‘The Color Purple’
Oprah was cast to play the character Sofia in the 1985 blockbuster, ‘The Color Purple,’ which is based on the bestseller by Alice Walker. Winfrey’s tough, gritty performance earned her an Oscar nomination and helped make her a household name.
HARPO (Oprah spelled backwards, and also the name of her fictional husband in ‘The Color Purple’) is Oprah Winfrey’s self-started multimedia production company, which is based in Chicago. HARPO TV studios were home to ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ but the company has also produced films ( ‘The Great Debaters’ and ‘Precious’) and radio.
Oprah’s Book Club
Oprah’s literary club was introduced on her talk show in 1996. Winfrey would pick a novel to highlight for her millions of viewers each month, many of which went on to become best sellers after being featured on her show.
Leadership Academy in Africa
The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was founded in 2007. The boarding school for the young women of South Africa gives students the opportunity to succeed academically and in leadership positions, despite their disadvantaged backgrounds.
Launching the careers of others
During its 25 seasons on air ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ has had many guests, some of whom appeared on Winfrey’s couch time and time again as experts in fields like health, fashion, interior design, and celebrity culture. Many of these guests, including Nate Berkus, Dr. Phil, Rachel Ray, and Dr.Oz, have their appearances on Oprah’s show to thank for spawning their own popular television brands.
The Oprah Winfrey Network was introduced in 2011 after Oprah concluded her highly syndicated talk show. OWN is an entertainment television channel that is produced by her production studio HARPO. The channel airs shows such as Tyler Perry’s ‘The Haves and the Have Nots,’ ‘Iyanla: Fix My Life’ and ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter.’
After publicly battling issues with her weight, a newly size-10 Oprah paraded onto the stage of her talk show in 1988 wheeling a red wagon behind her. The wagon was filled with “fat” that was used as a representation of her impressive 67lb. weight loss. Her body image has fluctuated in the years since, but her emphasis on healthy eating has been inspirational.
Surprise Car Giveaway
“You get a car! And you get a car.” At the conclusion of her 2004 give-away show, Oprah instructed all 267 members of her audience to look underneath their seats for a gift. Her studio audience was stunned to find that each and every member was going to receive a brand new Pontiac G6 sedan worth almost $30,000.
Endorsing Obama for president
In a highlight of his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama received the endorsement of Oprah Winfrey prior to the crucial Iowa Caucuses. Winfrey, who had never before endorsed a political candidate, backed the now sitting president. The soon-to-be first couple later appeared on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ and after her publicly-announced endorsement she did not invite another candidate to join her.
Oprah’s Legends Ball
In 2006 Oprah hosted a three-day celebration to honor African-American women. The event featured a Legends luncheon, a white-tie ball, and a Sunday brunch. Among those to attend was Angela Bassett, Mariah Carey, Gladys Knight, Maya Angelou, Cicely Tyson, Alice Walker, Tina Turner, Ruby Dee, and more.
The monthly magazine, founded by Oprah Winfrey, was first printed in the year 2000. The magazine features similar topics as her talk show such as self-help, self-empowerment, cooking, and lifestyle features.
King of Pop interview
Pop superstar Michael Jackson sat down with Oprah for a revealing prime-time special on February 10, 1993. This interview, held at Jackson’s Neverland estate, was one of the most-watched programs in television history.
A seasoned interviewer, Oprah has had many celebrities and experts grace her set. Oprah has been hailed for her ability to get her guests to open up, but almost always the studio audience was in for a surprise. Between actor Tom Cruise’s infamous couch jump to Whitney Houston’s admissions to drug use, ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ was full of controversy and surprise.
Oprah’s Angel Network
Outside of appearing in millions of homes via her show, Oprah Winfrey is well known for her philanthropy. In efforts to try to make an impact on the lives of others, the Oprah’s Angels Network was founded in 1998. Oprah has used her wealth to support charitable projects and initiatives. Some charitable endeavors include book club awards, Hurricane Katrina Relief, building schools in South Africa, and programming that assists disadvantaged women and girls.
‘The Butler’ to debut
On August 16th Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’ will open in theaters, featuring a performance from Ms. Winfrey as the wife of Forest Whittaker who plays a butler based on longtime White House service worker Eugene Allen. This movie role will be Oprah’s first in 15 years.
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During an interview with theGrio media mogul Oprah Winfrey said, “I think the work that you’ve done speaks for you.”
Even outside of her duties as a television personality, Oprah has used her work and her wealth to touch the lives of people in a variety of ways.
Oprah Winfrey is making her first big screen appearance in 15 years, playing Forest Whittaker’s wife in director Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
To commemorate the end of her film hiatus, theGrio is counting down 15 defining moments throughout Oprah’s career.
See the slideshow above to see moments that will define the legacy of the “Queen of Talk.”