The life and career of Oprah Winfrey, who was nominated for an Oscar and lives in a $52 million estate nicknamed ‘The Promised Land’

Oprah Winfrey, pictured, is entirely self-made.

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Oprah Winfrey, pictured, is entirely self-made.
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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

  • Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul, an actress, and a philanthropist, with an estimated net worth of about $2.9 billion.
  • She grew up poor and had a difficult childhood.
  • We’ve collected the highlights of her remarkable life and career, from her first job as a talk show host to the launch of her own cable channel.

Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul, philanthropist, and talented actress. Her current net worth is about $2.9 billion, according to Forbes.

Winfrey grew up poor, and her childhood and early adolescence were difficult. But her to drive to succeed, and to prove herself, motivated her to achieve wealth and fame.

Below, see the highlights of her life and career.


Oprah Winfrey, 64 years old, is a media mogul, a celebrated actress, and a philanthropist. Forbes estimates that her net worth is about $2.9 billion.

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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Source: Forbes


Winfrey was also ranked sixth on Forbes’ list of America’s richest self-made women, and is the only African-American woman on Forbes’ 2018 billionaire list.

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards

Source: Forbes, Forbes, Business Insider


Winfrey endured a turbulent childhood. She spent her early years on her grandmother’s farm, in Kosciusko, Mississippi. At age six, she went to live with her mother in Milwaukee; while her mother was away at work, Winfrey was molested multiple times by people including relatives.

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Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Source: Academy of Achievement


As a teenager, Winfrey moved in with her father, Vernon Winfrey, who imposed strict discipline. Winfrey became an honor student.

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Leon Bennett/Getty

Source: Academy of Achievement


Winfrey’s first media job was at a radio station for the African American community in Nashville, making her the first black female news anchor in the city.

Source: Business Insider


She dropped out of college at Tennessee State University to work at a local television station, then moved to Baltimore to co-host her first talk show, “People are Talking.” During that time, Winfrey has said, she was sexually harassed, and was fired as co-anchor after just 7.5 months.

Source: Academy of Achievement, Daily Worth


Winfrey was instead placed on a local talk show, interviewing celebrities. “I felt like this is what I’m supposed to do. All these years I’d been misplaced in news because I couldn’t relate,” Winfrey said on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” “The moment I did that talk-show I felt like, ‘Oh, I can be myself’ and … that was the beginning of fulfilling the calling.”

Source: CNBC, Oprah Winfrey Network


Her next gig was in Chicago, where she revamped a morning show that was struggling. In September 1985, the program was renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Source: Academy of Achievement


Winfrey’s acting career began in 1985, when she appeared in “The Color Purple.” She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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Amblin Entertainment

Source: IMDB


By the time Winfrey was 32, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was syndicated on national television.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


In 1988, Oprah launched her own production company, Harpo Productions. (“Harpo” is “Oprah” spelled backwards.) She also negotiated ownership of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which raked in $300 million a year at its peak.

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REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Source: The Telegraph, Business Insider


In the mid-90s, Winfrey shifted her focus on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Every episode had to be what she considered a “force for good,” highlighting topics like spirituality and raising kids. At first, ratings dipped, but this was Winfrey’s way of differentiating herself from all the other talk shows that had sprouted up. “You can only run your own race,” she said on the “Making Oprah” podcast.

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Lisa Maree Williams / Getty

Source: Business Insider, WBEZ


Winfrey went on to launch her own publication, The Oprah Magazine, and partnered with Discovery Communications to start a cable channel, The Oprah Winfrey Network.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Winfrey lives primarily in Montecito, California. She bought the estate, which she calls “The Promised Land” for $52 million in 2001. Winfrey also has homes in other US states, and on the shores of Antigua. And she flies in a $42 million, custom-designed jet.

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Jason Kirk/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Through the Angel Network, Winfrey has given millions of dollars to charitable causes, including building schools in rural areas across the globe.

Source: Oprah.com


Many people feel that Barack Obama might not have won the 2008 presidential election without her support.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

Source: Vogue


The final broadcast of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was in 2011. Now, Winfrey is a special contributor to CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

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CBS

Source: CBS, Academy of Achievement


In 2015, Winfrey also bought 10% of Weight Watchers for $43 million. Her investment is now worth more than $400 million, according to CNN. She’s also on the company’s board and appears in commercials. Potentially thanks to Winfrey’s involvement, Weight Watchers has reported a boost in subscriber numbers.

Source: CNN


Winfrey shared with Vogue her main takeaway from hosting “The Oprah Winfrey Show”: “There’s not a human being alive who doesn’t want — in any conversation, encounter, experience with another human being — to feel like they matter. And you can resolve any issue if you could just get to what it is that they want — they want to be heard.”

Source: Vogue