She hit rock bottom at just 14 when she got sexually abused by relatives and got pregnant. Oprah broke all barriers to achieve her media success.
Oprah is one of those people who doesn’t even need a surname. Her face may be one of the most famous and recognizable today — and as she already said, “she can’t remember the last time she met someone who didn’t know who she was.”
Born Orpah Gail Winfrey (that’s her real name, no typo) in the small town of Kosciusko, Mississippi, in 1954, her young parents couldn’t raise her, so she grew up with her grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee.
While her mother went up north to find work and make money, grandma Hattie taught many things to Oprah when she was a little girl. Because of her ability to read and write, she moved quickly to the first grade at age 5.
Oprah was taken to Milwaukee by her grandmother, who had been ill. She then moved north to live with her mother in Milwaukee and her half-sister. She was seven years old when she was moved to Nashville with her father and stepmother.
She settled in Nashville and skipped another grade. She also joined the church, where she began to show her talent for public speaking.
At 9-years-old, Oprah went on to visit her mother and her now two siblings. She decided to stay with her siblings. That’s when she had her first experience with sexual abuse. The TV mogul claims that her cousin, aged 19, molested her while looking after her siblings.
As time went by, she suffered other rapes from a family friend and her uncle. At 14-years, Oprah became pregnant. Oprah was 14 when she became pregnant.
Until it got to the point that her mother couldn’t handle anymore, without knowing what was going on with her daughter, she sent Oprah back to her father’s watchful eyes, back in Nashville.
The teen girl managed to hide her pregnancy from everyone until she took the courage to tell her father on the same day she went into labor. The baby, however, didn’t survive and died in the hospital two weeks later. Oprah wrote in her magazine in 2007:
“I was so ashamed, and I hid the pregnancy until my swollen ankles and belly gave me away.”
At the time, she hit rock bottom, and she said she intended to kill herself:
“I thought there’s no way other than killing myself. I was planning on how to do it. If I’d had the Internet, I might not be alive because now you can Google how to do it.”
In recent years, the TV host said that she felt guilty and ashamed for so many years about her miscarriage. In 1990, her family sold her story to a tabloid for $19,000. This devastated her. Source: Getty Images Oprah changed her perception of the miscarriage by telling her father that it was her.
Her father told his daughter that the miscarriage was her “second chance,” making Oprah shift her perception. She started to see it as an opportunity to leap, and she took those words as a personal mantra in which she believes helped her achieve the level of success she’s currently at.
Her father provided her with a safe and loving home, despite all her hardships. It’s difficult to believe that the pregnant and suicidal teenager could turn her life around.
Later, she would feel comfortable in the public eye after being a part of beauty pageant contests. At 17, she won the title of Miss Black Tennessee.
She got used to being on stage and made it to television very quickly. Oprah was the first African American woman to anchor a newscast in Nashville.
She found her dream job at the age of 19 when she was just 19 years old. She compared the experience of being in front of a camera to breathing. Oprah’s astronomical career in television began because of her determination and intuition.
Oprah attracted the attention of executives across the country from Channel 5. She moved to Baltimore in the same year and became an evening news anchor with Jerry Turner. Source: Getty Images. Oprah Winfrey revealed to the Baltimore Sun that Turner would embarrass her when he could. Article-image “> Oprah Winfrey speaking during the OWN Oprah Winfrey Network section of the 2011 Winter TCA press trip held at Langham Hotel, Pasadena, California, on January 6, 2011. Source: Getty Images Oprah won the Chicago talk show host job in 1984. She was so popular that her audience outnumbered Phil Donahue. In 1985, the show was renamed OWN: Oprah’s Network. Unfortunately, as she said, her memories of Jerry Turner aren’t “very fond ones.”
In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, she revealed that Turner would try to embarrass her whenever he could:
“At every chance he could get, he would embarrass me or, like, try to make me feel bad about where I went to school. That’s when I first learned that, oh, where you went to school is an important thing.”
Turner’s teasing opened the opportunity that Oprah needed. She switched from evening to morning television, but this time she got the co-host role on a talk show called “People Are Talking.”
A talk show job opened in Chicago in 1984, and Oprah landed host chair at the “AM Chicago.” Her audience numbers were so impressive that she surpassed the legend Phil Donahue and in 1985, the show was renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Due to her astronomical success, she didn’t want to lose sight of her vision over fame. She founded Harpo Studios in 1988.
She is a driven, passionate and determined woman who never gave up. Against all odds, she took the bold decision to end up “The Oprah Winfrey Show” at its best performance to dedicate herself to another project, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
It took a while to develop into its full potential, and according to her, she made many mistakes and often asked herself if ending her show was the best decision. She learned from her father that she saw it as an opportunity instead of a problem.
Apart from her Book Club, acting, producing, and TV Host, her favorite activity is giving back to others. Oprah found her own charity organization in which she’s already raised over $51-million for many causes.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please get in touch with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
ⓘ Central Recorder does not support or promote any violence, self-harm, or abusive behavior. We help victims to seek professional counseling, and we prevent others from being hurt. The Central Recorder condemns abuse, violence, sexual misconduct, animal cruelty, abuse, and other crimes. That benefits victims. We urge everyone to report any crime that they witness immediately.