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Name: Oprah Winfrey

Height: 5'7"

Birth Date: January 29th, 1954

Birth Place: Kosciusko Mississippi

Occupation: Talk Show Host
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah's story is an inspirational one. Born on January 29th, 1954 in Kosciusko Mississippi, Winfrey's name was originally "Orpah," after the biblical figure in the book of Ruth. Several different stories allude to the fact that either a misspelling on her birth certificate or a struggle with the pronunciation of her name eventually led to "Oprah" being adopted as her given name.

Our love for Oprah is based on sheer admiration. She has broken down barriers to become one of the most recognizable and wealthy women in television history (not to mention the entertainment industry). A veritable legend, Oprah continues to empower fans with her talk show and empire.

A national success for 17 years (and counting), The Oprah Winfrey Show outdistances all other programs of its kind by connecting with people in a profound way. Winfrey's use of the show to inform the world of numerous "life lessons" has made her one of the most influential people not only in television, but also in society in general. Thanks to her tremendous appeal and many branches of Harpo (her production company), Oprah has become the first African-American female billionaire, but more importantly, a revered figure for all time.

Of course, she bounced back. Reaching over 100 countries and 26 million homes in the U.S. daily, The Oprah Winfrey Show is one of a kind. And in 1994, Winfrey refocused the issues raised on the program. Instead of being almost Jerry Springer-like in content, as it was in the beginning, The Oprah Winfrey Show now asks viewers to "get with the program," focusing on self-improvement and the uplifting stories of everyday people. She also launched her phenomenally successful Book Club in 1996, which propelled every book featured onto bestseller lists nationwide.

Oprah has turned her successful daytime show into an empire; her interactive women's network known as Oxygen TV, O magazine and Angel Network are only three of her many successful ventures. Time magazine recognized her influence and named her one of the 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century, not only because of her show, but also because of her charitable efforts. As proof of her golden heart, look no further than an instance in 1993 when, after heavy lobbying by Winfrey, President Clinton passed the Oprah Bill, aimed at putting an end to child abuse by establishing a database of child molesters in the nation.

Now the only African-American woman to ever be included on Forbes' billionaire list, Winfrey has perhaps run out of incredible "firsts" to call her own. Or -- with long-term beau Stedman Graham by her side.
Winfrey Gives Girls the Chance to Shine in South Africa.

Winfrey launched the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, school for girls, by admitting the first 150 students set to begin classes in January 2007. The school --a $40 million personal project of Winfrey's-- is free to the students grades 7 to 12.

"I'm going to ensure that every girl who wants to go to university will go, either in South Africa or anywhere in the world, all you have to do is work hard," said Winfrey

Winfrey's idea was born in 2002 when she ask Nelson Mandela what she could do for South Africa. The former South Africa president told Winfrey to build a school.

"The money means nothing to me," 52-year-old Winfrey told CNN. "When I look at these girls, I see me. That's why I want to give them everything I didn't have growing up. These are the leaders of tomorrow's Africa."

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy is set on more than 50 acres outside Johannesburg and includes classrooms, dormitories, a dining room, library, and a 600-seat auditorium. Winfrey said it had to have an auditorium, because that stage is where leaders are born.

Admission to the school required high grades from those girls who applied to attend, and Winfrey interviewed each candidate personally.

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy sets "rigorous" and high standards for girls in an environment that engenders academic achievement and service leadership, according to the administrator's press statement.

At a ceremony given in honor of the girls chosen for school year 2007, Winfrey told the girls and their parents that she had grown up in impoverished Mississippi and could relate with the girls in Soweto.

"I wanted to do this school for disadvantaged girls because I was disadvantaged myself."

"I want you to know that these are our daughters, I want you to trust me with them. I will create a good education environment for them and the world will know who these girls are," Winfrey told parents at the ceremony.

Winfrey added that she would return to South Africa before the school opens on 2 January 2007 and take all parents to the campus so they could see that their children would be at a safe place.

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy has a high-tech security system to ensure that the children would be learning in a safe environment.

Future Leadership Academy and 12-year old student, Busisiwe Zasekhaya of Alexandra, South Africa, had this to say, "It feels like a dream come true. I will make use of this opportunity to make my aunt and the country proud."

Zasekhaya, who has been raised by her aunt, said her goal is to become a businesswoman after earning her diploma and that she would like to help children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
  - Legends Ball (2006) (TV) (executive producer)
  - Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005) (TV) (executive producer)
  - "Oprah After the Show" (2002) TV Series (executive producer)
  - Amy & Isabelle (2001) (TV) (executive producer) (producer)
  - Tuesdays with Morrie (1999) (TV) (executive producer)
  - David and Lisa (1998) (TV) (executive producer)
  - Beloved (1998/I) (producer)
  - The Wedding (1998) (TV) (executive producer)
  - Before Women Had Wings (1997) (TV) (producer)
  - Michael Jackson Talks... to Oprah: 90 Primetime Minutes with the King of Pop (1993) (TV) (executive producer)
  - Overexposed (1992) (TV) (executive producer)
  - Nine (1992) (TV) (executive producer)
  - The Women of Brewster Place (1989) (TV) (executive producer)
  - "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (1986) TV Series (supervising producer)
... aka Oprah (USA: short title)

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