In the 1990’s, any television loving human being could not have missed the broad toothed grin, the confident demeanour and the calm, passionate gaiety of a woman, who by far, dominated the idiot box for decades.
She was none other than Oprah Winfrey, who changed the rules of media hosting and shows. A woman with no background in this field, no millions to support her aspirations and no backing to succeed, yet, she broke all barriers and created a niche that no one can even today match up to!
The TV personality and an Academy award nominee, has captivated hearts of millions across the world.
Oprah Winfrey is a legend in the right context. As she celebrates her birthday on 29th January, here are some unknown facts about her –
A small-town upbringing – She comes from humble backgrounds and was born in a small town in the US called Kosciusko, MS, in 1954.
Winfrey was named “Orpah” after the biblical character in the Book of Ruth on her birth certificate, but people mispronounced it regularly and “Oprah” stuck.
At age 17, Winfrey won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant. She is known to be at least 8% Native American–something she discovered when undergoing a DNA test for the PBS show African American Lives.
Winfrey had a son when she was 14 years old who died as an infant.
Troubled childhood – her mother had Oprah in her teens. On numerous occasions, Oprah has spoken about her troubled childhood, sexual humiliation and racial discrimination. She was brought up with meagre finances to support her. After adolescence, Oprah moved in with her father, Vernon, who lived in Nashville. She attended Tennessee State University, and she started working in TV and radio.
Instant hit – Oprah hit it out with her audiences right from the word go. The Oprah Winfrey Show grossed $125 million after its first year, and Oprah made $30 million. Her USP – classy, relatable topics and the emotional connect.
She worked with Disney – She signed a multipicture contract with the entertainment giant, and she starred in the 1998 film Beloved.
She’s one of the richest African-American females in the world – no legacies here, just hard work and dedication to succeed.
She popularised the confession form of communication on TV chat shows. Her guests were personal, intimate and ready to discuss their private lives. The Wall Street Journal called this “Oprahfication,” meaning “public confession as a form of therapy.”
Winfrey was fired from her first job –
After finishing her studies, she was offered the job of a co-anchor on Baltimore’s WJZ-TV. Unfortunately, just 7-8 months into the show, she was asked to leave as she was considered unfit for the role.
The only way to get to Winfrey’s home in Colorado is by gondola –
Her $14 million mansion is located in an area of Telluride called Mountain Village. The only way to reach there is through a 10-minute gondola ride. The mansion boasts of a wine cellar designed to resemble a historic mining tunnel. The 56-foot-long space holds 1,600 bottles and comes with water mists and sound effects.
Winfrey has donated her voice for an array cartoon characters, voicing Gussie the goose for Charlotte’s Web, and Eudora, the mother of Princess Tiana in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, among others.
She has interviewed countless celebrities, including Michael Jackson, whose interview became the 4th most watched event in American television history, as well as the most watched interview of all-times, with 36 million viewers.
She is also referred to by many as the most influential woman in the world.
In 2013, Winfrey was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation’s highest civilian honor) by President Barack Obama.