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Oprah Winfrey – Talk Show Pioneer and Media Mogul [VIDEO]

All this week, I’m featuring stories of strong women who have excelled in fields formerly dominated by men. It’s all in support of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Bangor’s Women’s Build Week. Today’s strong woman is Oprah Winfrey! Watch as she interviews Keith Urban and Nichole Kidman!

Whether you love her or hate her (and those lines are usually pretty clearly defined), you have to admire the empire that is Oprah Winfrey. She took a big risk trying to break into an entertainment genre previously populated with names like Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, phil Donahue, Johnny Carson, and Geraldo Rivera. But she’s not only succeeded, she’s soared!

It was a rough start for the now billionaire. She was born into poverty, the daughter of an unmarried teenager who worked as a maid. Throughout her youth, Oprah (or Orpah – which is her given name) was moved between relatives and schools, lived in poverty, and was molested for years by family members.

Things turned around for Oprah when, at the age of 17, she won the Miss Black Tennessee pageant. A local radio station took notice and hired her to do news part-time. That started her career in media, where she quickly switched over to TV news. In 1978, she was recruited to co-host Baltimore local talk show ‘People are Talking’ and her fate was sealed.

In 1983, Oprah moved to Chicago where she took over a morning show called ‘AM Chicago,’ and within months took it from last place to first in the city! Three years later, ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show ‘ was born and she’s never looked back.

Oprah appeals to a different audience than other hosts, like Phil Donahue. Her interviews are not as hard-hitting, not as confrontational. But they are always informative, emotional, and extremely relevant to her audience. She has endeared herself to her viewers for her honest reactions to the subjects she features on her show. And for the gentle, empathetic way that she deals with her guests.

But the talk show is only part of the Oprah empire. Named ‘The Queen of All Media,’ Oprah has dipped her toes in the fields of acting (‘The Color Purple’), publishing (O, the Oprah magazine), and television (OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network). All of these enterprises reside under the name ‘Harpo Productions.’ Harpo is Oprah’s name spelled backwards and was her character’s husband’s name in ‘The Color Purple.’

Oprah was been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and is said to be North America’s only black billionaire.

And, after all her success, she’s not resting on her laurels. 2013 was a huge year for the little girl from Mississippi. Oprah was given the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ by President Barack Obama and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard.

All this week, I’m featuring stories of strong women, as a way to show support for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Bangor’s Women’s Build week. The annual event is meant to empower and encourage women to get involved in construction. It also earns the Bangor chapter of Habitat a $5,000 gift certificate from Lowe’s to be used on a future build! This year, volunteers (including me!) will be helping to rehab an existing house on Fifth Street in Bangor, getting it ready for its new family. There’s also a two-hour paint and DIY workshop being held at Lowe’s in Bangor Friday night. I hope you’ll join in!

Next: Female Volunteers Needed for Women's Build Saturday

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