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Teachers and Inspirations
 

 

Portrait of Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey


  Television Personality | Harpo Productions, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA

 

 

I have had several people question my inclusion of Oprah Winfrey on my list of Gurus and Teachers, but I feel that God has used her and her career to speak to me on several occasions.  There have been many times when I will be questioning some aspect of life and turn on the television just in time to hear that famous tagline: "Today on Oprah..." and have the subject basically answer whatever I happened to be thinking about.

Several of her guests over the years have touched me personally on many levels, including Gary Zukav, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Maya Angelou and Mattie Stepanek, an amazing 11 year-old who has written a beautiful book of poetry called "Heartsongs."

 

Oprah Winfrey was born January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi, where she lived with her grandmother until she was 6.  She then moved to Milwaukee with her mother until running away at the age of 13.  Since the juvenile detention home was full, she ended up in Nashville with her father.  She attended Tennessee State University where she majored in Speech Communications and Performing Arts.

In January 1984, Oprah Winfrey arrived in Chicago to host a failing local 30-minute talk show called "AM Chicago" on WLS-TV.  Not long after taking over the show, it was lengthened to a full hour and in September of 1985, officially became the "Oprah Winfrey Show."  A year later the show went national and won 3 Daytime Emmy Awards its very first year on the national market.  In 1988, HARPO Productions assumed ownership and all production responsibilities for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" from Capitol Cities/ABC, making Oprah Winfrey the first woman in history to own and produce her own talk show.

On top of her successful television career, Oprah has had quite a decent career as an actress.  She was nominated for both a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her first major film role, Ms. Sophia in Steven Spielberg's 1985 adaptation of Alice Walker's "The Color Purple."  Her HARPO Productions has produced several projects including "The Women of Brewster Place" and "Beloved."

As if all the above were not enough, Oprah Winfrey has been involved in several community service programs including lobbying for "Oprah's Law" signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1993, establishing a national database of convicted child abusers.  She also been involved in funding shelters for battered women and "Oprah's Angel Network" that has raised several millions of dollars to build low-income housing and send low-income students to college.

Not long ago, Oprah became quite interested in trying to help African children succeed and have better lives. To this end, she opened an academy for young girls, The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, that is reported to be of excellent academic standards and high quality facilities.

On Oprah's site, she had a section on the school and meeting some of the girls, they are all wonderful and sweet, but the one who made me laugh so hard was a thirteen year old beauty named Lesego who says "You are an individual.  Act like an individual.  Don't try to blend in.  Blend out."  Now there is a soul I hope to hear from again and soon!

Visit Oprah Winfrey's Web Site