Oprah Winfrey: From Rags to Riches

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
– Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey (born Orpah Winfrey) is a talk show host, actress, media executive, billionaire, and philanthropist, born on January 29, 1954, in Mississippi, USA. Best known for hosting her talk show called “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Oprah is a very influential person who inspires those all around the world.

I was specifically drawn to Oprah Winfrey due to her story. Oprah Winfrey interested me because of her upbringing and how she became the woman she is today. Born into poverty, Oprah came from a difficult childhood; her unmarried parents separated and she grew up with her grandmother, then was sent to live with her mother and two half-brothers in a poor and dangerous neighbourhood, and was repeatedly sexually abused by male relatives and friends of her mother who she thought she trusted. Following that, she was sent to live with her father at 12. This was perhaps the turning point in her childhood and Oprah says her father saved her life. The challenges Oprah has had to overcome, further my interest in learning more about her.

Oprah Winfrey was born into poverty and had a rough upbringing. Although I cannot connect to her in that specific way, we share a similarity of what we want to do in the world. Oprah Winfrey is very influential and inspires many people around the world. Although I may not have the drive to become an actress, talk show host, or television producer, I have a passion for inspiring others and Oprah exemplifies the type of person I strive to become. Oprah Winfrey is passionate about what she does, is extremely hardworking, and has a knack for creativity. I feel that I am hardworking, passionate about my interests, and coming up with new ideas is something I enjoy. Oprah also pushes outside her comfort zone, stays persistent through failure, and has a specific focus. I aspire to emulate Oprah’s determination and selflessness in all she does.

I believe that Oprah exemplifies my goals in TALONS to a large degree as most of her qualities and traits are what I want to work on and get better at doing. This includes staying persistent throughout failure and taking on challenges that come my way, working hard on all my projects and assignments, and pushing outside my comfort zone. Oprah not only exemplifies my goals in TALONS but also the person I want to be outside of an educational standpoint.

Barriers that may cause a block in connecting to Oprah Winfrey includes class, religious faith, and geography. Oprah is a multi-billionaire and very wealthy, and I am privileged and financially stable. Although there is a difference, I don’t feel as it’s a big deal because Oprah had to work hard to become wealthy. I was raised financially stable and in a privileged household while Oprah was born into poverty and in a financially unstable home. There was a point in her life where Oprah was in my situation and this is a key thing to address in my speech. Oprah was raised a Baptist and I am not religious. I live in Canada while Oprah’s main residence is located in California. I don’t believe this poses as a major barrier, because geographically we both live in North America.

Oprah Winfrey uses her position to inspire, educate, and empower people all over the world. Some say she is the most influential woman in the world. Some of her many accomplishments include The Oprah Winfrey Show 1986-2011,  her television network, and countless magazine covers. She has been a talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Oprah is the chairwoman and CEO of Harpo Productions and The Oprah Winfrey Network. Winfrey is featured in TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people list, she has co-authored five books, and she started a school to educate and develop leadership skills for young women in South Africa. From being born into extreme poverty to self-made billionaire, Oprah Winfrey has made a positive impact in this generation and continues to do so. I feel that Oprah will be remembered in 50 years, due to all of her contributions to the world.

Oprah has gone through economic hardship, sexual abuse at a young age, to becoming pregnant at 14 then losing her first child. Most of her challenges and obstacles were faced in her childhood. Oprah also lost two loved ones; her brother and sister. She got through these challenges by remaining positive through it all. She pushed through by believing that there is light at the end of the tunnel and staying selfless no matter what she was going through. Oprah was hired as a prime-time news anchor and after the network failed, she was blamed. Although she recognized her “failures” she never gave up and let that get in the way of her success. Oprah wants to inspire others through her story and what she has accomplished and she fears confrontation from others.

My goal for the next step in my research is to read one of her books and watch videos of her speeches to gain more insight and a further understanding on who Oprah is and what she wants to do in the world. By doing so, I want to come up with a creative way of displaying her story in my learning centre.