Oprah Winfrey is one of the most recognizable and inspirational figures in daytime television. A media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer, and philanthropist, she's been unbelievably successful and popular. And she's been working in broadcasting since she was 17, while still at school.
Oprah Winfrey was a clever and imaginative child who developed a love of reading at an early age. When living in Milwaukee with her mother, Oprah earned high marks at Lincoln High School, which led to her being transferred to Nicolet High School in the rich suburbs.
After a tumultuous and troubling time living with her mother, Winfrey ran away from home at the age of 13. She was then sent to live with her father Vernon in Nashville (although doubts have been cast that Vernon Winfrey is indeed Oprah's biological father).
Her biological father or not, Vernon Winfrey gave Oprah the structure she needed and placed a high value on education, requiring her to read a book each week and write a book report on it. Oprah attended East Nashville High School when living with her father, where she enjoyed public speaking. She was an honors student and a member of the school's speech team.
After graduating from high school, Oprah attended Tennessee State University on a full scholarship she had won in a public-speaking competition. She majored in Speech Communications and Performing Arts.
In her senior year at school, at the age of 17, Oprah got a job reading the news part-time for WVOL, a local radio station in Nashville.
While at college Oprah became a news co-anchor at Nashville's WLAC-TV station. At 19, she was the youngest news anchor and also the first black female news anchor at the station.
Oprah wanted to find work outside of Nashville and was soon offered a job at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, Maryland. The job offer came up a few months before graduation, and she had to choose between the job and graduating. She chose the job in Maryland as the offer was very tempting. She was soon removed as a news anchor but then offered the chance to be a talk show host on a morning show called People Are Talking. After the first show, Oprah knew this was what she wanted to do.
If you're looking to follow in Oprah Winfrey's successful footsteps, the key is apparently to start early. If you can get a job in your field while still in high school, that's the ticket. If not, education is paramount.