Oprah Winfrey isn’t strictly a Law of Attraction author, but she surely deserves to have a page on our website: the Law of Attraction was pretty much discovered by the wider audience thanks to her shows dedicated to The Secret, her endorsement of the LoA authors such as Eckhart Tolle and the entire Law of Attraction concept.
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi as Orpah, named after a biblical character, but the people regularly mispronounced her name, and Oprah stuck. Her mother, Vernita Lee, was an unmarried teenager, who worked as a housemaid. Not long after Oprah was born, she went north, leaving her daughter with her grandmother for the next six years.
Oprah lived in poverty during this time, but her grandmother taught her to read before the age of three. At the age of six, Winfrey moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her mother, but she stayed there for only two years and was sent again, this time to Nashville, Tennessee, to temporarily live with Vernon Winfrey, the man she thought was her father.
In the meantime, her mother gave birth to two more daughters and a son. For one of them, who was born while Oprah was in Nashville, her eldest daughter learnt only in 2010 – she was given for adoption because their mother didn’t want to lose the welfare.
Oprah returned to live with her mother, but that was a miserable life. In one episode of her show talking about sexual abuse, in 1986, she announced for the first time that she was sexually molested by her cousin, uncle, and a family friend since she was nine. She tried to run away from home at the age of 13, but she was sent to a juvenile detention home, only to be denied admission because all the beds were filled.
During the high school, by her own account, she was sexually promiscuous; she gave birth to a baby boy at the age of 14, but he soon died. She was arguing with her mother all the time, stealing money from her, going out with older boys, so again her mother sent her to Vernon, this time for good.
Vernon gave her the secure home life she needed. He was strict, but he made her education a priority, and Oprah became an honors student, was voted Most Popular Girl, and won an oratory contest that secured her a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. At the age of 17, she won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant, and she was offered an on-air job at WVOL, a radio station serving the African American community in Nashville.
Path to success
Oprah continued to work at WVOL in her first years of college, but she finally left school and signed on with a local television station as a reporter and anchor. In 1976, at the age of 22, she moved to Baltimore’s WJZ-TV to co-anchor the six o’clock news. It was there that she co-hosted her first talk show, People Are Talking.
In 1983 she moved to Chicago to host WLS-TV’s low-rated half-hour morning talk show, AM Chicago, which she turned into the hottest show in town in less than a year. In September 1985 it was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show, and broadcast nationally since 1986. It quickly became the number one talk show and received three Daytime Emmy Awards in the categories of Outstanding Host, Outstanding Talk/Service Program and Outstanding Direction.
In 1985 she co-starred in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple as distraught housewife, Sofia. Her performance earned her nominations for an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actress.
In 1986 she formed her producing company Harpo Productions, Inc., which acquired ownership and all production responsibilities for The Oprah Winfrey Show from Capitol Cities/ABC in 1988, making Oprah Winfrey the first woman in history to own and produce her own talk show.
At the beginning, her talk show followed a model of other daytime talk shows, attracting viewers using sensational stories and outrageous guests, but by the mid 1990s Oprah adopted a less tabloid-oriented format, emphasizing spiritual values, healthy living and self-help, and attracting the top names in the entertainment industry: her prime-time interview with Michael Jackson in 1993 became the fourth most watched event in American television history.
Oprah was named one of the “100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century” by Time magazine, and in 1998 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The projects that she authored, co-authored, co-starred or produced are numerous: in 1996 she began her on-air book club, championing the works of authors she admired; the selections of “Oprah Book Club” became instant bestsellers. She herself has co-authored five books. Her magazine called O, the Oprah magazine, which became the most successful start-up ever in the industry. She also continued to devote much of her prodigious energy to film and television production.
She has also become one of the world’s most generous philanthropists: she initiated a campaign to establish a national database of convicted child abusers, which is now available to law enforcement agencies and concerned parties across the country; in 2000, Oprah’s Angel Network began presenting a $100,000 “Use Your Life Award” to people who are using their own lives to improve the lives of others. In 2004, Winfrey became the first black person to rank among the 50 most generous Americans, and by 2012 she had given away about $400 million to educational causes. She also invested $40 million and some of her time establishing the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg, South Africa, featuring the state-of-the-art classrooms, computer and science laboratories, a library, theater and beauty salon.
Oprah Winfrey became millionaire at the age of 32; according to the Forbes’ international rich list, she was the world’s only black billionaire from 2004 to 2006 and the first black woman billionaire in world history. She was worth over $2.7 billion in September 2010.
The final broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show took place on May 25, 2011, after 24 seasons and over 5,000 broadcasts. Her principal home is a 42-acre ocean-view estate in Montecito, California, just south of Santa Barbara. Her wealth is measured in numerous superlatives, and her influence over the way people around the world read, eat, exercise, feel and think about themselves and the world around them is still very strong. She has no living children.
Oprah Winfrey and the Law of Attraction
On February 8 2007, Winfrey presented “The Secret” to her audience, a low-budget inspirational documentary which went mainstream thanks to her endorsement. During the interview with Rhonda Byrne, the author of the film, Oprah gave it her highest compliment: “Watch it with your children,” she said, looking into the camera. “I think this would be amazing, to start your children with this kind of thinking—don’t you, Rhonda?”
In the first of three episodes she devoted to the topic, she stated that The Secret shows us we all “create our own circumstances by the choices that we make and the choices that we make are fueled by our thoughts”. Soon after being presented in the Oprah Winfrey Show, sales of The Secret had shot from 18,000 to 101,000 copies, and the book has been parked on the New York Times bestseller list since February 2007.
In 2008, Winfrey endorsed author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and his book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, which sold several million extra copies after being selected for her book club.
During one of the webinars in which she promoted the book, Oprah stated: “God is a feeling experience and not a believing experience. If your religion is a believing experience […] then that’s not truly God.” She was then largely criticized for being “an ignorant Christian” because “Christianity is incompatible with New Age thought”.
She was also generally criticized and attacked for endorsing the Law of Attraction concept – among other things, she was accused of “championing a cult which praises Nazis and terrorists”.
In this interview she gave to Larry King, she talks about how the law of attraction has worked for her way before The Secret, before her fame and fortune – back in 1984, when she used it to attract her movie role in The Color Purple:
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
I live in the space of thankfulness – and I have been rewarded a million times over for it. I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased. That’s because what you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate
You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.
- Her official biography can be found at her website, www.oprah.com.
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