The Voice of a Generation: Oprah

The Voice of a Generation: Oprah

Oprah Winfrey is many things: an author, a talk show host, an actress, the list is endless. Though she achieved great wealth and success throughout her life, it was not handed to her on a silver platter. Winfrey was born into poverty in Mississippi and raised by her single teenage mother, Vernita Lee. At six years old, she was sent to live with her maternal grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee. She grew up in a violent community, resulting in her being molested as a child, causing her to be impregnated by 14. Unfortunately, the child died in infancy. To keep her safe, Winfrey went to live with her adoptive father, Vernon Winfrey, in Nashville, Tennessee. 

With the trauma of her molestation plaguing her life, Winfrey managed to overcome it and landed a radio job on the Chicago AM. Her wit and talent quickly skyrocketed the station’s popularity, making it Chicago’s top radio station of the ’70s. Oprah would later be on Steven Spielberg’s The Colour Purple, where she would be nominated for an Academy Award. Coming off hot with a new status, she was able to be on The Phil Donahue Show and rebrand it as her own: The Oprah Winfrey Show. It was a hit, and more attention was drawn to the show by the presence of Michael Jackson, the world’s most famous musician at the time. This would bring over 90 million viewers to the show as it was the artist’s first significant interview in over a decade. In this interview, Jackson speaks out about the abuse he endured during childhood. This was big news for the media which skyrocketed Oprah’s viewership after this episode.

Her popularity caught the attention of the publishing world, and she started her self-branded The Oprah Magazine magazine. It remained on printing presses until its last year in 2020 when they decided to go entirely online only.

Oprah has received various awards, but one of the most important ones is that she was the first recipient of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002; she was given this award in recognition of her services to TV and film at the Emmy Award Ceremony.

 Another big moment and a major interview for Oprah was in 2006 when she interviewed Barack Obama because, at the time, Obama was a senator for Illinois, and this Interview would be considered a significant waypoint in Obama being elected. She would later endorse Obama for his presidential campaign in 2008.

Winfrey would later continue her film career after his retirement, acting in pictures such as A Wrinkle in Time, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, as well as a film about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Selma. 

Despite various obstacles, Oprah broke the racial barriers in society, influencing the white and African-American community through her many magazines, TV shows, and movies. She has spoken out against racism against all races, claiming that we need to have conversations that “unite us, not divide us.” This means holding whatever hatred you may have against others because hatred is only going to continue the violence. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Wesley Van Horn
Wesley Van Horn, Graphic Designer

Comments (0)

All Brush and Palette Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *