Real Time Net Worth As of 2/27/16
Actress, Director/Producer, Entrepreneur, Personality, Philanthropist
|Source of Wealth||TV shows, Self-Made|
|Marital Status||In Relationship|
|Education||Bachelor of Arts / Science, Tennessee State University|
Billionaire Oprah Winfrey is best known for hosting her own internationally popular talk show from 1986 to 2011. She is also an actress, philanthropist, publisher and producer.
The media giant Oprah Winfrey was born in the rural town of Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954. In 1976, Winfrey moved to Baltimore, where she hosted a hit television talk show, People Are Talking. The show became a hit and Winfrey stayed with it for eight years, after which she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show, A.M. Chicago.
Oprah’s major competitor in that time slot was Phil Donahue. Within several months, Winfrey's open and warm-hearted personal style had won her 100,000 more viewers than Donahue and had taken her show from last place to first in the ratings. She later became the host of her own, wildly popular program, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 seasons, from 1986 to 2011. That same year, Winfrey launched her own TV network, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
After a troubled adolescence in a small farming community, where she was sexually abused by a number of male relatives and friends of her mother, Vernita, she moved to Nashville to live with her father, Vernon, a barber and businessman. She entered Tennessee State University in 1971 and began working in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville.
Her success led to nationwide fame and a role in Steven Spielberg's 1985 film The Color Purple, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Winfrey launched the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986 as a nationally syndicated program.
With its placement on 120 channels and an audience of 10 million people, the show grossed $125 million by the end of its first year, of which Winfrey received $30 million.
She soon gained ownership of the program from ABC, drawing it under the control of her new production company, Harpo Productions ('Oprah' spelled backwards).
Activism and Charities
According to Forbes magazine, Oprah was the richest African American of the 20th century and the world's only Black billionaire for three years running. Life magazine hailed her as the most influential woman of her generation.
In 2005, Business Week named her the greatest Black philanthropist in American history. Oprah's Angel Network has raised more than $51,000,000 for charitable programs, including girls' education in South Africa and relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Winfrey is a dedicated activist for children's rights; in 1994, President Clinton signed a bill into law that Winfrey had proposed to Congress, creating a nationwide database of convicted child abusers.
She founded the Family for Better Lives foundation and also contributes to her alma mater, Tennessee State University. In September 2002, Oprah was named the first recipient of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Bob Hope Humanitarian Award.
Winfrey campaigned for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama in December 2007, attracting the largest crowds of the primary season to that point. Winfrey joined Obama for a series of rallies in the early primary/caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. It was the first time Winfrey had ever campaigned for a political candidate.
The biggest event was at the University of South Carolina football stadium, where 29,000 supporters attended a rally that had been switched from an 18,000 seat basketball arena to satisfy public demand.
"Dr. (Martin Luther) King dreamed the dream. But we don't have to just dream the dream anymore," Oprah told the crowd. "We get to vote that dream into reality by supporting a man who knows not just who we are, but who we can be." The power of Winfrey's political endorsement was unclear (Obama won Iowa and South Carolina, but lost New Hampshire).
But she has a clear track record of turning unknown authors into blockbuster best-sellers when she mentions their books on her TV show.
After The Oprah Winfrey Show ended on September 9, 2011, Oprah has remained in the rapidly shifting and converging media field through The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which launched on January 1, 2011.
In November 2013, Winfrey received the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Barack Obama gave her this award for her contributions to her country.
Since 1992, Winfrey has been engaged to Stedman Graham, a public relations executive. The couple lives in Chicago, and Winfrey also has homes in Montecito, California, Rolling Prairie, Indiana, and Telluride, Colorado.
Oprah Winfrey, long-reigning queen of daytime TV has proven she can thrive without a talk show. Defying critics, ratings of her four-year old cable network, OWN, are soaring thanks in part to a handful of collaborations with director Tyler Perry including drama 'The Haves and the Have Nots' and soap opera 'If Loving You Is Wrong'.
She co-produced the critical darling Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic "Selma", and also had a small role as civil rights activist Annie Lee Cooper.
Oprah Winfrey's name carries weight in the marketplace. Weight Watchers has been named the number one diet program by U.S. News and World Report. The merge of these two entities should be epic. However, their collaboration has not gained the momentum expected of it.
Oprah’s venture with Weight Watchers is not fairing as well as her other protégés, like Dr. Oz, Steve Harvey, and The Law of Attraction movement, nicknamed “The Secret.”
For the last few years, Weight Watchers has taken huge financial hits. In 2014, about 800,000 people attended Weight Watchers meetings, which is a decline from its 1.3 million in 2013.
In the first half of 2015, sales were down nearly 22 percent and profits down almost 50 percent, CNN Money reported.
Weight Watchers International has more competitors than Jenny Craig and Quick Weight Loss in today’s marketplace. They have more mobile and digital based competition that offers lower prices without the inconvenience of weekly meetings. With Lose It, a mobile app Nike Run, and Fitbit trackers, many people are taking a different weight loss approach.
The company has solicited celebrities in the past, such as Jennifer Hudson and Jessica Simpson, to represent the company publically. The concept created buzz with their followers, urging them to continue with Weight Watchers.
After strategic planning, the company solicited mogul Oprah Winfrey as the next big face of Weight Watchers. In October 2015, Winfrey put her public stamp of approval on the weight loss program. Weight Watchers announced in the same month that Winfrey would make a $43.5 million investment for a 10 percent stake in the company and a chair on their board of directors.
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