Oprah Winfrey was the richest African-American of the 20th century. Her media career started as early as high school. She started at WVOL, a local radio station, reading the news. Later during college she was offered a job as co-anchor on the CBS television station. Later a boss of hers set her up to host a morning talk show called “People Are Talking”. After the first show she knew that this was what she wanted to do for the remainder of her life. She hosted this morning talk show for seven years, and then moved on.
She soon got offered a job in Chicago for a new show, that if she accepted, the were to call “The Oprah Winfrey Show." Her first broadcast was on September 8, 1986. In the beginning her show targeted women, but it soon became obvious that all kinds of people were interested in the topics she discussed. She spoke about controversial issues, movies, books, and more. Everybody wanted Oprah’s opinion on everything. She has received several awards for her show, including 10 daytime Emmys and An Emmy Lifetime Acheivement award. She continued to expande her network by releasing a magazine called O: The Oprah Magazine. Her final episode was on May 25, 2011, after airing for 25 years!
Oprah made her debut as an actress in 1985, in the movie The Color Purple. She has also taken part in the movies Beloved, Charlotte’s Web, Bee Movie, and The Princess And The Frog.
So how has Oprah Winfrey influenced America with this great success? She has transformed talk shows, and has taught people accept those who are different from themselves.
Oprah has revolutionized the genre of talk shows. She made topics that are normally very private, very public. She explained to her audience that we should celebrate our differences whether it be race, color, gender, or sexual orientation.
Oprah “changed the nature of journalism” (McNamara), when she came out and said that she had been sexually abused in 1987. She continued her talk show and focused on therapeutic and inspiring themes, that were aimed to help people find their best selves.
Her message of self-transformation resonated with America because of her network. She now has had a talk show, magazine and a book club. And she most recently created a network called OWN (more in a later post!).