She hit rock bottom at just 14 when she got sexually abused by relatives and got pregnant. After a breakthrough, Oprah smashed all barriers against all odds to become the media mogul she is today.
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.
Oprah Winfrey attends the European Premiere of 'A Wrinkle In Time' at BFI IMAX on March 13, 2018 in London, England. | Source: Getty Images
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. At 5, she went to kindergarten but quickly moved to the first grade due to her ability to read and write well.
When Oprah's grandmother got sick, she was sent north to live with her mother and her half-sister in a boarding house in Milwaukee. When she turned 7, a year later, she was sent to live with her stepmother and father in Nashville.
She settled in Nashville, skipped a grade again, and got involved with the church -- she happened to start showing her ability with public speaking.
Oprah Winfrey attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2014 at The Royal Opera House on February 16, 2014 in London, England. | Source: Getty Image
At 9-years-old, Oprah went on to visit her mother and her now two siblings. She decided to stay with them. That’s when she had her first experience with sexual abuse. The TV mogul tells when she was babysitting her siblings she was molested by her 19-years-old cousin.
As time went by, she suffered other rapes from a family friend and her uncle. At 14-years, Oprah became pregnant. The girl kept all the sexual abuse to herself and externalized it in other ways -- through stealing, skipping school and running away.
Until it got to a 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.
Oprah Winfrey poses with the Cecil B. DeMille Award in the press room during The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
The teen girl managed to hide her pregnancy from everyone until she took the courage to tell her father on the very same day she went into labor. The baby, however, didn’t survive and died in the hospital two weeks later. Oprahwrote
in her magazine in 2007:
“I was so ashamed, I hid the pregnancy until my swollen ankles and belly gave me away.”
Oprah Winfrey speaks during Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour presented by WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined) at Spectrum Center on January 18, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. | Source: Getty Images
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 just planning on how to do it. If I’d had the Internet, I might not be alive because now you can just Google how to do it.”
In recent years, the TV host said that she carried the guilty and the shame for so many years about her miscarriage. In 1990 her family sold the story to a tabloid for $19,000, which devastated her.
, Oprah Winfrey speaks during "One World: Together At Home" presented by Global Citizen on April, 18, 2020. | Source: Getty Images
his daughter that the miscarriage was her “second chance,” which madeOprah
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 to achieve the level of success she’s currently at.
Despite all the hardship, her father provided her a loving and safe home. It's hard to believe that the suicidal and pregnant teen was able to turn her life around, but it turns out she did.
Being part of beauty pageants contests would later make her comfortable with the public eye. She went on to win the title of Miss Black Tennessee in 1972 at 17.
Oprah Winfrey speaks at a podium early in her career, during her time at WJZ, Baltimore, Maryland, January 20, 1978. | Source: Getty Images
She got used to being on stage and made it to television very quickly. Oprah became the first African American woman as a news anchor in Nashville.
At the young age of 19 years old, she found her work for life. In another article on her website, she compared being in front of the cameras with breathing. Moved by her strong drive and intuition, her astronomical career at television has just begun.
From Channel 5, Oprah got the attention of executives from all over the country. At the time, she moved to Baltimore and worked as an evening news anchor alongside Jerry Turner. Unfortunately, as she said, her memories of Jerry Turner aren’t “very fond ones.”
Oprah Winfrey arrives at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
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.”
Oprah Winfrey speaks during the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network portion of the 2011 Winter TCA press tour held at the Langham Hotel on January 6, 2011 in Pasadena, California. | Source: Getty Images
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. In 1988, she founded Harpo Studios, her own production company.
And because she is just a passionate, driven and determined woman, she kept going all in. 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).
Oprah Winfrey at the Academy Awards in Hollywood, California on Feb. 22, 2015. | Source: Getty Images
It took a while to develop into its full potential, and according to her, she made a lot of mistakes and often asked herself if ending her show was the best decision. But as she learned early on with her father, instead of looking at it as a problem, she looked at it as another opportunity.
Among many other projects such as her Book Club, acting, producing, TV Host, one of her favorite activities is to give back to people. 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 contact 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.
news.AmoMama.com does not support or promote any kind of violence, self-harm, or abusive behavior. We raise awareness about these issues to help potential victims seek professional counseling and prevent anyone from getting hurt. news.AmoMama.com speaks out against the above mentioned and news.AmoMama.com advocates for a healthy discussion about the instances of violence, abuse, sexual misconduct, animal cruelty, abuse etc. that benefits the victims. We also encourage everyone to report any crime incident they witness as soon as possible.
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