Oprah Winfrey is a talk show host, media executive, actress and billionaire philanthropist. She’s best known for hosting her own internationally popular talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 seasons, from 1986 to 2011. From there she launched her own television network, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
According to Forbes magazine, Winfrey was the richest African American of the 20th century and the world’s only black billionaire for three years running. Life magazine even hailed her as the most influential woman of her generation.
However, her vocational success is only partly responsible for her popularity amongst households. In 2005, Business Week named Winfrey the greatest black philanthropist in American history, with her Angel Network raising more than $50 million for charitable programs, including girls’ education in South Africa and relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Winfrey is also a dedicated activist for children’s rights; in 1994, President Bill Clinton signed a bill into law that Winfrey had proposed to Congress, creating a nationwide database of convicted child abusers. Yet, her hard work did not stop there. In February 2018, after a shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 people dead, Winfrey announced she would follow the example set by George and Amal Clooney and donate $500,000 to the March for Our Lives demonstration scheduled for the following month.
Winfrey also gained a lot of public attention when campaigning for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama in December 2007, joining him for a series of rallies. In November 2018, Winfrey continued her political activism by campaigning for Stacey Abrams, the first black female nominee to run for governor in any state.
In November 2013, Winfrey received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, that was awarded to her by President Barack Obama for her contributions to the US. 5 years later, in January 2018, Winfrey became the first African American woman to be honored with the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award, for lifetime achievement. To this day, she continues to be an inspiration for young black girls, encouraging entrepreneurship and philanthropy.