The story of Oprah Winfrey is such an inspiring one. It is a story that reminds us that our passion can take us to any height we desire. It is a story of how a once sexually abused drug addict rose from merely reciting poetry at church and public events to become one of the most famous, richest black woman in the world.
Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi in 1954 to unmarried parents. She was raised by her grand mother and at age six, she was sent off to live with her mother in Milwaukee. When Oprah Winfrey was nine years old, she was sexually assaulted by some men trusted by her mother. Confused and emotionally hurt, she ran away from home, took to drugs and sex to overcome her trauma. Her frustrated mother finally sent her to live with her father in Nashville.
Oprah Winfrey: The Most Famous, Richest Black Woman in the world
Oprah’s father was a strict man, and in no time, Oprah was back in school. At the age of 12, Oprah was paid $500 for giving a speech and her passion for speaking was unleashed to the fullest. At the age of 16, Oprah Winfrey won a speaking contest that awarded her full scholarship to the Tennessee State University. She also won two beauty pageants while studying at the Tennessee University. These beauty pageants became her leverage to get into the world of talk shows. These achievements took Oprah Winfrey off our list of school drop out billionaires.
After graduating, Oprah Winfrey took a job as a newscaster with WJZ-TV in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1977, she was switched by the station to co-host a morning talk show with Richard Sher called “Baltimore is talking.” Recalling her first experience on that job, she said, “This is what I was born to do. It is more like breathing.“
Oprah Winfrey spent seven years doing shows with Sher. It was with these shows that she built her confidence and self esteem. Her show began to gain public attention and Oprah Winfrey was being regarded as a rising authority in the talk show world.
Oprah Winfrey moved to Chicago in 1984 to anchor a dying morning show called “A.M Chicago,” which was aired on WLS-TV. Her first strategic move was to venture into more controversial topics and before she knew it, A.M Chicago was back on top. To compliment her growing popularity, the show was renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show.“
Realizing the fact that control is more essential than money, Oprah Winfrey started her own production company called Harpo Studios Productions. With her own production studio in place, Oprah Winfrey strategically negotiated some deals with her TV host and those deals propelled her into the Forbes list of world billionaires.
Today, her company Harpo Entertainment Group is became a formidable force in the film and television industry. After buying up the right to the Oprah Winfrey Show, she became the first woman in history to own and produce her own talk show. Smart move, isn’t it?
Between 2004 and 2006, Oprah Winfrey was worth about $1.5billion and she was the only black woman on the Forbes list of world Billionaires thus; making Oprah the first African – American Billionaire. She also became the most famous, richest black woman in the world. As at 2010, Oprah Winfrey remains the richest black woman in the world while Aliko Dangote is the richest black man in the world.
Oprah Winfrey was on the list of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the 20th century. In 1988, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 1999, she received the National Books Foundation’s 50th anniversary gold medal for her services to books and authors. In 2010, she became the richest black person in the world with an estimated net worth of $2.5billion. Not bad for a woman who discovered her passion for public speaking and held on to that passion for many years.
Oprah Winfrey has proven to all that a simple hobby can actually turn into a billion dollar business. One lesson I want to pull out from the Oprah Winfrey story is this; your hobby or passion will never make you a dime unless you build a business around it. Oprah also highlighted the need for control. Had she not started Harpo Studios Production, she probably would not have become the most famous, richest black woman in the world.