Rags to Riches Life. Remarkable Career. Outstanding Contributions to Charity.
When you think of the world's most successful women, one name in particular comes to mind: Oprah.
Oprah Winfrey has created a multifaceted entertainment empire — from her famous daytime talk show that ran for 24 years, to her magazine and book club, to roles in blockbuster films like Selma, The Butler, and the upcoming A Wrinkle in Time. She does it all and embodies the definition of a self-made woman, earning a 10 on the Forbes self-made scale.
In 1986, Oprah went national and became a household name. The Oprah Winfrey Show would go on to become a phenomenon, reaching an audience of 10,000,000 and grossing over $125 million in its first year. For her part, Oprah received $30 million that year, but it was only the start of her success.
Not satisfied to simply be in front of the camera, Oprah bought the show back from ABC and formed her own production company, Harpo (her own name spelled backwards). It was a move that let her shape every aspect of the show from how it was run to the selection of guests and topics. Refusing to follow the spectacle tabloid-leanings of contemporaries like Jerry Springer or Sally Jesse Raphael, her interviews were respectful and in-depth. Taking a different path grew her audience and brand, and it wasn't long before Harpo began producing other television shows and films like The Women of Brewster Place and Beloved.
In 2009, Oprah launched her own channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). While The Oprah Winfrey Show ended in 2011, she continued to host major interviews with pop culture stars like Lindsay Lohan and Lance Armstrong on her network. More recently, the network debuted the series Greenleaf, in which Winfrey also stars.
Beyond entertainment, Oprah's profile in activism and charity work has grown substantially. Her Angel Network is “a public charity formed in 1998... established to encourage people around the world to make a difference in the lives of others. Oprah's vision is to inspire individuals to create opportunities that enable underserved women and children to rise to their potential.” So far, the network has raised over $51,000,000 for organizations like Free the Children, The Seven Foundations Primary School, and Hurricane Katrina relief.
Unafraid of entering the political sphere, she has lobbied Presidents and Congress for bills supporting children’s rights, and in 2013 received the nation’s highest civilian honor from President Obama, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
For her rags-to-riches journey, remarkable business acumen, and outstanding contributions to charity, Oprah Winfrey is this week’s, and the final for 2017, #WCIW.