Oprah's father, Vernon, was a very strict man who provided Oprah with the stable life she desired. In his home, she blossomed into an intelligent and successful teenager, meeting his demands to read and write a report on a book every week. Due to her father's firm rules and structured lifestyle, Oprah became an honor student and won various awards.
After winning the Miss Black Tennessee Beauty Pageant, Oprah was noticed by a local radio station and eventually landed a job. She later won a full scholarship and attended Tennessee State University where she majored in Communications and Performing Arts. Oprah's career began to flourish in her first few years of college and by 1976, she had signed with WJZ-TV as a news and co-anchor. Word of her lively personality spread fast and she was subsequently invited to host a failing show in Chicago. The show lasted only 30 minutes, but in less than one year, it was extended to an hour and became the most watched show in the city. By September 1985, the show was renamed to become the famous "The Oprah Winfrey Show." When "The Oprah Winfrey Show" was broadcast nationally, fans flocked to their television sets to watch Oprah do her thing. As if being an empathetic and lively talk-show host wasn't enough, Oprah won the hearts of Americans in the film, "The Color Purple" based on Alice Walker's novel of the same name.
In 1986, Oprah created Harpo, Inc., a production company, which soon bought all rights to "The Oprah Winfrey Show". Oprah then became the first woman to produce, own, and host her own television talk show. Even today, Harpo, Inc. is a powerful force in the media industry. When Oprah's talk show switched from media-frenzied stories and ridiculous guests to self-help and spirituality, it received even more attention. A little known fact is that Oprah even campaigned to have a database of sexual offenders and in 1993, Bill Clinton signed the "Oprah Bill". As a result, concerned families and law enforcement have access to records of sexual offenders in the area and throughout the United States. Also in 1993, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" featured an interview with famed musician, Michael Jackson. With over 100 million viewers, this interview was the most watched in television history and subsequently, Oprah received the honorable Time Magazine award as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
As of 2011, Oprah has partnered with Oxygen Media, Inc. and publishes two magazines. Oprah is the first African-American woman to become a billionaire. Often referred to as "the most powerful woman in the world," Oprah Winfrey has overcome many hardships in her life and is proof that negative aspects do not have to hold you down.