Through the power of media, Oprah Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world. As supervising producer and host of the top-rated, award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show, she has entertained, enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers for the past two decades. Her accomplishments as a global media leader and philanthropist have established her as one of the most respected and admired public figures today.
TELEVISION PIONEER Oprah began her broadcasting career at WVOL radio in Nashville while still in high school. At the age of 19, she became the youngest person and the first African-American woman to anchor the news at Nashville’s WTVF-TV. She then relocated to Baltimore’s WJZ-TV to co-anchor the Six O’Clock News and later went on to become co-host of its local talk show, People Are Talking.
In 1984, Oprah moved to Chicago to host WLS-TV’s morning talk show, AM Chicago, which became the number one local talk show—surpassing ratings for Donahue—just one month after she began. In less than a year, the show expanded to one hour and was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. It entered national syndication in 1986, becoming the highest-rated talk show in television history. In 1988, she established Harpo Studios, a production facility in Chicago, making her the third woman in the American entertainment industry (after Mary Pickford and Lucille Ball) to own her own studio.
The Oprah Winfrey Show has remained the number one talk show for 21 consecutive seasons*. Produced by her own production company, Harpo Productions, Inc., the show is seen by an estimated 46 million viewers a week in the United States** and is broadcast internationally in 134 countries.
MAGAZINE FOUNDER AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR In April 2000, Oprah and Hearst Magazines introduced O, The Oprah Magazine, a monthly magazine that has become one of today’s leading women’s lifestyle publications. It is credited as being the most successful magazine launch in recent history and currently has a circulation of 2.3 million readers each month. In April 2002, Oprah launched the first international edition of O, The Oprah Magazine in South Africa, extending her live your best life message to another broad audience.
In 2004, O at Home, a newsstand-only quarterly shelter magazine designed to help readers create a home that reflects their personal style, made its debut.
PRODUCER/ACTRESS Through her company’s film division, Harpo Films, she has produced projects based on classic and contemporary literature that have garnered the highest industry honors for quality acting and production. Telefilms under the Oprah Winfrey Presents banner have included the award-winning Tuesdays With Morrie, based on the best-selling novel by Mitch Albom and starring Academy Award® winner Jack Lemmon and Emmy Award® winner Hank Azaria; Their Eyes Were Watching God, based on the Zora Neale Hurston novel and starring Academy Award winner Halle Berry; and Mitch Albom’s For One More Day, based on his best-selling novel and starring Emmy Award winner Michael Imperioli and Academy Award winner Ellen Burstyn.
In 1998, Harpo Films produced the critically acclaimed Beloved, a Touchstone Pictures feature film based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison, which co-starred Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover and was directed by Jonathan Demme. In late 2007, co-producers Harpo Films and The Weinstein Company will release The Great Debaters, which is directed by Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, who also stars in the film with Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker.
Oprah made her acting debut in 1985 as “Sofia” in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple, for which she received both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. She also has been lauded for her performances in the made-for-television movies Before Women Had Wings (1997), There Are No Children Here (1993), and The Women of Brewster Place (1989).
Oprah.com is a premiere women’s lifestyle website, offering advice on everything from the mind, body and spirit to food, home and relationships. It provides comprehensive resources related to The Oprah Winfrey Show, O, The Oprah Magazine and Oprah & Friends. In addition, the website has unique original content, including Oprah’s Book Club, which offers free in-depth reading guides for each book selection, online discussion groups and Q&A sessions with literary experts. Within its first year, Oprah’s Book Club quickly became the largest book club in the world, attracting approximately 1 million members. In 2003, Oprah.com also launched Live Your Best Life, an interactive multimedia workshop based on her sold-out national speaking tour that features Oprah’s personal life stories and life lessons along with a workbook of thought-provoking exercises.
Oprah.com averages 70 million page views and more than 6 million users per month and has 1.3 million newsletter subscribers.
Oprah has long believed that education is the door to freedom, offering a chance at a brighter future. Through her private charity, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, she has awarded hundreds of grants to organizations that support the education and empowerment of women, children and families in the United States and around the world. Amongst her various philanthropic contributions, she has donated millions of dollars toward providing a better education for students who have merit but no means. She also has developed schools to educate thousands of underserved children internationally and created “The Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program,” which gives scholarships to students determined to use their education to give back to their communities in the United States and abroad.
In December 2002, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation expanded its global humanitarian efforts with her ChristmasKindness South Africa 2002 initiative that included visits to orphanages and rural schools in South Africa where 50,000 children received gifts of food, clothing, athletic shoes, school supplies, books and toys. Sixty-three rural schools received libraries and teacher education.
During a December 2000 visit with Nelson Mandela, Oprah pledged to build a school in South Africa. As that commitment broadened, she established The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation, to which she has contributed more than $40 million toward the creation of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls—South Africa, which opened in January 2007. Located in a 28-building campus in Henley-on-Klip, the Leadership Academy is a state-of-the-art, independent school that engenders high standards of academic achievement and service leadership for girls from all nine South African provinces who show outstanding promise despite their impoverished backgrounds and social circumstances. Her vision is that the Leadership Academy will help develop the future women leaders of South Africa.
In a 1997 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah encouraged viewers to use their lives to make a difference in the lives of others, which led to the creation of the public charity Oprah’s Angel Network in 1998. To date, Oprah’s Angel Network has raised more than $50 million, with 100% of audience donations going to non-profit organizations across the globe. Oprah’s Angel Network has helped establish scholarships and schools, support women’s shelters and build youth centers and homes—changing the future for people all over the world.
Oprah’s commitment to children also led her to initiate the National Child Protection Act in 1991, when she testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to establish a national database of convicted child abusers. On December 20, 1993, President Clinton signed the national “Oprah Bill” into law.
In September 2002, Harpo Productions, Inc. created Dr. Phil, a syndicated daytime talk show produced by Paramount Domestic Television. Dr. Phil, which had the highest-rated talk show launch since The Oprah Winfrey Show, consistently ranks second among all U.S. talk shows.
Dynamic television personality and best-selling author Rachael Ray announced a partnership with Harpo Productions, Inc., King World Productions, and Scripps Networks to host a daily, one-hour, talk show that will begin airing in September 2006.
Slated to air in early 2008 on the ABC Television Network, Oprah’s Big Give™ is the first primetime series created by Harpo Productions, Inc’s television development group. The episodes will center on the competition, drama and emotion as millions of dollars are given away to make a difference in people’s lives across the country. Oprah’s Big Give is produced by Harpo Productions in conjunction with Profiles Television Productions, LLC.
Through a recent joint venture, Oprah announced the launch of Oprah & Friends, a new channel on XM Satellite Radio, which launched in September 2006. Oprah & Friends will feature a broad range of original daily programming from Harpo Radio, Inc., including regular segments hosted by popular personalities from The Oprah Winfrey Show and O, The Oprah Magazine and an exclusive 30-minute listener call-in weekly radio show, “Talk to Me” with Oprah Winfrey.
Twenty years after she made her movie debut as “Sofia” in The Color Purple, Oprah made her Broadway debut as a producer for the musical The Color Purple, which opened on December 1, 2005, at the Broadway Theatre in New York City.
In recognition of her extraordinary achievements and contributions, Oprah has received numerous honors, including the most prestigious awards and highest industry acknowledgments.
- Time Magazine—100 Most Influential People in the World
- The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity—2007 Humanitarian Award
- Time Magazine—100 Most Influential People in the World
- The New York Public Library—Library Lion 2006
- National Civil Rights Museum – 2005 National Freedom Award
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — Hall of Fame
- Time Magazine — 100 Most Influential People in the World
- International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences — 2005 International Emmy Founders Award
- United Nations Association of the United States of America – Global Humanitarian Action Award
- National Association of Broadcasters – Distinguished Service Award
- Time Magazine – 100 Most Influential People in the World
- Association of American Publishers – AAP Honors Award
- 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards® – Bob Hope Humanitarian Award
- Broadcasting & Cable – Hall of Fame
- National Book Foundation – 50th Anniversary Gold Medal
- National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences® – Lifetime Achievement Award
The following year, after accepting this pinnacle honor, Oprah removed herself from future Emmy® consideration and the show followed suit in 2000. Oprah and The Oprah Winfrey Show received more than 40 Daytime Emmy Awards®: seven for Outstanding Host; nine for Outstanding Talk Show; more than 20 in the Creative Arts categories; and one for Oprah’s work as supervising producer of the ABC After School Special Shades of Single Protein.
- Time Magazine – 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century
- Newsweek – Most Important Person in Books and Media
- TV Guide – Television Performer of the Year
- International Radio & Television Society Foundation – Gold Medal Award
- George Foster Peabody Awards – 1995 Individual Achievement Award
|*||Nielsen Cassandra Ranking Report – Nov’86 to July ’99 and Wrap Sweeps, Nov ’99 to July ’06. Primary Telecasts Only.|