Celebrities Who Owe Their Careers to Oprah

-Courtney Enlow

Oprah is a holy human, better than the rest of us. As such, she can create greatness from nothing. With her stamp of approval, a mediocre TV chef is the head of a million-dollar cooking empire.

With her support, a “retired” (no longer licensed) psychologist is a self-help talk show star with more than 2,000 episodes under his belt. Here are just a few of the stars who owe it all to the mighty O.

Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil McGraw hasn’t been a licensed psychologist since 2006 when he “retired” from practice. But that hasn’t stopped Dr. Phil the TV show, now in its 12th season. While many question his techniques, abilities, and the show’s concept of good taste, McGraw pulls in $15 million a year and millions or viewers.

Dr. Oz

In the vein of Oprah-approved doctors who seem like fake doctors, Mehmet Oz is actually a very fancy, well-trained doctor. He did his undergrad at Harvard, his MD and MBA at UPenn, and is a professor at Columbia University. But what do we think of when we think Dr. Oz? Diet pills that don’t work. And that one is on him, because he keeps talking up diet pills that don’t work. Such is the life of an Oprah-made millionaire.

Lindsay Lohan

I'll give this to Her Royal O-ness: she doesn't back away from a challenge. And never has there been more of a challenge than Lindsay Lohan. Oprah tried her best, giving the perpetually falling star a second third thousandth chance thanks to a reality show on OWN. But, when she proved uncooperative, finally even Oprah had to admit defeat — to Lohan's face, famously telling her "you need to cut the bullshit."

Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo

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Selma is the most acclaimed project to date for both the director and leading actor, who each received Golden Globe nominations for their work. As producer, Oprah likely had a large part in getting the now Oscar-nominated film into the right hands just in time for award season. On a personal level, Oyelowo credits Winfrey with "mothering" him throughout filming by reminding him to get enough sleep before stepping into Dr. King's shoes.

Suze Orman

Orman is a smart person — she knows money and she knows jackets. And her money game is tight and her jacket game is tighter. She explains financial info in a way those of us who barely passed junior-year algebra can understand, and it’s worked great for her—her annual income is about $10 million a year.

Rachael Ray

For starters, one of Ray’s greatest claims to fame is the abbreviation of extra virgin olive oil into the letters EVOO, which she recites and then explains using the full words. That minor quibble aside, Ray is now one of the world’s richest chefs, second only to Gordon Ramsay and a whole lot nicer.

Nate Berkus

Sigh. Nate Berkus. He’s so dreamy and so is his line of office supplies at Target. My reminder note to write this article is even hung using studded push pins from the Nate Berkus line. He’s had books, TV shows and, after a major personal tragedy losing his partner in the 2004 tsunami, his personal life is great, too. He and his husband Jeremiah Brent were the first same-sex couple to appear in ads in both Rolling Stone and InStyle magazines. The two are expecting their first child.

Iyanla Vanzant

Sometimes, your life needs fixed. That’s when you need Iyanla: Fix My Life. Then Iyanla will come and fix your life. And she knows how. After enduring horrific abuse in her youth and personal pain as an adult, she is a juris doctor, an ordained New Thought minister, and an ordained Yoruba priestess. She has a show on OWN, has authored several books and is a self-help icon.


OK, Spanx may not be a person but they are arguably among the greatest celebrities on this list. Where would we be without the loving snuggle of Spanx caressing our thighs and guts into submission so we can stuff ourselves into that bandage dress like the human sausages we were born to be? Thanks, Oprah. Thanx, Spanx.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]