Celebrity 360: Oprah

Each week at Notable.ca, we feature a different celebrity who embodies what we consider the four main pillars of a Notable lifestyle. These include a thriving professional career, an active and healthy social life, charitable support and involvement and a general balanced life well lived. With Toronto abuzz after yesterday’s appearance of one of the most iconic and influential women of our time, we found it only necessary to feature the one and only Oprah Winfrey. Although she may be slightly outside of the young professional age, Oprah, a woman who came from nothing, can be an inspiration to every YP across the country.

It is safe to say that Oprah Winfrey has enjoyed the one of the most influential careers of any woman of our time and has overcome multiple barriers, from the colour of her skin to her disadvantaged and abusive childhood. The Oprah Winfrey Show broadcast nationally beginning September 8, 1986, and went on to become one of the top rated shows of all time, making Oprah one of the richest African Americans of the 20th century. The series finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show aired on May 25, 2011, and was met with tears and the end of an era for millions of viewers. Throughout her career, Winfrey has had access to some of the most coveted interviews and is widely credited among marketing professionals for her “Oprah Effect,” turning everything she raves about or otherwise endorses into gold.

In addition to success as a talk show host, she has proven her ability as a talented actress and producer. In 1985, she co-starred in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple, a performance that resulted in an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Twenty years later, the film went on to become a Broadway musical, opening in late 2005 and produced by Oprah. Involvement in the entertainment industry includes an assortment of other credits as an actress, producer and voice actress. Winfrey co-founded the women’s cable television network Oxygen and is also the president of Harpo Productions. On January 1, 2011, Winfrey and Discovery Communications launched The Discovery Health Channel into a new channel called OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

Winfrey has co-authored five books and successfully published two magazines: O, The Oprah Magazine and O at Home. The former was named the most successful start-up ever in the industry by Fortune in 2002. Her Oprah.com website averages more than 70 million page views and more than six million users per month, serving as a daily source of news for desperate housewives and working women alike throughout North America.  Finally, leaving no media untouched, Oprah Radio features popular contributors to The Oprah Winfrey Show and O, The Oprah Magazine including Nate Berkus, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Robin Smith.

A part from the busy schedule, she has never let her personal life or her professional worries interfere with her social life. She successfully works the room at high profile political and charity events (she is known for her unwavering support of President Obama) but is also known to maintain a close-knit circle of friends that she has had for years. Winfrey’s longtime best friend, business partner and confidant Gayle King has become famous in her own right as Oprah’s beloved sidekick. Winfrey has also maintained a long friendship with Maria Shriver. Winfrey is known to be exceptionally generous among her social circle and places great value on friendship – a message she for years communicated to her viewers.

Oprah is widely known as one of the greatest philanthropists of our time. She has donated millions of dollars to various charities and organizations, with most of her money going to three foundations: The Angel Network, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation. The Angel Network was highly publicized on her talk show, with 100% of any donation allocated directly towards funding projects like The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

Winfrey is also a strong supporter of the Clinton Foundation, a charity that supports an assortment of impactful causes like HIV and AIDS treatment and initiatives against climate change. She also supports Project Cuddle, which saves of babies from abandonment and abuse every year and is one of the largest contributors to Free The Children, helping to build schools in developing countries. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Winfrey quickly created the Oprah Angel Network Katrina registry, which raised more than $11 million for relief efforts, with Winfrey personally donating $10 million to the cause.

Other charitable involvement includes everything from giving 300 members of her audience $1000 each to donate to a charity of their choice to helping to design and signing a pair of shoes for the Stuart Weitzman charity shoe auction in support of ovarian cancer and auctioning off some of the cars from her collection for charity.

In 2005, Winfrey became the first African American listed by Business Week as one of America’s 50 most generous philanthropists. Throughout her years on air and through her existing mediums, Winfrey has been vocal on the importance to donate to charity, motivating and mobilizing her viewers to get involved.

Oprah Winfrey is known to live a life rich with experiences and is not afraid to try (and advocate) certain foods, clothing, products, practices, books and trends to enrich her life and influence others. By the mid 1990s, Winfrey reinvented her show with a strong focus on literature, self-growth, charity and spirituality. Winfrey herself can be attributed to the creation of countless “vision boards” made by women throughout North America. Winfrey encourages followers to “live their best life” in every sense – spirit, health, relationships, fashion and beauty, books, food and entertainment, as categorized on the oprah.com website. Her current Oprah’s Lifeclass: The Tour graced Toronto last night, resonating with inspirational words or wisdom for her loyal followers. She was joined by key figures like Tony Robbins, Iyanla Vanzant, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Deepak Chopra.