A billion dollar lady

All my life I have always known I was born to greatness — Oprah Winfrey

Henry Kissinger, Nelson Mandela, The Governator. The most powerful men in the world have one thing in common; they’re all friends with the most powerful woman, Oprah Winfrey. Oprah, has broken glass ceilings, changed the face of TV, and done it all while looking impeccable. From hobnobbing with world leaders to shopping with J Lo, Oprah is a legend among superstars and everything she touches turns to cold hard cash. Oprah is all about two things: living a great life for yourself and making a difference in the world. She seems to have mastered both.

Starting from the scratch Oprah Winfrey rose from poverty and a troubled youth to become the most powerful and influential woman in television and, according to Forbes Magazine, the world’s most highly paid entertainer.

Winfrey’s parents, who never married, were teens when she was born in rural Mississippi. She was originally named Orpah after a woman from the Book of Ruth but a spelling mistake on the birth certificate changed it to Oprah. She spent her childhood growing up in abject poverty on her deeply religious grandmother’s farm.

When she was older, Winfrey moved in with her mother in Milwaukee, WI. This proved a difficult time as Winfrey alleges male relatives repeatedly sexually molested her. Winfrey became a bit of a wild child during her early teens, experimenting with sex and drugs until the age of 14 when she gave birth to a premature baby. It died shortly after, and upon recovering, Winfrey chose to live with her father in Nashville. It was under his stern guidance that Winfrey found discipline, stability, and the inspiration to excel in school and change her life.

Almost famous:

When she was 19, Winfrey became a part-time radio reporter for station WVOL, Nashville, and also began studying speech and performing arts at Tennessee State University. She dropped out in 1972 during her sophomore year to become an anchor at Nashville’s WTVF-TV. She was the first black woman to hold that position. In 1976, she moved to WJZ-TV and after a stint as a reporter was promoted to co-anchor. Two years after her arrival Winfrey was slotted — with some trepidation by producers who weren’t sure how audiences would respond to a host who was neither white nor thin — to host their talk show People Are Talking. Their worries were unfounded for the charming, empathetic Winfrey’s show was a hit and remained so for eight years.

In 1984, Winfrey took a major risk and accepted a job hosting a Chicago morning talk show, one that aired at the same time as the nationally top-rated, Chicago-based Phil Donahue talk show. This time it was her fears that had no basis for she soon found herself neck and neck in the ratings with Donahue. Her show also went nationwide through King World Syndicate and as she expanded the operation, the money began rolling in. With the purchase of a large downtown production facility, Winfrey was able to become the third woman in the American entertainment industry — after Mary Pickford and Lucille Ball — to own her own studio. She named it Harpo, which is, of course, “Oprah” spelled backwards. Using her considerable business acumen, Winfrey translated her show into a multi-million-dollar business, making her the wealthiest black woman in the U.S.

What she is today:

It has been a rough and equally tough journey for Oprah but she has made it to the top. Today she lives a life of a Queen. From a personal chef to a facialist to security detail fit for the president, Oprah always employs the best and brightest to keep her in tip-top shape. And when it’s time to party, Oprah and her celebrity pals always have a blast. For her 50th birthday, stars like Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks and John Travolta headed to a friend’s mansion in Montecito where they feasted on pound cake gilded with 23-karat gold and enjoyed the musical styling of the king of Motown himself, Stevie Wonder.

But when Oprah wants to relax at home, she can choose from any number of her luxury properties, from her sky-high duplex in Chicago, to her 105 acres of Hawaiian beachfront to her world-class $50 million Montecito mansion. And when you have at least $77 million worth of real estate, there’s no place like home.

Oprah is the ultimate multi-tasking media mogul. She’s taken the television, publishing and film industry by storm. Her daytime self-titled talk program draws 23 million viewers a week, nationally. And now her fans can get a triple dose of Oprah with her cable endeavour, Oxygen and her publication, O magazine.

If that weren’t enough, she’s won the much-coveted respect of the entertainment industry. Oprah and her show have won 39 Emmys, one Oscar nomination and one Golden Globe for her acclaimed role in The Color Purple.

Add up all of Oprah’s wealth and you have the first black woman billionaire. Worth $1.1 billion Oprah is not only changing the face of media, she’s trying to change the world too. Some of her charities include, a donation of $7 million to Morehouse College and $10 million to The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls South Africa. This super-mogul gives like no other and lives like no other. For Oprah Winfrey, life isn’t just great it’s fabulous.