How The Oprah Effect Made One Woman Rich
How The Oprah Effect Made One Woman Rich, From TV to magazines, Oprah Winfrey heads up a business empire – how did she do it? How Oprah Winfrey made her fortune, Chat show host Oprah Winfrey holds the title of the only black female billionaire in the world, with Forbes putting her net worth at $2.7bn. Not bad for someone born into poverty. But how did she make her fortune?
Despite ‘Oprah’ being a household name and the title of everything from an awards-winning talk show to a magazine, it wasn’t the name Winfrey was given at birth. She was christened Orpah but her friends and family found it difficult to pronounce and so effectively renamed her Oprah.
Winfrey didn’t have the best starts in life. Her teenage single mother struggled to make ends meet in rural Mississippi and she lived with her grandmother for the first six years of her life.
The family later moved to a tough inner-city neighbourhood in Milwaukee where her childhood was blighted by sexual abuse and rape. She was sent to a juvenile detention home at 13, and aged 14 gave birth to a premature baby which later died.
Clearly bright, Winfrey started making the most of her intelligence when her mother sent her to live with her father in Nashville. She got her first job in radio while still at school, won a scholarship to Tennessee State University and was crowned Miss Black Tennessee by age 18.
By the age of 19 she was co-presenter of the local evening news and the station’s first African-American anchor. A move to Baltimore saw her headhunted to co-host a talk show called People Are Talking.
Next she moved to Chicago to take over a low-rated morning TV show. Her emotional confessional style and the ability to get people to open up saw the show quickly become the station’s number one talk show. It was renamed The Oprah Winfrey show and nationally syndicated.
Winfrey was a shrewd businesswoman right from the start. She formed her own production company Harpo Productions – which is Oprah spelt backwards – and negotiated ownership of The Oprah Winfrey Show.