Oprah Winfrey, the emblem of cultural influence and success, stands on the brink of her 70th birthday, yet shows no signs of slowing down. In a heartfelt conversation with PEOPLE for their latest cover story, Winfrey, who has become a household name as an actress, talk show host, and philanthropist, shares her unwavering commitment to life's journey.
"I will never be done until my last breath is done," she asserts, envisioning a tranquil conclusion to a life marked by relentless perseverance and achievement. With the upcoming Christmas release of "The Color Purple" musical - a reimagining of the 1985 film and Broadway adaptation of Alice Walker's novel - Winfrey reflects on her remarkable path, from her Oscar-nominated role as Sofia that catapulted her to fame to her enduring impact as a media powerhouse.
The project arrives as a timely celebration, coinciding with Winfrey's milestone birthday. In this introspective moment, Winfrey credits gratitude as her guiding principle, a belief that has shaped her world view significantly.
"Gratitude really is my religion," she shares, emphasizing the transformative power of appreciation, regardless of one's circumstances. This philosophy, she notes, has been a constant in her life, helping her recognize the abundance in the world rather than scarcity.
Oprah's Enduring Legacy
Winfrey's journey wasn't without its challenges. Raised in Milwaukee in a difficult environment marked by abuse and poverty, she acknowledges the grim prospects had her life not taken a different turn.
A pivotal move to Nashville to live with her father at age 14 set her on an unprecedented trajectory toward global recognition and influence. Throughout her career, including the 25 seasons of her groundbreaking talk show, Winfrey's mission has been to uplift and inspire others.
She recalls the wisdom imparted by Maya Angelou, her mentor and friend, who redefined the concept of legacy for her. "Your legacy is every life you've touched," Angelou told Winfrey, a message that continues to resonate with her.
As Winfrey gears up to celebrate another personal and professional milestone, she remains dedicated to her life's work of spreading kindness and hope. Inspired by Angelou's poem 'Continue', Winfrey's aspiration is clear: "My wish for you is that you continue to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness." And it is this path of unwavering kindness and continuous impact that Oprah Winfrey intends to tread, continuing to shape her enduring legacy.