“No matter where you are on your journey, that's exactly where you need to be.
The next road is always up”.
Oprah is a household name across the world. She is known for her iconic talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which has reached an audience of millions since its release in 1986. She broke through tough boundaries, becoming the first African American woman to host a TV show. She has an estimated networth of over 1.1 billion dollars. In 2003, she was voted as no.1 on VH1's list of the "200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons, beating Elvis Presley and Superman. With ratings at an estimated 6.5 million viewers per day, her show is the most popular talk show in the world.
One could easily look at her life, and be envious because it seems beyond perfect. But this is far from the truth. Behind her fame and success is a background of disadvantage, suffering, abuse, poverty and crushing heartache. She beat extreme odds to get to where she is, and is proof that where you start in life does not have to be the sum-total of your story.
She was born into a socially and economically deprived neighborhood in Milwaukee to a single teenage mother. During her early childhood, she was raised by her grandmother in terribly poor conditions, where she had no friends except the farm animals. From a young age, she had a vivid imagination, which was to be the foundation for the talent that would later propel her into her present success. Her grandmother, who had a very strong Christian faith, instilled moral values into Oprah from a young age, as well as teaching her to read and write. A very bright child, Oprah was able to read and write before the age of three, meaning that when she started school, she was placed several grades ahead of her age.
At the age of six, she went back to live with her mother, who worked long hours as a maid, meaning Oprah was often left alone with her cousins. This caused her to be angry with her mother for the lack of attention and emotional input, and so she developed behavioural problems, which soon led to her being sent to live with her father in Tennessee.
From the age of nine, she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of cousins, an uncle and a family friend. This went on for a number of years, and led to her running away from home aged 13. She was threatened and sworn to secrecy by her abusers, so she suffered in silence. Aged 14, she became pregnant and gave birth to a sick child who sadly died shortly after birth.