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Oprah Winfrey: From Rags To Riches
Transcript of Oprah Winfrey: From Rags To Riches
After Oprah was born, her mother, Vernita Lee, traveled north and left Oprah behind to live with her grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee. Oprah stayed with her poor grandmother the first six years of her life. During this time, Oprah lived in poverty and wore dresses made from potato sacks to school because her grandmother could not afford actual clothes.
When Winfrey was six years old, she moved with her mother to an inner-city neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During this time, her mother had given birth to another daughter, Patricia. After two years, Lee started experiencing difficulties raising both children so she sent Oprah to live with her thought-to-be-father, Vernon Winfrey, in Nashville. While Winfrey was living with her "father" her mom had another daughter, who she put up for adoption, and a son.
It'll All Be Over . . . Soon.
Though I've often heard of the hardships and triumphs of Oprah, it wasn't until I took the time to read that I've truly grown an appreciation for her. She is a pillar for African-Americans and people everywhere. If she can do it - anyone can!
Florida Virtual School (FLVS) Economics, Summer 2013
Marquise McGriff, Senior - Turner Tech HS
Ms. Carrie Wilkinson, Instructor
"Oprah" was born as Orpah Gail Winfrey on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi.
If You Can't Beat'em, Join'em.
Her mother named her after a biblical character mentioned in the Book of Ruth. People usually mispronounced her name and eventually she just stuck with "Oprah."
"A genetic test in 2006 determined that her maternal line originated among the Kpelle ethnic group, in the area that today is Liberia. Her genetic makeup was determined to be 89% Sub-Saharan African, 8% Native American, and 3% East Asian; however, the East Asian may, given the imprecisions of genetic testing, actually be Native American markers."
On a 1986 episode of her TV show, Oprah announced that when she was younger she was molested by her cousin, uncle, and family friend, starting when she was nine years old. After 4 years of the continuous abuse, Oprah ran away from home. Shortly after her "hiatus," she gave birth to a son who died shortly after.
Winfrey has stated that she chose to not be a mother because growing up, she had not been "mothered well."
Bad . . . Good Oprah?
After Oprah started misbehaving, her mother sent her to live with her father. This time - for good! Vernon was very strict on Oprah, but encouraging. Her education was his top concern.
While living with her father, Winfrey became an Honors Student and placed second in the nation in dramatic interpretation while on her school's speech team. Winfrey went on to win an oratory contest which won her a full scholarship to Tennessee State University.
It's Getting Better All The Time!
At age 17, the local black radio station (WVOL) hired Oprah as the first female news anchor at Nashville's WLAC-TV. This laid the foundation for her many radio jobs that would follow until her debut of her TV Talk Show, "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
"Arguably the world's most powerful woman." -CNN
"Arguably the most influential woman in the world." -The American Spectator
"One of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th Century." -TIME
Ranked as the World's Most Powerful Celebrity in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2010 by Forbes.
"She has more credibility than the president." -Columnist Maureen Dowd
"In 2010, Life magazine named Winfrey one of the 100 people who changed the world, alongside such luminaries as Jesus Christ, Elvis Presley and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Winfrey was the only living to make the list."
By 2012, Oprah had given away about $400 million to educational causes and 400 scholarships to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 2013, Winfrey donated $12 million to the Smithsonian's Nat'l Museum of African American History and Culture.
From Rags To Riches
Oprah's career choice in media would not have surprised her late grandmother who always knew Oprah's passion for the stage.
Oprah majored in communication which paved the way for her passion of the stage.
It was Oprah's grandmother who encouraged her to speak in public and in her words, "gave me a positive sense of myself."
Underestimate the Barriers
Oprah's scholarship to Tennessee State University helped her overcome her financial barriers. Without it, the world wouldn't know the Oprah we've come to know and love.
At age 17, Winfrey won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant. Through this pageant she was discovered by WVOL. Through her work with WVOL she began networking with other radio stations which became the stepping stones for her climb to success. Throughout her career, Oprah has interviewed many celebrities such as Michael Jackson, and contributed to many charities which has expanded not just her wealth but credibility and reputation.
Take the First Step
In 1983, Oprah went out on a ledge and relocated to Chicago to host WLS-TV's low-rated morning talk show, "AM Chicago." Within months the show went from last place in ratings to overtaking "Donahue" as Chicago's highest rated talk show.
Harness Your Vision