She arose from the failure of her first debut on TV but managed to stand on her feet.
No one ever blames Oprah Winfrey for taking some easy way out. Although her childhood was full of toil, this young girl from Kosciusko, Mississippi always believed she was destined to be someone great.
Maybe it was from her life background in a village that she learned “to turn misery into wisdom” as she stated later. And her misery was not just a few. She was born as she result of a free intercourse between her mother and a service man who then left her. First Oprah was brought up by her grandmother in a pig farm with no running water facility. She then lived with her mother who moved to Milwaukee where she was sexually abused for the first time by a friend of her family and her own relative. Oprah grew up into a rebellious teenager, at 14 years old she lived in a bad surroundings and gave birth to a male baby that died a week later. Losing her patience, Oprah’s mother sent her to live with her father – a man she never knew before.
But it was by living with her father that she eventually got the discipline she needed to turn her outstanding intelligence into its right track. She was doing well at school and was known for her smart talking. She joined a local beauty contest and won a scholarship in Tennessee State University. She began to study broadcast communication and got a part time job as a reporter in Nashville TV station.
Suddenly it looked like nothing could ever stop the strides of this young girl she once was a naughty girl. Oprah left school at the age as young as 19 years old to become the first Afro-American woman broadcaster in Nashville. She wrestled with this job for three years before she took another job in Baltimore Broadcasting Station – where there were larger market segment and greater prestige and challenge as well. This step later proved to be the biggest blessing in disguise mistake Oprah had made.
Oprah was usually calm and self controlled in her previous job, but now she looked so exhausted. She forgot to read the text copy prior to her appearance before the camera. She misspelled “blasé” and misplaced Barbados to be somewhere in California and made a small laugh at that incident. She interviewed a fire victim with such style as asking “How did you feel after the ordeal?” then wept in front of the camera and apologized for exploiting woman’s emotion.
The station management did not appreciate her attitude in front of the camera and they didn’t like her appearance either. They complained about her hair style, her big nose and the distance between her eyes. Tempted to glamorize her appearance, they sent her to a good salon in New York which did a disastrous remodeling that made her fair fall off. Failing to find a suitable wig, she managed to appear on the camera (then she said: “You will learn a lot about yourself if you are baldheaded, a black and a news broadcaster in Baltimore”)
In one year her glory was to be unpredictably coming. The station had had enough of this new figure. They decided she just didn’t fit to TV news broadcasting job. But to avoid breaking her contract, they choose not to fire her but lowered her position from broadcaster to presenter of a talk show for housewives called “People Are Talking” run at daytime.
Oprah said, “Failure is the way God chooses to remind you that you are on the wrong track”. But clearly she is now on the right track about her first day on the talk show “it is like a breath of relief and it is exactly what you must feel”. The show was a prime show and most of the audience was women who found themselves reflected in the figure of that simple, direct, funny and human presenter.
Seven years later, Oprah’s show attracted a station in Chicago and she was offered to move there to direct the A. M.
Chicago show. In a month she made that show the most lovable show. In 1985 the show was further developed and given a new name: The Oprah Winfrey Show and is now nationally broadcasted.
During more than 15 years of unpredicted success, Oprah keep sharing many things, including her own struggle and success affairs: going on a diet against too much food and fat (she eventually got her ideal weight), a law suit by a ranch owner (which she won), the “TV Garbage” program which dominates her market segment (she soared up and achieved highest rating). Even after all she had been through, she refused to see her failures as mistakes. “I don’t believe in failure” Oprah said. “It is not a failure if you enjoy the process”.