A biblical name Orpah was mispronounced as Oprah. Today, the name rides millions.
Though that hasn’t always been the case. In a racist America, she was a black American woman, underwent teenage pregnancy, was a single mother, faced childhood abuse, and an early life of poverty.
At the age of 19, a radio show and her talent to ad-lib kicked off a career and a journey that is inspirational. My first memory of Oprah Winfrey is from the late 90’s when Indian households had something called the cable TV that brought them entertainment and content from far away shores. She was confident, didn’t shy away from speaking her mind or shedding a tear on her talk show – The Oprah Winfrey show. It ran for two and a half decades and that shows how popular Oprah was. Oprah’s journey from a young teenager to a household name has been an inspiring one.
In a world where women are still fighting for their right to choose ‑ be it to wear a burkini to the beach or to pray in religious places where women are banned or to have an abortion ‑ Oprah is a role model for all. Here is how she inspires:
You can overcome any challenge
Transgender artist, activist and actor Kalki Subramaniam says, “I love the spirit of Oprah Winfrey. She is one strong willed woman who has defied age and gender and has been super duper successful. There is a lot to learn from her.”
A life of abject poverty, being the child of a single mother, dealing with her own pregnancy at the age of 14 and losing her child in infancy – she had enough to discourage her, but she didn’t. She grabbed opportunities and climbed the ladder of success. Ranked one of the richest African-American woman in 20th century, Oprah has come a long way from her Missouri days.
Cherish the small joys
No matter how rich and successful you become, the only thing that matters is happiness. And that comes from cherishing the small moments in life.
In her book What I know for sure, Oprah writes, “What I know for sure is that every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and step out and dance – to live free of regret and filled with as much joy, fun, and laughter as you can stand. You can either waltz boldly onto the stage of life and live the way you know your spirit is nudging you to, or you can sit quietly by the wall, receding into the shadows of fear and self-doubt.”
Make your voice heard
Oprah used the television as a medium to make her voice and the voice of others heard. She made people think, talk and share their feelings and display emotion.
Anish Menon, a learning facilitator based out from Pune, says, “I know Oprah Winfrey as a connector. Growing up as a kid without internet as the mainstream media, she connected me to a whole new world of inspiring ideas and life stories. She did it through her interviews with the influential and the famous, the conversations about global issues and new trends and sometimes difficult conversations with individuals and minority groups about their rights and lives. With her ingenuity and genuine spirit, she dawned on the television network for 20 long years. No small feat! An inspiring woman figure, she has championed, lived and shaped values that I hold so dearly. As someone said, ‘She is ordinary and extraordinary at the same time’. Through my life work as a learning facilitator, I find my purpose of inspiring people to live an abundant life resonating with her life story. And that’s why Oprah is so special for me.”
Give back more than you receive
“Only once, one has personally experienced the bitter brunt end of being a woman and abuse in the space God has chosen you to evolve in, can one crusade for the millions of victims and be an Oprah! Oprah for me represents evolution and make over emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually,” says Shipra Khanna, Master Chef and author.
Oprah has been a crusader for education and donated millions towards it. She has always been very outspoken about important issues. In 1998, she started Oprah’s Angel Network that supports non-profits and causes across the world.
And while we talk about our dreams, and following our passions, Oprah has always lead by action. At the age of 62, she continues to be fiery and passionate about everything she does. She is a true leader who inspires people across the age and demography, someone we look up to.
And she is right when she says, “Your true passion should feel like breathing it’s that natural.” Its always reflected in everything she does.