There simply is no way to talk about women in media without talking about the incomparable Oprah Winfrey. Breaking every stereotype, Oprah Winfrey has seen an extraordinary rise from newscaster to talk show host to producer to media mogul. Often called the Queen of All Media, she’s also an actress and producer. A few of the firsts Miss Winfrey has achieved:
- only multi-billionaire African American woman
- youngest news anchor WLAC-TV in Nashville
- first black female news anchor at WLAC-TV
Talk Show Host
The Oprah Winfrey Show premiered in 1986. Originally styled along the lines of a tabloid talk show, Winfrey was instrumental in steering The Oprah Winfrey Show to more respected programming. The show began tackling topics like breast cancer and domestic violence and conducting A-list celebrity interviews. The Oprah Winfrey Show launched the careers of prominent guests including Dr. Phil McGraw and Iyanla Vanzant.
Oprah’s Book Club propelled many books and authors to fame while Oprah’s Favorite Things created what came to be known as The Oprah Effect which catapulted little known books, businesses and products to rapid success. Book Club selections included The Deep End of the Ocean, The Underground Railroad, The Reader, and Where The Heart Is.
Winfrey is also noted for her giveaways – who could ever forget the day she gave every audience member a car? – and her philanthropy. At one point, she financed the education of an entire village of girls in Meyerton, South Africa through the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Other philanthropic efforts include The Angel Network and The Oprah Winfrey Foundation.
From her first acting role as Sophia in The Color Purple, Miss Winfrey went on to appear in The Women of Brewster Place, Beloved, and Lee Daniels’ The Butler. As an actress, she has taken on major and minor roles and received praise and critical acclaim. She went on to produce or executive produce many television shows and movies.
Following the success of her talk show, she launched the OWN cable network in 2008. OWN created and premiered Oprah’s Master Class. Miss Winfrey’s respected guests included Bishop TD Jakes, Morgan Freeman, Barbara Walters, and Ellen DeGeneres all of whom shared life experiences and motivational lessons with her audience.
In 2012, Tyler Perry provided weekly programs for the OWN network. Some of the sitcoms and dramas they introduced are The Haves and The Have Nots, For Better or For Worse, Greenleaf, and House of Payne.
John Maxwell famously stated that leadership is Influence, nothing more, nothing less. Oprah Winfrey’s rise to fame was achieved due to her influence through several media mediums. Her influence is far-reaching, persuasive, and effective. It continues with her addition to CBS’s 60 Minutes as a special contributor beginning in the fall of 2017.
Of herself and her success, Oprah Winfrey says, “I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” What could you accomplish if you lived your life with transparency and on your own terms? The bravery of self-awareness and the scope, reach and power of the media have allowed Miss Winfrey to create a presence that will live forever.