Oprah Gail Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi on January 29th 1954. After a troubled childhood she worked her way up local and regional radio/tv shows before establishing herself as the “Queen of All Media” through her award winning talk show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’ The show was the highest rated of its kind in history and led to her being considered by The American Spectator as one of the most influential women in the world. In 2014, Forbes estimated her net worth to be in excess of 2.9 billion dollars, making her the richest self-made woman in America. Her influence is so widespread that her opinions and endorsements have a powerful effect on influencing public opinion, being coined the “Oprah Effect”. Her support of Barack Obama between 06-08 was estimated to have delivered over a million votes in the 2008 Democratic Primary race
Engagement in Cultural Diplomacy
Oprah’s Angel Network was set up in 1998 and ran until May 2010, raising $80 million in funds to support charitable projects and nonprofit organizations around the world. All administrative costs were covered by Oprah meanings that all donations to the network went directly in helping the recipient charities. Of note, following Hurricane Katrina, the Oprah Winfrey Network Katrina registry was created, raising $11Million in relief aid.
In 2004, Oprah became the first black person to rank among the 50 most generous Americans. Her donations to educational causes alone surpass $400 million. Part of that vast sum was used to cover the costs for 400 scholarships to Morehouse College Atlanta, Georgia. Furthermore, $12 million was donated tot the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Guardian was quoted as stating that she was the “greatest philanthropist in American History.”
Following the Oprah Winfrey Kindness show which was staged in South Africa to bring attention to the huge number of young in poverty and affected by AIDS, she visited countless orphanages distributing Christmas presents for over 50,000 children. Donations from that show along surpassed $7 million, once again displaying the influence and scope she has on viewers of her show. Moreover, she invested $40 million to establish the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Henley on Kip, South Africa. It provides schooling for 450 girls and features state of the art learning devices to help them out of the poverty cycle that many young people are stuck in
Among numerous other awards, Oprah has been awarded: the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard, The Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002, The Jefferson Awards for Public Service in 1998.