×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Winfrey wages quiet war on shame

Eye on the Oscars: Governors Award

There was no single moment when Oprah Winfrey realized she wanted to give back to those less fortunate. The urge was always with her.

“I always knew because I was a girl that got saved,” says Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award honoree Winfrey. “I was saved by the kindness of people — some who knew me pretty well, others who didn’t know me at all. I’ve never forgotten how that made me feel as a human being.”

The multihyphenate, who founded the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa and the now-shuttered Oprah’s Angel Network, recalls an adolescence filled with shame over her family’s poverty. As a 12-year-old living on welfare in rural Mississippi with her mother and half-brother and -sister, she witnessed the power of giving when a group of nuns visited her house on Christmas Eve, bearing gifts and essentials.

“It wasn’t about the toys or even about the food,” Winfrey says. “It was about not having to be ashamed.”

Years later, after achieving fame and fortune, Winfrey decided to emulate the nuns’ Christmas gesture. She assembled a team of 50 in the United States and another 50 in South Africa and went from village to village bringing toys and clothes and books to the locals.

“I thought the kids would be happiest over the toys, but they were happiest over the clothes,” she says. “I remember saying to one of the workers, ‘God, I can’t believe they’re more excited over these cheap little skirts and tops than soccer balls.’ And she said to me, ‘The clothes help reduce the shame.’ And I got it. I thought that was a full-circle moment.”

And though Winfrey is worth an estimated $2.7 billion, according to Forbes, she prefers tithing to paying taxes. So she isn’t jumping on billionaire Warren Buffett’s call for the rich to pay more taxes.

“I feel that I am taxed enough,” she says. “If you looked at my income and imagined half of that going to taxes, I think I’ve done my share. Every time I come in on the interstate, I thank myself for it.”

Eye on the Oscars: Governors Award
After 50 years, Jones is still the Man | Smith remade makeup field | Winfrey wages quiet war on shame | Winfrey eyes return to acting

More Biz

  • Dwyane Wade on Supporting His Son

    NBA Star Dwyane Wade on Supporting His Son's Attendance at Miami Pride

    NBA star Dwyane Wade spoke to Variety about why it was important for him to support his younger son attending a pride parade last spring. In April, Wade’s then 11-year-old son Zion posted pictures of himself at Miami Pride, with his siblings and stepmother Gabrielle Union. Wade, who was on the road with the Miami [...]

  • Songs for Screens: Eric Church Teams

    Songs for Screens: How Eric Church Teamed With Ram Trucks — and Five Tons of Vinyl — for ‘Solid’ Campaign

    Country star Eric Church has long used his new music to reward his loyal fans, from surprise releasing 2015’s “Mr. Misunderstood” album as a direct fan-club exclusive to impromptu meet-and-greets before his hometown show in Greensboro, North Carolina. So when Church was prepping the April vinyl release of 2018’s critically acclaimed “Desperate Man,” the singer [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein legal team

    Harvey Weinstein Loses Another Defense Lawyer

    Harvey Weinstein has lost another defense lawyer, just three months before he is set to go on trial for rape and sexual assault. Attorney Jose Baez told the judge overseeing the case that Weinstein had taken actions that made it difficult to represent him, according to a letter obtained by the New York Post. Baez [...]

  • https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/kindred_spirits_2019_v7.jpg

    Kindred Spirits Host Fundraiser for Child Refugees

    The Kids Entertainment Professionals for Young Refugees will host its third annual Kindred Spirits fundraising campaign this month on behalf of UNICEF and in coordination with World Refugee Day, which is Thursday. The grassroots, volunteer organization’s online fundraiser will take place from June 14-27, and 100% of every donation made will benefit UNICEF. “We call [...]

  • Vid Angel

    VidAngel Hit with $62.4 Million Judgment for Pirating Movies

    A jury on Monday ordered VidAngel to pay $62.4 million to Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. for streaming hundreds of movies on its service without permission. The verdict is potentially a death blow to the Utah-based company, which sought to allow family audiences to watch Hollywood fare while skipping past violence, sex, and other objectionable [...]

  • Nicholas Sparks

    Nicholas Sparks Apologizes, Explains Opposition to LGBT Club

    Romance writer Nicholas Sparks issued an apology on Monday for remarks he made in 2013 opposing the formation of an LGBT club at his Christian school. In an email published last week by the Daily Beast, Sparks faulted Saul Benjamin, who was then the headmaster of the Epiphany School of Global Studies, for pushing an [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8 Production

    'Game of Thrones,' Netflix VFX Among Those to Be Featured in SIGGRAPH Production Talks

    VFX pros behind the final season of “Game of Thrones,” the blockbuster film “Avengers: Endgame,” Pixar’s upcoming “Toy Story 4,” last year’s Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Netflix series, including “Stranger Things,” and more will give SIGGRAPH 2019 attendees a behind-the-scenes look at their work during the conference’s Production Sessions. There will even be a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content