Oprah Winfrey has already left an indelible mark on the face of television. From her humble beginnings in rural Mississippi, Oprah's legacy has established her as one of the most important figures in popular culture. Her contributions can be felt beyond the world of television and into areas such as publishing, music, film, philanthropy, education, health and fitness, and social awareness. As supervising producer and host of The Oprah Winfrey Show Oprah entertains, enlightens and empowers millions of viewers around the world.
Oprah is the chairman of Harpo, Inc., Harpo Productions, Inc., Harpo Studios, Inc., Harpo Films, Inc., Harpo Print, LLC and Harpo Video, Inc.
Oprah has been honored with the most prestigious awards in broadcasting, including the George Foster Peabody Individual Achievement Award (1996) and the IRTS Gold Medal Award (1996). In 1997, Oprah was named the most important person in books and media by Newsweek and TV Guide crowned her the "Television Performer of the Year." In 1998, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th Century. Oprah was also recognized by the publishing industry for her influential contribution to reading and books when she received the National Book Foundation's 50th Anniversary Gold Medal (1999) and the Association of American Publishers AAP Honors Award (2003). In September 2002, Oprah was honored with the first-ever Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards�.
In addition to these awards, Oprah and The Oprah Winfrey Show have received a total of 39 Daytime Emmy Awards�: seven for Outstanding Host; nine for Outstanding Talk Show; 21 in the Creative Arts categories; and one for Oprah's work as supervising producer of Shades of Single Protein, an ABC After School Special. In 1998, she received The 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.
TALK SHOW PIONEER
"I am guided by the vision of what I believe this show can be. Originally our goal was to uplift, enlighten, encourage and entertain through the medium of television. Now, our mission statement for 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' is to use television to transform people's lives, to make viewers see themselves differently and to bring happiness and a sense of fulfillment into every home." � Oprah Winfrey
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 moved to Baltimore's WJZ-TV to co-anchor the Six o'clock News and moved on to become co-host of their 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 talk show just one month after she began. In less than a year, the show expanded to one hour and was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 1986, The Oprah Winfrey Show entered national syndication and has remained the number one talk show for 17 consecutive seasons*. Oprah produces and hosts The Oprah Winfrey Show through Harpo Productions, Inc. It is seen by an estimated 23 million viewers a week in the United States**, broadcast internationally in 107 countries, and is the highest-rated talk show in television history.
Through The Oprah Winfrey Show Oprah created Oprah's Book Club (1996), which inspired a reading frenzy across the country and propelled all Book Club selections to the top of bestsellers lists. The show also was a catalyst for Oprah's Angel Network (1997), a non-profit organization that has raised millions of dollars to help make a difference in the lives of those in need.
Oprah.com, an extension of The Oprah Winfrey Show, has become the premiere online resource for the show and everything Oprah. It provides viewers with all the personal and lifestyle resources to live their best lives.
back to top
Oprah made her acting debut in 1985 as "Sofia" in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple and received both an Academy Award� nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for her performance. In 1998, she starred as "Sethe" in the critically acclaimed Beloved, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison.
Oprah has also been lauded for her performances in the made-for-television movies The Women of Brewster Place (1989), There Are No Children Here (1993), and Before Women Had Wings (1997).
back to top
Through Harpo Films, Oprah has a long-term deal with the ABC Television Network to produce Oprah Winfrey Presents telefilms. Projects under the Oprah Winfrey Presents banner include: Amy and Isabelle, based on the best-selling novel by Elizabeth Strout and starring Academy Award�-nominee Elisabeth Shue; 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; David and Lisa, an updated version of a 1962 film, re-written for television by Lloyd Kramer and Theodore Isaac Rubin and starring Academy Award�-winner Sidney Poitier; the mini-series The Wedding, based on Dorothy West's novel and starring Academy Award�-winner Halle Berry; and Before Women Had Wings, adapted from a novel by Connie May Fowler and starring Ellen Barkin, who received an Emmy Award� for her performance. In September 2000, "Tuesdays With Morrie" received four Emmy Awards� for Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Lead Actor (Jack Lemmon), Supporting Actor (Hank Azaria), and Single-Camera Picture Editing (Carol Littleton). The movie has also received awards from the Screen Actors Guild (Jack Lemmon, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie), Producers Guild of America (Oprah Winfrey and Kate Forte), Directors Guild of America (Mick Jackson), and the Broadcast Film Critic's Association (Best Picture Made for Television). Oprah also produced Beloved, a Touchstone Pictures feature film.
In 2001, Oprah and Harpo Productions announced the creation of the new, daily, syndicated series, Dr. Phil, featuring life strategist Dr. Phil McGraw, Ph.D., who appeared as a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show from 1998 through 2002. The show, which has ranked number two since its debut on September 16, 2002, is produced by Paramount Domestic Television and distributed in national syndication by King World Productions and globally by CBS Broadcast international.
back to top
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 an audience of over two million readers each month. O, The Oprah Magazine, is another medium through which Oprah connects with her audience and provides possibilities for transforming their lives. In April 2002, Oprah launched the first international edition of O, The Oprah Magazine, in South Africa.
In 2000, 2001 and 2003, O, The Oprah Magazine, presented the "Live Your Best Life Tour." The daylong, interactive workshop hosted by Oprah drew sold out crowds in every city. In November 2003, an online version of the "Live Your Best Life Tour" experience premiered on oprah.com.
back to top
Oprah is co-founder of Oxygen Media, which was formed in November 1998 along with fellow founders Geraldine Laybourne, Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner, Caryn Mandabach. Oxygen Media includes the Oxygen Network, a women's cable network that launched on February 2, 2000 and is currently available in 48 million homes across the country. Oprah's first production for the Oxygen Network was Oprah Goes Online, a 12-part course giving a step-by-step look at all things online. Use Your Life, her second series for Oxygen, highlighted real-life heroes who are using their lives to change the world one person at a time.
In September 2002, Oprah debuted another original series exclusively for Oxygen with the launch of Oprah After The Show. The spontaneous, unscripted, daily half-hour show, taped after The Oprah Winfrey Show, airs weeknights during prime time on the Oxygen Network.
back to top
In September 1999, Oprah joined Stedman Graham as an adjunct professor at The J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University to co-teach "Dynamics of Leadership." The course curriculum, developed by professors Winfrey and Graham, shared insights into how students can cultivate their own leadership skills and develop an approach to management, leadership and organizational issues suited to their individual circumstances. "Dynamics of Leadership" was offered at Kellogg for a second time in the fall of 2000.
back to top
The Oprah Winfrey Foundation was established to support the inspiration, empowerment, education and well-being of women, children and families around the world. Through this private charity, Oprah has directly served the needs of low opportunity people and has awarded hundreds of grants to organizations that carry out this vision. She has contributed millions of dollars towards providing a better education for underserved students who have merit but no means. She 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.
The Oprah Winfrey Foundation continues to expand Oprah's global humanitarian efforts in developing countries. In December 2002, Oprah brought a day of joy to tens of thousands of children with ChristmasKindness South Africa 2002, an initiative that included visits to orphanages and rural schools in South Africa where children received gifts of food, clothing, athletic shoes, school supplies, books and toys. Sixty-three rural schools received libraries and teacher education, which will continue throughout 2003. In addition, Oprah announced a partnership with South Africa's Ministry of Education to build a model leadership school for girls. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls South Africa is scheduled to open in 2006.
Oprah also serves as the national spokesperson for A Better Chance, an organization that provides academically talented high school students of color, predominantly from inner city school districts, the opportunity to attend many of the nation's finest college preparatory schools. Oprah's commitments extend to her initiation of the National Child Protection Act in 1991; she testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to establish a national database of convicted child abusers and on December 20, 1993, President Clinton signed the national "Oprah Bill" into law.