As Oprah Winfrey turns 65, here's a look at what brings her joy and peace
Oprah Winfrey is 65 — and the icon isn’t slowing down in her remarkable career.
The media mogul has never hidden her love of surprising people and handing out lavish gifts as she told PEOPLE in March 2018 when she recounted the new way she tipped her housekeeper.
“This made me so happy recently: People never leave money for the housekeepers in a hotel,” she said at the time. “I usually just leave the money on the pillow, but this time I put it all over the room: under the desk, on the counter with the M&Ms, in the shower.”
She added, “As I was leaving, I was like, ‘Somebody is going to be happy today, yes!'”
Giving back to friends or strangers is nothing new for the former talk show host, who became famous in part because of the gifts she would give her studio audience during The Oprah Winfrey Show.
“Nothing makes me happier than to see other people in their purest moments of joy,” Winfrey shared. “Sometimes, honest to goodness, I’m just sitting around thinking, ‘What could I do to make somebody feel really good today?'”
She continued, “To be able to do that for somebody, that’s one of the great joys of my life.”
Another joy in her life? The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa where she is simply Mom O.
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“They are my greatest, deepest joy,” Winfrey told PEOPLE recently. Opened in 2007, OWLAG, as it’s called, is a boarding school for young girls who have “been in the heart and heat of poverty.”
She added, “I wanted to build a school for girls who are like me.”
Winfrey was born in 1954 in Mississippi to her mother Vernita Lee, who was a teenager at the time, and Vernon Winfrey.
Lee passed away on Thanksgiving Day at her home in Milwaukee at the age of 83. Winfrey told PEOPLE, “I knew my mother was dying” and found that music gave her the “opening to say what I needed to say” before her mother died.
“What I said was, ‘Thank you. Thank you, because I know it’s been hard for you. It was hard for you as a young girl having a baby, in Mississippi. No education. No training. No skills. Seventeen, you get pregnant with this baby. Lots of people would have told you to give that baby away. Lots of people would’ve told you to abort that baby. You didn’t do that. I know that was hard. I want you to know that no matter what, I know that you always did the best you knew how to do. And look how it turned out.’”
She added, “I feel complete. I feel really, really moved by all the people who’ve reached out to me. I got a really lovely note, just yesterday, from Jimmy Fallon (whose mom Gloria died in 2017) saying, ‘My mom’s up there, too, so if your mom has a party, tell her to call my mom.’ I feel like it was as sacred and as blessed as a passing can be.”