It has been a struggle for black celebrities to achieve equal status, the exception being Oprah Winfrey. She is often cited in polls as the most powerful and influential show business person and she is the only black billionaire in the world. This is a remarkable achievement, given her start in rural poverty and a dysfunctional family. Despite her difficult childhood, Winfrey rose to fame and fortune. Born in Mississippi, she began her career as a news anchor for a local station and then became involved as a co-host on a talk show. This led to the Oprah Winfrey Show, which received its first national broadcast in 1986. She never looked back and the show became the most watched talk show in the history of television. It influenced other talk shows that followed over the years. Winfrey used her position to foster better attitudes with regard to race and sexual identity. As one of the richest people in the world, she is also one of the most philanthropic, having raised money for many causes. She gives her own money away and it's said that she donates more money than any other American celebrity. Winfrey set up college scholarships for students who would not have been able to go to college if not for this financial assistance. One of the most talked about segments of her talk show is Oprah's Book Club. Winfrey recommends a classic or new book to her viewers and the result can be astonishing. These books, even from first time and obscure authors tend to shoot up the best seller list after her inclusion of t hem in the show. In addition to being a talk show host, Oprah Winfrey revealed an outstanding talent for acting in two impressive roles. In 1985, Steven Spielberg cast her as Sofia in The Color Purple. The film was adapted from the best selling book by Alice Walker and it was a story that was dear to Winfrey's heart. Her performance gave her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards. Oprah Winfrey went on to involve herself in another novel about the struggle for racial equality in 1998. She produced and starred in a film adaptation of Toni Morrison's Beloved. The future looks bright for this star with continuing success for her production company, Harpo Productions. Oprah Winfrey has used her position of wealth and fame for the good. She is an excellent role model for anyone who wants to make something of themselves against the odds.