Oprah Winfrey was told she was the “wrong color” to be a news anchor early in her career.
The 65-year-old – who became North America’s first black billionaire in 2003 – has become one of television’s best-known stars, but she has opened up about her shaky start in the industry before finding her calling on Baltimore TV show ‘People Are Talking’ in August 1978.
Writing in her new book ‘The Path Made Clear’, she said: “Up until then I’d been a news anchor and reporter. I was terrible. I knew it. My bosses knew it and certainly made no secret of their feelings.
“They told me I was the wrong color, the wrong size and that I showed too much emotion. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. Even now, when I look back on the tapes, I can still hear the pretend anchor voice I used on air.”
However, her change of direction on WJZ-TV was the spark Oprah – who was just 24 when she moved up alongside Richard Sher on the talk show – needed to find her true passion.
She added: “But after one day on this local talk show I was energized in a way that fuelled every cell of my being. There was no doubt that the seeds of what was to give my life meaning and purpose had been planted. That day my job ended and my calling began.”
The star has opened up in the past about being axed from her role as an evening news reporter, before being given a position on a daytime TV show.
However, in her new book, she has revealed her advice on looking for a path in life, and she concluded that while it’s natural “to be afraid”, it’s about taking a chance regardless.
She wrote: “The true meaning of courage is to be afraid – and then, with your knees knocking and your heart racing, take the leap anyway.”
Oprah Winfrey has established her name with the media industry. Starting small as a news reporter, Oprah popularised day television with her show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’ She has gone on to create a the OWN Network a joint venture between Discovery Inc and Harpo Studios. Since it debuted on January 1st, 2011, the network continues to expand its reach, airing in approximately 80 million homes.