Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has made it no secret that her early childhood growing up in an impoverished Mississippi during the 1950s, moving to live with her father during her adolescence, and her first big break in local news are all significant milestones in her life’s story.
Now, with a career spanning three decades, the accumulation of numerous accolades, and being named only one of seven Black billionaires in the U.S., Winfrey’s life story will finally be explored in a two-part biographical documentary.
In partnership with Apple+, Academy Award-winning director Kevin MacDonald and Emmy-nominated producer Lisa Erspamer — with her Happy Street Entertainment production company — will recall 25 years of history all through the lens of the Oprah Winfrey Show, and of course, the media-mogul herself. The duo was behind the Whitney Houston biographical documentary, “Whitney.”
Winfrey’s long-running talk show debuted in September 1986. During its tenure, the who’s who of Hollywood graced the stage, stars divulged secrets during interviews recorded in front of a live studio audience, and topics on the pulse of America were discussed with everyday people. After 24 seasons, the show came to an end in May 2011, just five months after Winfrey launched the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
With the creation of OWN, Winfrey and her team paved new ground for creatives to bring forth new scripted programming, and a reimagining of reality television with shows such as “Iyanla, Fix my Life” and the highly anticipated “Belle Collective.”
“Oprah doesn’t have to do a network. It’s not easy. Her willingness to put a stake in the ground, and create space for artists to tell stories — from a woman who knows the impact of storytelling — is profound,” said “Love Is” co-creator and producer Mara Brock Akil.
Though many may sing her praises, Winfrey has also endured criticism. In 2020, the mogul was on the receiving end of backlash for her decision to executive produce a documentary exploring accounts of women who were allegedly sexually assaulted by Russell Simmons.
Winfrey later announced she would not move forward with work on the film due to creative differences.
“I believe the women’s voices deserve to be heard, and as an executive producer I was also in a position where I think things were not right. I wanted the context of the story to be broadened, I wanted more women to be brought in,” said Winfrey during an interview on “CBS This Morning.”