Born on January 29, 1954, Oprah Gail Winfrey faced a mountain of challenges as a newborn baby .. born to teenage parents, she was black, she was female, she was poor.. not just poor...po!
Oprah's mother, Vernita Lee an 18 year old maid. Her father, Vernon Winfrey, a 20 year old serving in the armed forces. According to Oprah, her conception resulted from a single encounter - one time!
Her first break, being raised on a Mississippi farm by her grandmother. Oprah credits living with her grandmother probably saved her life. She taught her to read, introducing her to her first public speaking role, reading at the local church at age 3..
At age 6, Vernita, wanted her young daughter, so Oprah got packed off to Milwaukee remaining there till age 13. She was forced to sleep outside by her mother's employer who disliked her yet favored her young sister. She was raped by a cousin when she was nine years old and later molested by a male friend of Vernita's, and by an uncle. Like many people, she repressed her anger and pain, never told anyone, and rebelled, running away repeatedly, and by her own admission was promiscuous.
Her mother, unable to cope, tried to put her to a detention home. Oprah gets a break when the home refuses her admission as there were no openings. She gets her third break going to live with her father Vernon in Nashville. She became pregnant, and gave birth to a stillborn baby boy at 14. The death of her baby devastated her and she vowed to turn her life around. Vernon's discipline and high standards helped.
Five years later Oprah Winfrey's career starts in Nashville in 1973, as WTVF's youngest and first ever African American news anchor, moving in 1976 to Baltimore. Here, she changes roles taking over People Are Talking in 1978. In 1983, at 29, Oprah moves to Chicago to host AM Chicago, which would evolve into The Oprah Winfrey Show, top the ratings, and become syndicated, changing the landscape of talk tv forever.
Her abilty to talk up a storm, together with the extraordinary ability to connect with and lead her audience emotionally would create a new breed of talk show host, which would spawn others, such as Dr Phil, and Dr Oz. Her abilty to freely discuss her own issues, would inspire others to open up. She would inspire not only women with a better dream for their lives but also men. The power of the Oprah book club endorsement, would instantly boost many authors book sales by millions.
On learning from life-- "And what I found is that every time you have to repeat the lesson, it gets worse. I call it God trying to get your attention. The universe trying to get your attention. "Sooo we didn't get your attention the first time. We are going to have to hit you a little harder this time." So I'm still doing it. I'm still learning.
And it seems worse because it gets worse. I say, the universe is always trying to get your attention. Sometimes it starts out.. any major problem you encounter.. as a whisper. By the time it gets to be a storm, you've had a pebble knock you upside the head; you've had a brick; you've had a brick wall; you've had a house fall down. And before you know it, you are in the eye of the storm.
But long before you are in the eye of the storm, you've had many warnings, like little clues. So now my goal in life is not to have to hit the eye of the storm, but to catch it in the whisper. To get it the first time. I think the thing, the one thing that has allowed me to certainly achieve both material success and spiritual success, is the ability to listen to my instinct. I call it my inner voice. It doesn't matter what you call it..nature, instinct, higher power. It's the ability to understand the difference between what your heart is saying and what your head is saying. I now always go with the heart. Even when my head is saying, 'Oh, but this is the rational thing; this is really what you should do.' I always go with that little... feeling. The feeling. I am where I am today because I have allowed myself to listen to my feelings."
The six-disc collection includes "The Beginning," featuring the early days of her show; "Heartprints," offering her most emotionally affecting interviews; "Aha!," focusing on moments that provided lessons; and the "Stars," interviews with celebrities. All of it a highlight.
As you can imagine, with nearly 18 hours of content spanning 20 years, by the time you finish watching you will no doubt reexperience many personal favorite moments, and you will probably be as gripped and moved as you were watching the show originally. If you're like me, you will discover many new moments, and fresh ahas, whether gripping, humorous, intense, or fascinating which you may have missed the first time around.
My personal big moment came after a Dr Phil segment. JoAnn Compton planned to commit suicide after the show because she could not process her daughter's violent death 10 years before. Dr Phil turned it around by changing her focus from the day of her death, to considering her daughters entire life. When Oprah said afterwards: "I could see that shift in her perceptions" that gave me a huge aha moment.
Neing stuck, I realised that all I needed to do, at any time, in any situation, is shift my perceptions, and I learned how to ask the right questions. Observe, question, change. Learning hypnosis, state changing questions and NLP offered further insights into Dr Phil's exact strategy in the situation, and how to do it for myself and others.
I loved the interview with Nelson Mandela with his tremendous charisma and presence.
Other highlights for me: her trip to South Africa, and its impressive military like precise organisation, how she got the part in The Color Purple, insights by Cameron Diaz about money, and Nicole Kidman about giving, and so much more. Yes, it has Tom Cruise, Travolta, Hanks, Julia Roberts and many others, not only the famous but also the regular people whose stories moved you the most.
Harpo Productions, donates its full share of the net profits from this DVD's sales to Oprah's Angel Network.
2011 update: Oprah repeated the whisper in the storm segment quoted here on her final show. I hope she will do a follow up dvd of the last five years, and include bonus segments from the previous 20 such as the full Nelson Mandela interview.
If you have enjoyed Oprah, I think you will enjoy this, and I hope you found this helpful.