Oprah Winfrey

A host, author, actor, and media mogul, Oprah Winfrey was one of the most well-known people on Earth. Born to an unwed teen mother in rural Mississippi in 1954, Winfrey grew up in Mississippi, Minnesota, and Tennessee as she moved between the homes of her mother, grandmother, and other relatives. Raised in extreme poverty, Winfrey nonetheless excelled as a student and as a speaker, winning a full scholarship to Tennessee State University through an oratory competition. By this point, Winfrey was already reading the news part-time for local radio station WVOL which she continued to do in college. After graduating, she became a TV news anchor for WLAC-TV in Nashville. Winfrey would land a number of news anchor jobs around the country before moving to Chicago to become the host of a low rated talk show called "AM Chicago" (WLS, 1984-86). Within months Winfrey's revamp of the program had it beating then-ratings juggernaut "Donahue" (Syndicated, 1967-1995). Though she paused in the middle of this ascent to star in the wildly acclaimed film "The Color Purple" (1985), Winfrey soon built upon her talk show success, signing a new deal to host her own syndicated talk show titled "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (Syndicated, 1985-2011). The show began as a tabloid style talk show typical of its time, but Winfrey eventually broadened the range of topics and adjusted the tone to one more serious. She continued to act, starring on the series "Brewster Place" (ABC, 1990) and later executive producing and starring in the film "Beloved" (1998). All the while, Winfrey's media empire grew. She co-founded the cable networks Oxygen and later OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, and launched O Magazine in 2004. After opting to finally conclude "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2011, Winfrey began hosting the more niche spirituality themed interview show "Super Soul Sunday" (OWN, 2011-). She would go on to work most often as an executive producer, bringing acclaimed series like "Queen Sugar" (OWN, 2016-) and "When They See Us" (Netflix, 2019) to the screen.