Who is Oprah Winfrey? A True Rags to Riches Story
Hey everyone! Welcome back to BrainDine, a perfect place to feed your brain. Today, we are going to take a deeper dive into the fascinating lives of incredible people. One of these people is Oprah Winfrey. She is a true example of what we call as rags to riches story. So, if you don’t know who is Oprah Winfrey, stay tuned and you will be motivated like hell with her life story.
Who is Oprah Winfrey?
Oprah is a woman who needs no introduction. She’s one of the most widely known figures worldwide. She is someone who can’t even remember the last time she met someone who didn’t instantly recognize her.
Winfrey became a millionaire at the age of 32 and a billionaire before the age of 50. But she’s not so far removed from the struggles of her past that she’s lost perspective today. We’re going to take a deep look at Oprah’s past and talk about what she’s overcome and how she got to her position of wealth and influence. It’s a true example of rags to riches story that you won’t want to miss but let’s start with some background.
Most people associate Oprah with her hugely successful talk show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show‘ which she hosted for 25 years. But she’s a bit of a renaissance woman in the world of entertainment. She’s an actor, director, producer, media executive, philanthropist, and mogul.
She’s earned the title of queen of all media and is considered by many to be the most influential woman in the world. The powerful impact she has when endorsing a product, a politician, an idea, and everything in between is known as the Oprah effect.
She runs Harpo Productions and Oprah Winfrey Network and has also co-written five books and appeared in several films. The most recent film is ‘A wrinkle in time‘ in 2018. Apple and Oprah announced a multi-year partnership through which she will create products and possibly act in a number of original programs.
It’s hard to imagine that someone who’s achieved so much was once so poor. You won’t believe that she used to dress in potato sacks and didn’t own even a pair of shoes until she was six. For that story let’s go back to the beginning
Beginning of the Legend
Oprah was born in Mississippi in 1954 to an unwed teen mother. Her full name is Oprah Gail Winfrey. In the first several years of her life, she lived with her grandmother in Mississippi.
She used to live in a small house with no electricity or running water. Since there was no indoor plumbing they had to use an outhouse in the backyard. Her grandmother taught her to read by the age of three.
When she entered into the kindergarten, her first day she wrote a letter to her teacher. In this letter, she told her teacher that she did not belong there because she knew too many big words. So, seeing her knowledge and intellect, she was moved up to the first grade the same day. And later on, skipped to the second grade as well.
When Oprah was 6, her grandmother became ill. So, she was sent to live with her mother in Wisconsin. Several years later, she finally found some stability living with her father and stepmother in Nashville.
She openly talks about sexual abuse. Oprah tells that she suffered sexual abuse as a child and teenager. She was raped for the first time at the age of 9 by a cousin and was abused by other family members as well.
But one need to praise her spirit. Despite all these dark beginnings and challenges, Oprah Winfrey began developing a powerful vision that would drive her forward.
Oprah Winfrey strongly believes that intentional thoughts have the power to shape your reality. She felt if she envisioned herself being successful and put those thoughts out into the universe that she would be able to achieve her goals, then, one day all her goals will be a reality.
Winfrey encountered many challenges early on and in her career. She was told she was too emotional or too empathetic. But what others saw as weaknesses in her, she saw them as her strengths. And we need to learn this from her. Don’t let yourself down because of other thoughts.
She set out to prove all of her doubters wrong and began to turn a small local talk show into a national sensation. However, it wasn’t as easy as it seems. All of this was only after suffering through a number of struggles that included thoughts of suicide too.
When Oprah Winfrey was just 14, she became pregnant as a result of a sexual assault. The words of her father who said he would rather have a dead daughter than a daughter who shamed his family played over and over again in her head.
You and me, we both know that at this condition how a teenager feels. Due to all these troubles, she felt the only way out at this point was suicide. Oprah later said that if the internet had existed in those times she likely wouldn’t be here today. She says this because the only reason she didn’t kill herself was that she wasn’t sure how to do it.
Before she went through with it she went into premature labor. Her son whom she later named ‘Canaan’ died shortly after birth. After the death of her son, Oprah approached her life with a renewed focus. She made a decision to turn her life around or if I say in her words ‘course-correct’
In high school, she began working at a Nashville radio station and earned a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. At the university, she studied communications. One day she was called out of class by a CBS affiliate who had heard her on the radio. They offered her a job as a news anchor on a Nashville station at the age of just 19. She became the youngest news anchor in the US and was also the first African American female news anchor in the whole nation. But the struggles didn’t end there.
At the age of 22, she moved to Baltimore to co-anchor the 6 o’clock news on a local station. But her co-anchor was very vocal about not liking her. Also, the producers felt that she was too emotional in her reporting. One of the producers actually told her she was unfit for television news. Following these incidents, she was fired seven months after accepting the job.
But being a strong person like she was always, she didn’t let this discourage her. Oprah said that every time she felt discriminated against marginalized or put down or someone tried to demotivate her, she always told herself it won’t be too long.
From Rags to Riches: The Win
After taking a couple of low profile media jobs Winfrey moved to Chicago in 1984 to take over a morning talk show with the very poor ratings. Despite seeing the unpopular show as an obstacle, she saw it as a great opportunity for her. She was offered a salary of 225 thousand dollars a year.
Oprah Winfrey tells that this was more money than she ever thought she would make within months. With her true dedication and beautiful mind, she transformed the show. The show which was once very unpopular now became the highest-rated talk show in Chicago.
She found that vulnerability was her greatest power even though she had been criticized for this in her previous jobs. The movie critic Roger Ebert encouraged her to sign a syndication deal to make the show national. This led to the creation of the Oprah Winfrey Show which debuted in September 1986 very quickly the show became the number one daytime talk show in the US.
The show would experience unprecedented success in its 25-year run time. With her continuous hard work and never-ending hope, Oprah quickly became a millionaire at the age of 32 after negotiating ownership rights to the program and starting her own production company.
In the history of the show, she conducted over 37,000 interviews over the course of four thousand four hundred episodes build-up in less than ten years. After starting the show her net worth was 340 million dollars and she was the only African-American included on the Forbes 400 list.
By the year 2000, on one hand, a new millennium started and on the other hand, Winfrey became the richest African-American of 20th Century. Her net worth at that time was 800 million dollars. Again, in 2006 she was recognized as the highest-paid television entertainer in the US with a yearly income of 260 million dollars. You will be surprised to know that this amount was more than five times the earnings of the second highest paid entertainer Simon Cowell.
Following the success of her show, she ventured out into other areas she launched. ‘The Oprah Magazine’ in 2000 which has brought in more than 1 billion dollars in consumer revenue. She also wrote several best-selling books and acted in some notable films including The Color Purple, The Butler, and Selma in 2011.
She launched the Oprah Winfrey Network, a cable network that initially struggled and then thrived. Today she still owns about 25 percent of the network. This percentage of stake is valued at around seventy-five million dollars. Along with that she also owns a 10% stake in Weight Watchers valued at three hundred and sixty-five million dollars.
The win is still on. She recently entered into a very lucrative development deal with Apple. Today her Harpo production company is worth an estimated one hundred and fifty million dollars. At the age of 49, she was listed for the first time on Forbes list of the world’s billionaires becoming the world’s first black female billionaire.
At the time I am writing this article, her net worth is about three billion dollars. We hope and pray that her worth grow day by day. She’s recognized as the richest self-made woman in America.
So how does a great personality like her spend all that money? Well in addition to the millions she’s given away through philanthropy, she has plenty left over to splurge on herself.
Oprah Winfrey owns a number of properties including a ninety-five million dollar estate in Montecito, California. A fourteen million dollars ski house in Colorado, a twenty-five million dollar miniature pony farm in California, a massive farm in Hawaii and another million-dollar Tennessee mansion.
She travels in a 42 million dollars custom-built global Express private jet. Being a good-hearted person, she likes to spend money on others too. For example, she took 100 of her employees on a Mediterranean cruise in 2009 at a cost of $800,000. She’s also left her dogs thirty million dollars in her will to ensure they are well taken care of after she’s gone.
Are you already astonished with all these riches? But that’s not all. In a recent interview, Oprah said she thought grocery store avocados were too expensive so she bought her avocado orchard. Yeah, it’s safe to say she’s living the good life and she deserves it. Her life story is something we all take a lesson from.
Since we are talking about riches, you also need to read some unknown facts about the person who was the richest person on the planet on the planet. Yes, you got it right. I am talking about Bill Gates.
Oprah Winfrey’s rags to riches story show us that no matter what you go through and what obstacles are placed in your path, you can be successful as long as you are intentional and focused. The best revenge is a life well-lived.
So use all the doubts and criticisms of others as fuel to push yourself forward on your path to greatness. For further guidance from Oprah on how to achieve your deepest vision check out her latest book ‘The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose’.
In this incredibly valuable book, Oprah offers insights from lessons she’s learned through her own life and experiences that will help you create a life that is not only successful but significant.
This is really a great book. If you need this book, just CLICK HERE.
While researching this story, I came across some incredible quotes by Oprah Winfrey. I would like to share these with you.
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.
The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.
Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.
Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.
Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
Turn your wounds into wisdom.
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
The Question and Conclusion
Now that I am winding down to the end of this story, I would like to know how rich would you have to be before you would feel comfortable kicking back retiring and enjoying the fruits of your labor. Or do you see yourself never fully retiring? Let me know what you think in the comments.
For sticking with us until the end you get to know a couple of extra facts about her. Here they are:
- Oprah’s half-siblings have unfortunately died tragic deaths. Her half-brother Jeffrey died of AIDS in 1989 and her half-sister Patricia died in 2003 due to cocaine addiction.
- She also has another half-sister named Patricia who was given up for adoption. Oprah did not even know she existed until 2010.
So now if someone asks you Who is Oprah Winfrey? You can say she is a true example of what we say as rags to riches story.
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