Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is famously known for her talk show – The Oprah Winfrey Show which was the highest rated television program of its time.
Born in rural poverty in Mississippi, Oprah spent the first 6 years of her life living with her grandmother. She faced many hardships while growing up and had started working at a radio station while she was still in high school and later began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19. She moved on to working at a day show talk arena and eventually single-handedly contributed to the growth of a third-rated local talk show in Chicago to first place.
It was at this time that she started her own production company – The Oprah Winfrey Show, after which there has been no looking back. Oprah’s forte has been to create a more intimate, confessional kind of media communication since the very beginning. She has been one of the pioneers that popularized and revolutionized the Tabloid Talk Show genre.
By mid-90s she had already shifted her focus to topics like literature, self-improvement, and spirituality and was found questioning most 20th century taboos while making way for the LGBT Community to enter the mainstream. Winfrey’s talk shows mainly consist of emotional and provocative topics where the guests have to make public confessions and resolve their problems via “on-camera group therapy”.
“Few people would have bet on Oprah Winfrey's swift rise to a host of the most popular talk show on TV. In a field dominated by white males, she is a black female of ample bulk. As interviewers go, she is no match for, say, Phil Donahue ... What she lacks in journalistic toughness, she makes up for in plainspoken curiosity, robust humor and, above all, empathy. Guests with sad stories to tell are apt to rouse a tear in Oprah's eye ... They, in turn, often find themselves revealing things they would not imagine telling anyone, much less a national TV audience. It is the talk show as a group therapy session”, the Time Magazine quoted in their segment – Oprah Winfrey: Lady with a Calling.
The Wall Street Journal even coined the term “Oprahfication” – meaning public confession as a form of group therapy in their April 2002 publication. "Winfrey saw television's power to blend public and private; while it links strangers and conveys information over public airwaves, TV is most often viewed in the privacy of our homes. Like a family member, it sits down to meals with us and talks to us in the lonely afternoons. Grasping this paradox ... She makes people care because she cares. That is Winfrey's genius, and will be her legacy, as the changes she has brought in the talk show continue to permeate our culture and shape our lives."