Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi and got her start as the host of the talk show People Are Talking (1976).
After eight years, Oprah landed her own morning show A.M. Chicago where she used her sentimental vibe to recruit a large fan following.
Oprah’s big break came when she starred in Steven Spielberg’s film The Color Purple (1985), a performance that resulted in her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The following year, she established her syndicated program Oprah Winfrey Show, which was aired on over 120 channels, pulled in 10 million viewers and grossed $125 million by the end of 1987.
Now a millionaire, Oprah immediately assumed ownership of the show from ABC and added it to her production company Harpo Productions. Her other Harpo projects include, the miniseries The Women of Brewster Place (1989).
Despite the early 1990s being comprised of trashy talk shows, Oprah’s focus on real life problems and issues not normally publicized in the news helped increased her popularity tremendously.
After writing a New York Times bestseller cookbook, Oprah established “Oprah’s Book Club,” which helped launch the careers of unknown authors. She went on to launch her company Oxygen Media in 1999 prior to debuting O: The Oprah Magazine in 2000.
In 2004, Oprah extended her contract of her show to include the 2010-2011 season. She went on to leave the network and transition to the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2009.
Oprah continues to be labeled as the richest African American in the 20th century as well as the only African American billionaire for three consecutive years.