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Rags To Riches Story of Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Gail Winfrey, the billionaire TV host, actress, and author, is known as one of the wealthiest individuals in the US. But before she landed this spot, she went through a tough road.

At present, Winfrey has a net worth of $3 billion, and her rags-to-riches story is commonly used by everyone as their inspiration that there are indeed brighter days ahead. She had to use potato sacks during her childhood since her family doesn’t have enough money to buy clothes. However, her perseverance, commitment, and talent led her to become a huge media mogul and morning talk show queen.

Childhood upbringing

Born and raised by a teenage house-help Vernita Lee in an impoverished Kosciusko community, Oprah spent more time with her maternal grandmother. She experienced a very strict upbringing, which consisted of constant beatings.

At the age of six, she stayed with her mom at a Milwaukee boarding house and usually slept on the porch. Winfrey was public about this part of her life that she was physically abused that lasted for years. When she lived with her father in Tennessee, Oprah considered this the turning point of her existence.

Her father guided her through education and personal life, providing the appropriate life structure. While in senior high school, Winfrey landed her first broadcasting job in a local radio station as a part-time newsreader. By 1971, she studied at Tennessee State University and was recognized as Nashville’s first black female newscaster and the youngest news anchor in the station.

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Oprah Winfrey, a billionaire and media mogul

Talk Show host

In 1976, Winfrey moved to Baltimore and worked for ABC as a news reporter. However, she realized the reporting style, which is plain and goal-focused, doesn’t interest her. Thus, she took the co-hosting stint for a local TV show, People Are Talking. Even if it was a huge hit, Oprah’s breakthrough as a host was in 1984, after moving to Chicago.

She hosted AM Chicago for a couple of months and eventually became the Oprah Winfrey Show. Since then, it was America’s favorite and number TV show, which earned millions of viewers every week.


Harpo Productions is the first company that Winfrey owned, which also bought her famous TV show’s rights. In 2011, she introduced the Oprah Winfrey Network, which she also runs as CEO. Winfrey’s involvement in the entertainment industry didn’t stop there. She later co-founded a TV network, Oxygen media, became a producer for several movies in ABC, and wrote a couple of books. Indeed her talent was immense.

Of course, she became an actress and starred in one of Steven Spielberg’s masterpieces, The Color Purple. This was Oprah’s breakthrough role as an actress where she played Sofia, the housewife who was severely beaten by her husband and eventually managed to escape from him.

Philanthropic affairs

As a woman who started from nothing, Winfrey heavily supports a plethora of charities and is an advocate speaker of child abuse. She made generous contributions to academic-related initiatives. She received and was recognized several awards for her numerous philanthropic affairs, such as the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in Emmy Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 by the past President Barack Obama.

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Riley Brown
Written By

Riley is a finance, lifestyle, and entertainment writer living in San Diego. He received his bachelor's degree in Journalism and Multimedia from the University of Oregon. His work has been featured in many finance and lifestyle publications throughout the US. When he is not writing, Riley enjoys reading and hanging out at the beach with his dog.

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