Orpah Gail Winfrey (born January 29, 1954), better known as Oprah Winfrey, is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Dubbed the “Queen of All Media” she has been ranked the richest African-American. the greatest black philanthropist in American history. and is currently North America’s first and only multi-billionaire black person.
(Credit on Bio Wikipedia on google)
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Queen Oprah A Billionaire Business of her OWN
“You run your own race better than anybody” ~ Oprah Winfrey
“If you take your time to see what everybody else is doing, you lose your ground” ~ Oprah Winfrey
“I can be a better me than be a better anybody else so I don’t try to compare myself with other people (once I got that, we hit our own rhythm and discovered it wasn’t just a show, but that it was a platform, in which to speak to the world that was back in 1989). Then, what do you want to say to the world, how do you want to be used and not have the TV use you, but how do I want to use it?”
What drives Oprah to work even harder than before, when she’s supposed to be relaxing a lot more while she’s in her 60’s aging gracefully? Oprah says, “I understand there is a common denominator in the human experience, I want the same thing everyone else wants. We all want to be able to live out the truest, highest expression of ourselves as a human being. That doesn’t’ end until you take your last breadth. What is the truest highest vision that you hold for yourself? No matter where you are in your life, there’s always the next level, to the last breadth.”
Oprah always knew that she would be done with the show and felt she said all she could say on her shows platform, then next how will she be used. She has a theme song to her life, one being keep on using me until you use me up. She feels that until you have used your value as a human being, you’re not done.
What is her most achieved and proud moments she’s most proud of?
Her school in South Africa just celebrated their 10th anniversary, 10 graduations to attend in 2017 she feels this will be her greatest legacy. Her dear friend the late and great Maya Angelou told her, “You have no idea what your greatest legacy will be because your greatest legacy is every life you have touched.” This shifted Oprah’s whole idea about legacy on what you leave behind and the things you do. It’s really what you do every day, it’s how you use your light to be a light to somebody else. It’s how you use your work as an expression of your own art whatever that is. This woman in Ann Arbor simply said something to her that she just don’t know anything better than what this woman said, “Oprah watching you be yourself every day, makes me want to be myself every day.”
Someone else said to her in the bathroom, “You know I watched you all these years, and you did so much for me.” She would stop people and ask them on the show, “So tell me what is it that move you, why do you love the show?” One woman said, “You helped me to be more of myself.”
Oprah was poor with no running water or electricity. She was living with an outhouse and was shoveled back and forth with family members. She realized that she had some pretty good skills in kindergarten, her grandmother had taught her how to read bible verses. By the time she was 6 years of age she got shoveled to Milwaukee where she didn’t spend not one day in a segregated school so she never had that moment to be conditioned to believe that she was less than anybody. She didn’t know why everyone was writing their ABC’s so she wrote to her kindergarten teacher Ms. New, a letter and I said to her, “Ms. New, I do not belong here. Because I know a lot of big words.” She proceeded to write all the big words from the bible she knew like, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Nehemiah and Jeremiah, Hippopotamus just because.
Oprah’s first name came from a biblical source, “Orpah” which was misspelled the first day of school then it was spelled that way. It’s on her birth certificate as “Orpah.” When she came to Baltimore someone from the studio she worked with said that they are going to have to do something about her name because nobody will remember it or know how to pronounce it. Her challenge to change her name brought her to deciding to keep her name. She was started out with a campaign, “What is an Oprah?” trying to explain to people how to pronounce the name.
She attended college at Tennessee and worked briefly in the Tennessee broadcasting operation and then was recruited to go to Baltimore where she initially wen to be an anchor woman which didn’t quite work out. She was fired / demoted as she say’s but was able to get an afternoon show. Once she was demoted, they did not want to pay out her contract of 25,000.00 per year, so they kept her on and placed her on a talk show to run out the contract.
Many times, Oprah feels getting demoted is an opportunity for something else to show up. She was very empathetic and always getting written up for getting herself involved in other people’s business. Then she made 22,000.00 a year where she met her best friend Gayle who was also working at the station. Oprah is 62 today and she’s glad it didn’t work out.
Oprah moves her life in instinct and when she’s grown as much as she can grow in that space, then that’s her time to move on and she began feeling like, it was time for her to move someplace else. She moved to NY where she felt it was too crowded and hard to get around though it was the number one market and everybody wanted to come to NY. She said her agent that she just want to be a substitute for Joan London when she goes on vacation and maybe she wants to take a break. Her agent said to her, “That’s never going to happen, because they already got one black person.” Oprah responded, “Really?” Her agent sad, “Yes, Brian Gumbel.” Oprah said, “It’s on the wrong station, he’s on another station so maybe they will take one more…” but her agent said, “No it’s not going to work out.” So Oprah let that agent go and she ended up going to Chicago because she was on someone else audition tape. Denis Swanson saw Oprah on one of her producers tape and wanted to know if she was interested in doing a job in Chicago and that’s how it happened.
It was an existing show but Oprah took over and became popular and they changed the shows name to her name because people started to call it, “The Oprah Show.” Everybody but Gayle said to her, “You’re going to fail in Chicago because you will be going up against Phil Donahue. “ Oprah said it didn’t matter to her because she didn’t think he was beatable. She actually said this to her boss Dennis Swanson, and Dennis said to Oprah, “We know you can’t beat him so, don’t worry about it, and just be yourself.” She felt that saved her and she was able to beat Phil. She said Phil was so gracious and she said to him, “If there had not been a Phil Donahue, there couldn’t have been an Oprah Show.” He paved the way for that kind of audience like smart woman, some working at home, going back into the workforce in the mid 80’s when she started her show and there were moms who were interested in talking about meaningful and purposeful things. She says Phil opened that door.
In Oprah’s eyes she never thought or realized that her show was better than anybody else but what she do think she have that is really uniquely her own is her ability to connect to the audience because her skill comes not from her interviewing ability, her skill comes from her listening ability and her skill comes from her knowing fundamentally inside herself that she isn’t any different that the audience. What gave her the power in the seat, and the power with the microphone, was that she always saw herself as the surrogate for the audience. She asked people questions that she wouldn’t normally ask, she’s ask some rally embarrassing questions not because she wanted to know the answers, but because she thought the audience wanted to know. By doing this she said, she put herself in a bad situation when she Sally Fields was dating Burt Reynolds, she asked Sally, “Did Burt sleep with his toupee on?” So she would never do that today. She was getting pushed by the producers saying, people want to know, people want to know! Sally shut down and Oprah saw that Sally was embarrassed by that question and she never got another thing from Sally. Oprah thought that was wrong and she learned from that experience.
Following that she got an opportunity to do, “The Color Purple.” She never wanted anything more and anything since as much as she wanted the color purple. She read the book and seen the reviews in the NY Times so, she heard that they were going to be doing a movie and she auditioned for it only because Quincy Jones was going to Chicago, her little show as she puts it they were looking for actresses and at the time, she didn’t know Quincy personally. He was getting ready for a deposition about Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, and just showered taking the red eye in Chicago and sees her show and said, I think that girl can be in this movie and he had his people call her people and she was praying to be in this movie and she gets the call. She was in her office and the asked if she would be in a movie called, “Moon Song” and she wasn’t praying to be in a movie with that name, she was praying for a movie called, “Color Purple.”
At that time “Moon Song” was the Color Purple because Steven Spielberg didn’t want anyone to know he was doing the movie so she went and auditioned and got the part. She was nominated for an Academy Award which didn’t win but Oprah jokingly said, it’s okay because her butt wouldn’t have fit and she wouldn’t have been able to get out of the chair anyway.
Her network OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) is a joint venture between Oprah and the Discovery Channel. She was still doing her show and they said, let’s start a network that didn’t go as well as she’d like, she said, it was a mess in the beginning, but she finished out her show and things turned out pretty well. They have some really great and successful shows on OWN, Oprah partnered with Ava Dubane (oops pardon me if I spelled or pronounced her name wrong) to create the drama series, “Queen Sugar,” “Green Leaf” and this is as she say’s the next level for her.
Oprah said, every day for 25 year she was a story teller to let people get their stories out to the world in a way that enhanced them or help them see themselves differently or however it showed up for them. Now she gets to use the platform for drama, particularity black African American actors/actresses where people could see themselves in a way that shows us as people of value. Also as people who care about everything everybody else cares about. The one thing Oprah was always trying to do with all of her work on the Oprah Winfrey show particularly was to let people see what Maya Angelou hallways’ said, “We really are more alike than we are different.” She say’s when you get into somebody’s home and you sit around somebody’ kitchen table, I don’t care who you are, or what your kitchen table looks like, or how many square feet you have, that the feelings are the same, that we find our deepest humanity at that kitchen table and when you and I look in your house or your house which I used to do on the Oprah Show, I used to love going into people’s houses wondering what they’re doing or dropping in for dinner like, Hey!
Oprah moved from Chicago to the west coast which wasn’t’ hard for her at all because she’s good at not holding onto what was and being able to live in this present moment. She was never afraid to tell her age like some woman, or you’re trying to be something you’re not. She thinks for everything there is a time and a season. The bible she say’s completely writes about that and you know in yourself when it’s time to move from that. She shares her memories of her and Gayle going through the building last year 2016, and Oprah didn’t feel sad though her longtime friend Gayle did. Oprah feels a great since of pride because she thinks that what they were able to do with that show everyday sitting in the heart of America allowing people to see the best and sometimes the worst of themselves through their neighbors and dysfunction and ideas that we brought to them, but I am just proud of the work and she realized, it’s time to let that go. The only thing that was hard for Oprah was when the building came down. She sold the building which was like a campus, 5 buildings which someone insta-gramed it and then she had a moment.
Oprah maintained a friendship with Gayle since Baltimore when they were just 21 and 22. The girls at Oprah’s school calls her Antie Gayle and her Mom O. She say’s to the girls, “You all wish to have a friend like Antie Gayle, you want to have a friend who wants the most, the best and the highest for you.”
She said she’s never seen anyone like Gayle, for those of you that are on the horizon for your career, your friends may say their all happy for you, but not everybody’s happy for you. Every now and then you can hear just a tiny bit of jealousy you can hear it and you can sense it. She’s never had a moment’s jealousy from Gayle in the thirty odd years accept for the one time I was on stage dancing with Tina Turner. That’s only time she heard Gayle say, “I wish that was me.”
Oprah has been very public about her weight and she shared that weight watchers called her up and she wanted to let that work for her. She doesn’t do anything that feels truthful or organic so, they asked her to be a spokesperson and she told them that she’d never been on the program. She always thought that people had to count points and she don’t know those people, but the fact that weight watchers was calling her which was a sign that said, “Let us help you.” She didn’t’ just want to be a spokesperson but she did what she always do and that was to find out how can she OWN a piece of it because she says since the days of the Oprah Whinfrey show, the biggest and greatest thing to do for herself given the past and what had happened was to OWN it and because her bosses had given her a really hard time when she was doing, the color purple they said to her, “You only have 2 weeks’ vacation.” She wanted to do the color purple more than anything in her whole life so she said, “I will give up my entire 2 weeks’ vacation, fi you will just let me do the movie.” Her attorney Jeff Jacobs told Oprah, “You never want to be in that position again where you have to give up yourself, give up your life.” The contract negotiation came around, the second time Oprah asked, what if she owned the show and they don’t pay her unless the show makes money? And we make money together so let’s split it. She approaches everything that way if she’s going to be of value to people, it should also be of value to myself.
Oprah is the CEO of her OWN company and has thousands of people working for her. It’s hard for her to say “NO” but she gets other people to say no for her. It’s hard for her because she grew up girl raised in the south, wanting and needing to please everybody. It took her along time to get that lesson of only saying “yes” to what you intend to say yes too. She tries to do her business and personal decisions based upon her intention.
Oprah’s philanthropic spirit is giving. She believes that you can try to spend all the money you make though making Billions you can’t spend it all, at least it’s tough to but you can have a really good time trying. She’s the largest Donner to Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC which she agreed to being on the board 13 years ago because she believe that you are nowhere in life unless you know where you come from and that understanding the true root of what has been paved for you is necessary for a people to move forward. She wanted to leave that legacy for generations to come particularly for African American children and people of all races and what that meant to America. She don’t have a staff but she do have a foundation and nobody tells her what to do. She don’t pay any attention to those who come at her saying, “I need money for this or for that.” She admits that in the beginning she used to because she was so overwhelmed and couldn’t figure out when your salaries published in the paper how much you make and everybody knows it so, you can no longer say, “I don’t have it.” She could not figure it out, people were leaning homes, leaving their husbands coming to see her, and she had people standing outside her door in Chicago. She then received lots of advice on what she should do and now she only do what she intend to do that comes from what is important to her. Helping girls because she was a poor girl and she knows what that feels like so she gives back to an entire community so saving girls around the world is really important to Oprah and educating girls and woman and empowering girls and woman because she is one herself feels like a natural thing.
Oprah had no politicians on her show until Barack Obama was invited on her show and she went against what she said she would not do by having politician guests on her show. She said we’d be stunned if she knew what it would cost her or was it the right thing to do by having Barack on her show. She said she did it because she felt compelled to do it, she felt in the time she saw him back in 2004 at the convention in Chicago and she’d seen him as Senator around and she was at home alone and thought, He’s going to be president someday and she hope she was around to help him do it. She said to Barack in 2004-2005 when you run for president let her know. She had the Legends Ball in 2005 at her house to thank the woman who paved the way for her, and young ins to help her thank them and Barack came and spoke to them and she told everybody that he was going to be president someday and she will quit her job and do whatever is necessary to help him get there. People were asking her, “What was his name again?” She received criticism and when she was invited to the White House a house that was built by slaves and she helped to get Barack elected, her first experience going into the White House was as she say, indescribable and there are actually no words that can … it wasn’t the same as inaugural night, it was kind of surreal and seeing the past presidents and leaders who were all white, it was surreal.
As far as running for president when asked would she run for President being as there have never been a woman President, would she run? She said she never considere3d the question of even a possibility. But now she’s thinking “Oh.” She said that won’t be happening.
Her highest priorities is Own developing and her magazine. She will continue acting and developing shows that speak to humanity in a way that makes theme want to do better and that they are important in the world and her show was like therapy for her. She don’t like attention but one of the thing she started to get is that all her guest would say something to her is that okay at the end of the interview. She’s learned that at the end of the day whatever your profession and wherever you are every person you encounter or experience is, “that okay” but they were really saying, “Did you hear me?” She said she’s one of the happiest richest woman in the world.