Thank you for reading the Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011 series by Aberjhani. To catch up on the entire series please see the links at the end of this article. To see why Oprah Winfrey tops this year’s list, please continue reading:
When The Oprah Winfrey Show made its national debut September 8, 1986, there was little outside of Winfrey’s obvious passion for her new adventure to indicate it would eventually dominate daytime talk-show television for some twenty-five years before ending with a three-day extravaganza featuring some of the biggest names in entertainment.
The May 23 and 24 broadcasts of The Oprah Winfrey Show spotlighted major celebrities and a crowd estimated at 20,000 people all packed inside the United Center in Chicago to bid farewell to the show. Such an extravaganza might have overwhelmed the average individual but as the emcee for the event, Academy-Award winner Tom Hanks, pointed out, up until then more than 40 million people had tuned in every week to Winfrey’s show. So a send-off of this magnitude was appropriate. Hanks described it this way for the woman of the hour: “Oprah Winfrey today you are surrounded by nothing but love.”
That “love” consisted of performances and appearances by, among others, the following: Beyonce, Aretha Franklin, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Halle Berry, Tom Cruise, Josh Groban, Katie Holmes, Patti LaBelle, Queen Latifah, Madonna, Tyler Perry, and Usher. It was the kind of happening most considered impossible to follow and left many speculating on who the last amazing guest might be for the final May 25 show.
As it turned out, it was Winfrey herself in motivational-speaker mode. She used the occasion to share personal insights gleaned from her life’s journey up to that point:
“The show has taught me there is a common thread that runs through all of our pain and all of our suffering, and that is unworthiness. Not feeling worthy enough to own the life you were created for. Even people who believe they deserve to be happy and have nice things often don’t feel worthy once they have them.”
Like the brilliant $1 billion entrepreneur that she is, while one stage of Winfrey’s vision of media possibilities came to an end the next had already gotten underway in the form of her OWN television Network. The network began broadcasting January 1, 2011. It has presented throughout the year the kind of inspirational and self-empowerment programming that has endeared Winfrey to viewers across the spectrum throughout her career. Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, hip hop entrepreneur Jay-Z, Rosie O’Donnell and many others considered at the top of their individual games filled entire slots or made guest appearances to give the network a formidable start.
Moving into 2012
On January 1, OWN will give viewers exactly what many have been hoping for: Oprah Winfrey herself. The talk show host will once again take her place in front of the cameras, this time in weekly broadcasts of Oprah’s Next Chapter. The set is a very different one from the Harpo Studio with which viewers became so familiar over the years and in fact will change as Winfrey goes on the road to visit “fascinating” individuals.
The first episode on January 1 at 9 p.m. (EST) will feature Aerosmith front-man and American Idol judge Steven Tyler. Later segments will find Winfrey visiting with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, celebrity chef Paula Deen, a Hasidic family in Brooklyn, popular pastor Joel Osteen, motivational guru Tony Robbins, and Transcendental Meditation Town in Iowa.
“I am out of the chair,” Winfrey said recently in an interview with TV Guide Magazine. “I’ve been longing not to be tethered to the studio and constricted by who would come to see me but to be moving through the world exploring new ideas and meeting new people. I love that no one is promoting a new CD, a movie or a book, just having a conversation we hope will elevate viewer consciousness.”
As a talk show host, Winfrey allowed millions to share in the sense of intimate rapport established in interviews with such iconic figures as: Maya Angelou, former president Bill Clinton, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, John F. Kennedy Jr., Maria Shriver and her mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Toni Morrison, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, John Travolta, Tina Turner, and virtually every “A-Lister” in a given field of the cultural arts. During the show’s final year, she continued to score firsts and exclusives with programs like the supposedly “kiss and make-up” interview with author Jonathan Franzen, a profile of J.K. Rowling as the world’s first billionaire author, a first-time feature on mega-star Diana Ross with all five of her children; and an interview with Katherine Jackson along with Michael Jackson’s children.
A Talent for Giving
Racking up some forty-seven Emmy Awards and earning the title “Queen of Daytime Television” would be more than enough to assure most people’s legacy to the world and give testimony to their life’s value. For Winfrey, however, the show represents only a fragment of her accomplishments. In between episodes, she also managed to add significant work as an actress to her résumé, found O Magazine, and launch Oprah Radio and Orpah.com.
Moreover, a penchant for giving back in a big way has become a huge part of her public persona. Any number of regular guests have benefitted from her proven “golden touch” and now enjoy the privilege of hosting their own programs.
The ultimate expression, however, of Winfrey’s desire to serve the needs of others ––outside of the 4,561 broadcasts of The Oprah Winfrey Show itself––may very well be her Angel Network, introduced on September 18, 1997. Through it, she has assisted in the construction of fifty-five schools in a dozen countries, provided homes for some sixty-five families who lost their ‘s to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and helped empower numerous other organizations and individuals to make a difference in the world with “Use Your Life Awards” of $100,000. But what she somehow seems to manage to give more than anything else and continuously enrich the world by doing so is the very essence of her own being.
by Aberjhani, National African American Art Examiner
co-author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
and co-author of ELEMENTAL the Power of Illuminated Love
Catch up on the Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from 2011
- Introduction to Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011
- Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011: No.10 Samuel L. Jackson’s $7 Billion Triumph
- Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011: No. 9 Belafonte’s New Song
- Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011: No 8 Execution in Georgia
- Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011: No. 7 And Still Women Rise
- Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011: No. 6 Jazzman Sonny Rollins
- Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011: No. 5 Those Now Departed
- Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011: No. 4 the MLK Jr. Memorial
- Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011: No. 3 Afro-descendants Worldwide
- Countdown of 10 Amazing Moments from the Year 2011: No. 2 President Obama