Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last thirty or so years, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Oprah Winfrey. She went from a humble backwoods rural upbringing in Mississippi to one of the world’s richest women. Oprah is a media mogul, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. There’s not much of our media-based culture that Oprah hasn’t had a hand in shaping.
As a man, your intersections with Oprah may be via a wife or significant other, so you may not be fully aware of her story and how she rose to fame. Oprah’s story is, in essence, a realization of the American Dream itself.
Here are a couple more reasons why we here at VK Nagrani think Oprah Winfrey is a total badass.
1. Troubled Upbringing
Oprah was born well below the poverty line in the backwoods of Mississippi to a single mother. She has actively spoken out about the fact that she was molested her entire childhood, and at the delicate age of 14, became unwillingly pregnant. The child died during infancy. After the death of her son, she moved to Tennessee to live with the man that she called her father, and landed a job in radio while still in high school. Her warm personality and charming presence sealed the deal on a job reporting the local news on television, which later pushed her into the realm of day-time talk shows. The rest, as they say, is history.
Move over Drake, we all know you were a rich kid in Toronto. Oprah really started from the bottom.
2. Reinvigorated Readers
Let’s face it—your mom, grandma, aunts, girlfriend or wife have all probably read a book because it was on Oprah’s Book Club. During the 15 years of Oprah’s Book Club, her viewers have purchased millions of copies of the 70 selected reading titles. Al Greco, a Fordham University marketing professor estimates the total sales of these “Oprah editions” to be just over 55 million copies – just because her name was on it.
3. Weight Issues
If you’ve been an avid watcher of Oprah’s show, you might know that there are quite a few versions of Oprah, in all shapes and sizes. She’s publicly battled her weight and has had a very active role in developing the “fad diet craze” that has been so popular in our country since the ‘90s. Regardless of the positive or negative effects diet crazes may have had on our culture, she has changed many lives by inspiring viewers to live their best life, with lifestyle changes revolving around diet and exercise.
4. Opened Up Race Relations
Oprah has always credited the sacrifices of men and women like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the other great figures of the civil rights movement in her ability to shed her poor, troubled youth to the powerhouse of culture she has become. In turn, her successes have inspired millions more.
Her candid discussions about race opened up dialogs across the country. Oprah once taped a show in Forsyth County, Georgia, where no black people lived for over 75 years. Simply by being there, she inspired growth and a movement of people of color to the area. Twenty-five years later, there are 7,000 African-Americans living in Forsyth County.
Say what you will about her effect on culture, love her or hate her, Oprah has vastly changed the way media is produced and viewed. Keep checking the VK Nagrani blog for more of our Badass Series.