Name: Oprah Gail Winfrey
Born: January 29, 1954
Occupation: Talk Show host, Actress, Producer and Philanthropist
Net worth: 2.9 billion USD (Forbes 2016)
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”
“Turn your Wounds to Wisdom.”
Some award-winning celebrities were born with a silver spoon; inheriting the fame and fortune of the family, putting in little effort and arriving at their destination with little or no stress.
However, some others had to go through the roughest-toughest paths, encounter numerous trials and failures, and go through the hardest struggles before achieving their dreams.
We tend to be inspired and given strength to persevere when we come across the success stories of such celebrities who started from nothing and made it to the very top as a result sheer hard work and perseverance.
Here, therefore, is the story of the African-American media mogul, Oprah Winfrey, who hailed from a poverty-stricken family, encountered the worst of childhoods and still made her way to massive success.
Young Winfrey was given birth to by single Vernita Lee, who worked as a maid for households in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Winfrey’s biological father, Vernon Winfrey, was a retired miner working as a barber at the point, and he lived in Tennessee.
After Winfrey’s parents separated, little Winfrey was sent to live with her grandmother, Hattie Mai (Presley) Lee, in her farm in Kosciusko, rural Mississippi.
There, Winfrey had to grow up in the dark phase of life. News had it that Winfrey wore dresses made of potato sacks. Unless they were to starve, it was impossible to squeeze the cost of her clothing into the family’s expenditure.
Despite the abject poverty, Hattie Mai strived and gave little Winfrey the best life she could offer. She also taught Winfrey the basic things of life: how to read and write. Hattie Mai brought up little Winfrey to be a well-cultured girl with a mature mindset.
Winfrey in her early years took strict Hattie Mai as a role model and source of motivation. Hattie Mai made little Winfrey take part in community and Church events.
At the age six, after Hattie Mai fell ill, Winfrey reunited with her mother and moved in with her to a boarding house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In Milwaukee, no doubt, Winfrey was able to distinguish living a poor happy life from a poor, harsh, and emotionally draining life. Together with the poor financial status and parental care, Winfrey had to endure a series of physical and sexual assault for as long as four years. Vernita Lee was a full-time housemaid. She barely had time for little Winfrey. This, in turn, got Winfrey prone to the evil her family and family friends had in stall for her.
At the age of nine, Winfrey who was still trying to adapt fully to the new environment in Wisconsin, get a proper education, and have the opportunity of correcting her poverty-stricken life was deflowered by a rape from her nineteen-year-old cousin. One can only imagine the pain and agony went through by Winfrey from losing her virginity from a rape. As if this wasn’t hurtful enough to a little nine-year-old girl, her uncle and a family friend also took turns in the act, leaving little Winfrey in a helpless state of emotional trauma with no one to confide in. The filthy assault from grown men to a little girl lasted between the ages of nine and thirteen.
After four years of enduring endless molestation and pain, the already sexually corrupted little Winfrey couldn’t take it anymore; she couldn’t bear to live a poverty-stricken life with an unending sexual assault anymore. The little thirteen-year-old girl bravely broke free by running away from home. She ran to her dad, Vernon Winfrey, who lived in Tennessee for rescue. Little Winfrey probably already had a huge grudge against men in general by this time. However, she felt fatherly love for the first time after she was welcomed by the warm embrace of her dad.
Although she finally was able to escape, the deed had been done. A few months later, little Winfrey conceived and bore a male child. However, she lost the baby in infancy. The little girl who already underwent the pain of motherhood had to suffer another devastating pain and agony of losing a child as a result.
At this point, with the help of her dad, Winfrey is free from it all: free from the pain and emotional trauma, and finally able to attain a proper college degree, live her dreams and support her family. She knew it was a rare opportunity and she was willing to embrace it with open arms and offer all she got.
With Vernon’s affection and strict disciplinarian attitude towards Winfrey, her hard work, and determination, together with her outspoken and bold personality developed through the Church and community events, It was only a matter of time before Winfrey made her way through the big screen.
Winfrey on arriving in Tennessee was immediately enrolled in East Nashville High School. With her dedication, endless effort, and struggle to succeed at will, Winfrey became the most popular student in East Nashville and won so many awards — this includes the Miss Black beauty pageant of black Tennessee. This offered her an on-air job at the African-American Tennessee radio station and a full scholarship to study in Tennessee state university.
Being fully aware of her outspoken personality, Winfrey decided to major in speech communication and performing arts. As of this time, Winfrey’s life began brightening up. At the age of nineteen, her talent for presenting and TV hosting was already perceived by many.
On getting to college, Winfrey combined her on-air job at the radio station with her studies. However, after a few years in college, she left to pursue her media dreams. She then relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, where she became a full-time broadcaster.
Thinking it was all beginning to fall in place, Winfrey once again suffered sexual harassment and was eventually fired from her workplace. However, knowing fully well that she was surely going to pull through no matter how bad it gets, it only took her a little while to bounce back up this time.
At age thirty, Winfrey was employed in a Chicago live morning TV talk show, AM Chicago. The talk show which initially had a really poor viewing rate was rebranded by Winfrey’s unmatched TV hosting skill.
Winfrey turned the talk show to one of the best and most viewed talk shows of the 20th century with over 30 million American viewers. The show was then broadcasted in over 144 countries worldwide. Due to Winfrey’s impact on the show, the show was later renamed after her as The Oprah Winfrey Show, making Winfrey the first black woman to own a talk show.
Ambitiously talented Winfrey never relented. She went further to prove herself as equal to the task by also creating a spiritual live TV channel, Change Your Life TV, which attracted over 22 million female viewers.
Today, aside from being a TV host and presenter, Oprah Winfrey is the founder of the Oprah Magazine and The Oprah Radio. She is the co-founder of Oxygen Media. Winfrey also partnered with Discovery Communications to launch her own cable channel, The Oprah Winfrey Network.
Winfrey has given millions of dollars to charity foundations such as The Angel Network, and The Oprah Winfrey Foundation.
Winfrey flies in her customized Bombardier Global Express XRS VIP business jet; the jet is worth $42 million.
Winfrey’s private jet
Winfrey has her own street: the blocks in front of Harpo Studios, Chicago, was renamed to The Oprah Winfrey Way by Mayor Richard Daley (Harpo Studios is where the Oprah Winfrey Show was filmed).
Currently, Winfrey resides in her $28.85 million home in Montecito, CA, which occupies 23.65 acres of land.
Winfrey’s home in Montecito, CA.
Today, Forbes estimates Winfrey’s net worth at $2.9 billion, and she is the only black woman on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in America.
Winfrey’s success story is an ideal example of rags to riches. With her story in line, it’s clearly seen that one’s starting point should never determine the finish line.
Winfrey went from being a poor, physically and sexually abused little girl who wore potato sacks, to an internationally recognized media mogul and billionaire.
You might be having a poverty-stricken life today, or you might be at a terrifying spot in your entrepreneurial journey; one thing is certain — few years to come, your success story can be used to inspire generations if only you persevere and remain steadfast.
Endeavor to never let trials and circumstances permanently weigh you down; always rise back up and chase your dreams. Let your will to succeed always triumph over fear and failure. Like Winfrey said, The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams. Take that adventure!
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