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An inspirational women leader, a role model – Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah, the outstanding leader is a television producer, an actress and a philanthropist. Oprah Winfrey is not just an inspirational leader, but a role model for all young and emerging leaders. She became popular when “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” her award-winning talk show (1986- 2011), hit the headlines.

The talk show presented encouraging stories from celebrities to politicians, advisors and ordinary people and brought massive million income to Oprah. Oprah’s well-respected TV show focused on over-the-top drama, tabloid topics, and success stories.  Oprah’s unique and pleasant interview style has drawn millions of viewers from across the globe. Even the “Oprah’s Book Club” and “Oprah’s Favorite Things” segments were well received by viewers. Oprah became the world’s first black billionaire woman and today is an indefatigable philanthropist. She is a global advocate for girls’ education and her celebrated “Oprah’s Angel Network” has raised over $50 million for charity. Oprah has also shown her acting chops in Hollywood by appearing in ‘The Butler,’ ‘The Color Purple,’ and ‘Beloved.’

Oprah was born in poverty in rural Mississippi to a single teenage mother who was later brought up in downtown Milwaukee. She said she was assaulted during her childhood and adolescence and became pregnant at the age of 14; her son was born and died in infancy. Later, she was sent to live with the man she calls her father, Vernon Winfrey, a barber in Tennessee. Oprah had a chance to get a job on the radio while she was still in college. By 19, she was a co-anchor for the local evening news. Oprah’s often emotional and improvised performance ultimately led to her move to the day talk show arena.  After boosting a local Chicago talk show in the first place, she started her own production company. Oprah was the first African – American woman to own a production company.

Oprah’s hard work and dedication towards her work brought both money and fame to her. In 1994, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She has won many accolades throughout her career. Those include 18 Daytime Emmy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Chairman’s Award; 2 Primetime Emmy Awards, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award; a Tony Award; a Peabody Award, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. She was nominated to two additional Academy Awards as well.  She was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021.

Most importantly, her voice against child and women abuse is remarkable. She does all that she can to eradicate child abuse. As a victim herself, Oprah Winfrey knows the damage abuse does to young lives. She was a major force in the drafting, lobbying and passage of the National Child Protection Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1994. The Act establishes a national registry of child abusers to help employers and those working with children to screen out dangerous people.

Oprah Winfrey’s philanthropy includes significant support for schools and funding for women’s shelters and campaigns to catch child abusers.

Dewondara Arachchi
Dewondara Arachchi
Social and Political Analyser, Writer

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