You might know her as the talk show host and business entrepreneur, actor and philanthropist, however, there is a side of the "Queen of All Media", Oprah Winfrey, that I want to talk about today as we celebrate Black History Month.
Let’s explore Oprah Winfrey’s Zone of Genius...
Oprah is a media mogul who reigned supreme in the history of American television. She used her platform and new-found fame to launch her own production company, Harpo, and start a school for girls in Africa.
She has given back so much to the community and continues doing so.
Oprah has dominated the world of Television for years with millions of fans globally.
But, as she has talked about in many interviews and her own show, her life wasn’t all that great before we came to know and love her as the Oprah from today.
Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, an unmarried teenage mother and housemaid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who had been in the Armed Forces when Oprah was born.
In the early years of her life, she endured deep poverty, was molested in her childhood and became pregnant at age 14. Her son died in childbirth.
While being poor, dark, and female in rural Mississippi may have been the reality of her initial life, Oprah didn't believe that those labels truly and holistically defined her existence.
She didn't believe those people who told her that she would be nothing beyond these labels.
She could have easily let those words and whispers become the story that she told herself.
But she chose differently.
She had a strong internal belief and she was bold and brave and always ready to face her fears and challenges.
It was during this time that she was reminded of the second chance she was given in life.
And that the only way for her to go was up from here.
In the mid 1970s, she became the first Black woman to anchor a nightly news program in Nashville at the age of 19 while in college. A decade later, she became the host of A.M. Chicago, directly competing with the popular Phil Donahue Show.
Oprah’s show was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show more than a year later. The production soon went into syndication and ultimately became an entrenched part of the American television landscape and the highest-rated daytime talk show in history.
Breaking through a tough industry with courage and becoming one of the world’s Top TV Show Hosts is no easy feat, much less when you’re a woman in an industry dominated by people of another skin color.
Oprah’s personal story resonated with her viewers and her calm and compassionate demeanour was loved by millions of people.
But, there’s another story behind her success, that not too many people see.
She was handed plenty of challenges and opportunities in life like all of us. But she chose to overcome the challenges and take on the opportunities with courage and grace.
Her mother and grandmother were both maids by profession and she was made to believe that her future would be the same.
Had she not grown out of that mindset and changed her belief system & identity around money and her worth, she would’ve never made it this far.
It takes courage to be vulnerable.
And Oprah, not only recognized her vulnerabilities but also got comfortable sharing it with the world.
I believe this important quality enabled her to become a huge success. It’s a part of her Zone of Genius.
She kept dreaming bigger and bigger and expanding her mindset to allow for more growth.
Oprah has been an extensive philanthropist.
She founded and funded Oprah Winfrey Academy for girls in South Africa, contributed $12 million to the building of Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture and raised more than $50 million for charitable programs through Oprah's Angel Network.
Today, she is a pioneer not just for black women, but for all women around the world.
And honestly, if she wanted to become our next president, I really feel Oprah could.
I want to leave you with a few of my favourite quotes from the GENIUS that is Oprah Winfrey:
“When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
“The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but on significance — and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.”
“The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.”
If Oprah can defy the odds that were stacked against her, so can you.