Welcome to Mentor Thursdays, where we explore individuals who are striving or had strived to become better versions of themselves.
Today’s mentor is Oprah Winfrey.
1. Oprah Winfrey’s background.
Oprah Winfrey was born on the 29th of January 1954 in Mississippi, USA. She was voted the most influential woman of her generation by Life Magazine and is the first black female to host a nationally televised talk show called “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
At an early age of three, Oprah had a natural talent for reading, writing and speaking in front of a church congregation. Despite her talents, Oprah had a traumatic and difficult upbringing during her teenage years. While living in a farm community with her mother Vernita, Oprah was sexually abused by male family members and her mother’s friends for many years.
Vernita decided to send Oprah to live with her father Vernon in Nashville, which became the turning point of Oprah’s life. Not only did Vernon provided strict boundaries, guidance and educational resources to Oprah, but it moulded her to become the person that she is today. The guidance paid off and Oprah was able to win a speech contest in high school which earned her a scholarship to Tennesse State University.
2. What did she do?
“The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.” —Oprah Winfrey
College Years – Oprah became Miss Black Nashville and Miss Tennessee as a freshman and at age nineteen, she co-hosted evening news on WTVF-TV for CBS as a sophomore.
After College – Oprah relocated to Baltimore, Maryland to feature in news updates for the Good Morning America show. She was then promoted to co-host a tv chat show called “People Are Talking” with Richard Sher for eight years.
The Oprah Winfrey Show – Oprah was recruited to Chicago in 1984 to host her own show called the ‘AM Show,’ which rose in tv ratings from last to first place in a couple of months. The ‘AM Show’ was renamed to ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ a year later which garnered an audience of ten million people and grossed $125 million in the first year.
Acting Career – In 1985 due to the popularity of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ Oprah starred in her first major role in the movie “The Colour Purple,” where she was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress. Throughout the years, Oprah took on other acting roles which includes The Butler, The Princess and the Frog, Beloved and The Women in The Brewsters.
Oprah Winfrey Network – In 2009, Oprah created the Oprah Winfrey Network in collaboration with Discovery Communications and moved ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ to her own network.
3. What can we learn from Oprah Winfrey?
A. To see failure as an opportunity.
“What other people label or might try to call failure, I have learned is just God’s way of pointing you in a new direction.” —Oprah Winfrey
Questions: What area in my life do I view myself as a failure?
What new direction is God pointing me towards in regards to that failure?
B. To take responsibility for your own life.
“What I learned at a very early age was that I was responsible for my life. And as I became more spiritually conscious, I learned that we all are responsible for ourselves, that you create your own reality by the way you think and therefore act. You cannot blame apartheid, your parents, your circumstances, because you are not your circumstances. You are your possibilities. If you know that, you can do anything.” —Oprah Winfrey
Question: In what way can I take responsibility for my own life?
3. To never compromised your integrity
“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.”—Oprah Winfrey
In 1994, the trend for talk shows became exploitative and trashy in nature which caused a drop in Oprah’s popularity ratings. Oprah refused to compromise her values and over time was able to reclaim her popularity ratings.
Question: What are the non-negotiable values that give me meaning?
Blog post sourced from