
- 1986 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture - Nominee
- 1993 Emmy: Outstanding Informational Special - Nominee
- 2006 Tony: Musical - Nominee
- 1997 People's Choice Awards: Favorite Female TV Performer - Winner
- 1995 Peabody: Personal Award - Winner
- 1988 People's Choice Awards: Favorite Talk Show Host - Winner
- 2004 People's Choice Awards: Favorite Talk Show Host - Winner
- 2013 Emmy: Outstanding Informational Series or Special - Nominee
- 1985 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Nominee
- 2002 Emmy: Bob Hope Humanitarian Award - Winner
- 1998 People's Choice Awards: Favorite Female TV Performer - Winner
- 2011 Oscar: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award - Winner
- Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN (BA in Speech and Performing Arts, 1975)