"Turn your wounds into wisdom" - Oprah Winfrey

Early Life

Oprah was born on January 29, 1954. She stayed with her grandmother on a farm in Mississippi. She encouraged her love of books by teaching her to read at the age of 3. Oprah started by reading the Bible and eventually began speaking at her church.

After her third grade year ended, Oprah's father took her back to Milwaukee for a visit with her mother. At 9, she and her siblings were left with their cousin, who was 19 at the time and it was this cousin who sexually abused Oprah for the first time -- she was raped, and then taken out for ice cream and told to keep it a secret. She was again abused by a family friend and an uncle a couple of years later -- ongoing abuse that she kept silent. Without receiving much direction from her mother, she started skipping school, dating, stealing money from her mother, and running away. Vernita could not handle her behavior any longer and sent her back to live with her father in Nashville. At 14, Oprah discovered she was pregnant and hid the news from her parents until she was 7 months. The day she told her father the news of her pregnancy, she went into early labor and delivered her baby that day -- a boy, who died within 2 weeks of his birth.

1971 Enrols at Tennessee State University and begins working on a Nashville radio station reading the news

1973 Becomes Nashville’s first African-American TV correspondent and the youngest person to co-anchor the news for WTVF, a CBS-affiliated television station

1976 Moves to Baltimore and later hosts the TV chat show People are Talking

1984 Relocates to Chicago to host her own morning show AM Chicago, which was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show a year later

1985 Makes film debut in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress

1986 Winfrey launches The Oprah Winfrey Show as a nationally syndicated program placed on 120 channels

1988 Established Harpo Productions (“Oprah” spelt backwards)

1989 Winfrey stars in the ABC TV miniseries The Women of Brewster Place

1994 President Clinton signs the “Oprah Bill”, creating a nationwide database of convicted child abusers (Winfrey was abused as a child)

1998 Receives her seventh Emmy as Outstanding Talk Show Host and the ninth Emmy for The Oprah Winfrey Show (it goes on to win a total of 45 Emmys); Stars with Danny Glover in the film Beloved based on the prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison; Winfrey is named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th century

1999 Co-founds Oxygen Media, a company dedicated to producing cable and internet programming for women

2000 Launches O, The Oprah Magazine which is credited as being the most successful magazine launch in recent history

2003 Oprah’s Book Club becomes the largest book club in the world and she receives the Association of American Publishers’ AAP Honors Award

2005 Ranked number one on Forbes’ Power Celebrity list (first female black billionaire)

2007 Campaigns for Barack Obama to be elected as US President

2009 Interviews Whitney Houston in what Winfrey describes as the “best interview she’s ever done”

2010 The Oprah Winfrey Show begins its 25th and final season

2011 OWN, or the Oprah Winfrey Network, launches on New Year's Day

Kameisha Hugley

Oprah Winfrey Biography: Life and Career