oprah winfrey

Voted one of the people most admired by Americans in 1997, the same year this hedcut was made, Oprah Winfrey has become a cultural icon in her own right. Born to unmarried parents, Winfrey was raised by her maternal grandmother on an isolated Mississippi farm, by her mother in a Milwaukee ghetto, and finally by her father in Nashville. From her childhood, Winfrey displayed a precocious talent for public speaking, and at the age of twelve, having earned $500 for a presentation in a Nashville church, declared that she wanted to make her living being "paid to talk."

The significant challenges that Winfrey overcame, ranging from economic hardship to sexual abuse enabled the talk-show host to connect with her guests and the public. The Oprah Winfrey Show has blossomed from a forum for conversation to a proactive instrument for addressing issues of social and personal concern. In 1996, Winfrey initiated her book club, making bestsellers of literature she espoused. In 2000 she launched a magazine, O. "The magazine is about spirit," wrote Winfrey in the inaugural issue. "Beneath the surface of all physical encounters and experiences is the extraordinary and the ordinary, as well as a deeper meaning. That deeper meaning is spirit." It is just this ability to elicit the meaningful from the deeply personal that has been the key to Winfrey's enormous success.