Biography

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."

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.

Awards

  • 1997, People's Choice Awards — Favorite Female TV Performer: Winner
  • 2000, Emmy — Outstanding Made for Television Movie: Winner
  • 1989, Emmy — Outstanding Miniseries: Nominee
  • 1988, People's Choice Awards — Favorite Talk Show Host: Winner
  • 2013, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Nominee
  • 2013, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 1993, Emmy — Outstanding Informational Special: Nominee
  • 2002, Emmy — Bob Hope Humanitarian Award: Winner
  • 2013, Emmy — Outstanding Informational Series or Special: Nominee
  • 1998, People's Choice Awards — Favorite Female TV Performer: Winner
  • 2015, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Feature: Nominee
  • 2014, Critics' Choice Movie Awards — Best Supporting Actress: Nominee
  • 1985, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
  • 2014, Oscar — Best Motion Picture of the Year: Nominee
  • 2006, Tony — Musical: Nominee
  • 2011, Oscar — Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Winner
  • 1995, Peabody — Personal Award: Winner
  • 2016, Tony — Revival (Musical): Winner
  • 2014, Emmy — Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special: Nominee
  • 1986, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 2014, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Supporting Actress: Nominee
  • 2004, People's Choice Awards — Favorite Talk Show Host: Winner

Relationships

  • Patricia Lee — Half Sister
  • Barbara Winfrey — Stepmother
  • Vernon Winfrey — Father
  • Vernita Lee — Mother
  • Zelma Winfrey — Stepmother
  • Stedman Graham — Significant Other
  • Kirby Bumpus — Godchild
  • William Bumpus — Godchild

College

  • Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States (BA in Speech and Performing Arts, 1975)

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Details

  • Birth Name: Orpah Gail Winfrey
  • Birth Place: Kosciusko, Mississippi, United States
  • Profession: Talk-show host, Actor, Producer

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