American icon, philanthropist and media queen Oprah Winfrey turns 65 on January 29, but that doesn’t mean she's retiring anytime soon. In fact, you could say Oprah is still in the prime of her career, as she continues to create, produce and star in TV shows and movies, podcast conversations, her signature magazine O and her wildly popular book club, which has helped launch the careers of many writers into superstar status. "The Oprah Effect" is real—her influence and reach is widespread. Let’s take a look back at her celebrated career.
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born into poverty to a single mother in rural Mississippi. While attending Tennessee State University, Oprah became the anchorwoman of a TV news broadcast in Nashville, and her media career took off. She was the first African American woman and one of the youngest people to anchor a newscast in Nashville.
In 1983, Oprah relocated to Chicago and became host of WLS-TV’s morning talk show. The show was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1985 and became syndicated (broadcast nationally) in 1986. Winfrey launched OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, a cable television channel, in 2011.
Winfrey is also an actress. She received an Academy Award nomination as best supporting actress for her 1985 film debut in The Color Purple.
In 2005, Oprah became a theatrical producer when a musical version of the film opened on Broadway. She has also acted in various critically acclaimed movies and TV specials.
Oprah has won many awards, including numerous Daytime Emmy Awards as best talk show host. In 2000, Oprah was awarded the Spingarn Medal for her achievements in television and publishing. She became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2010. In 2011, she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her humanitarian contributions.
Lastly, let’s not forget her book club. Oprah originally began her book club in 1996 as a show segment for viewers to read and discuss. The original club ended with the show in 2011, but given its enormous popularity, Oprah reintroduced it in 2012 as Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 with Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Oprah has chosen a wide variety of titles for her book club, from literary classics like One Hundred Years of Solitude and Song of Solomon to contemporary fiction such as An American Marriage and Behold the Dreamers.
What’s your favorite Oprah book club pick?