Oprah said eight years in Maryland at WJZ were 'most significant years of my life'
BALTIMORE -- Famed talk show host, media mogul and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey was back in Maryland where her career began.
She was in Annapolis Wednesday to introduce and support Wes Moore, who was sworn in as Maryland's first Black governor.
As Moore is set to find himself as an elected politician, Oprah found herself in Maryland, and in particular in Baltimore as a 6 p.m. anchor at WJZ-TV.
"I was just 22 years old when I first came to Maryland. I was starting a new job as a co-anchor of the 6 o'clock news at WJZ TV," Oprah said before introducing Moore as Maryland's 63rd governor.
Oprah credits her eight years in Baltimore, and at WJZ, for giving her the start she needed to launch her successful career.
She said she was just 22 years old when she left her home in Nashville to start her television career in Baltimore, working alongside anchor Jerry Turner.
Billboards and signs were plastered across Baltimore, saying "What's an Oprah?"
"As I walked around the city of Baltimore, that first week, I saw the strangest thing," Oprah said. "There promo campaign was my face on billboards and on the backs of buses, my face advertising the 6 o'clock news with Jerry Turner.
"A question on the buses and billboards said, 'What is an Oprah?'"
Oprah remembers her apartment on Windstream Drive in Columbia, becoming part of Bethel AME Church in Baltimore, and meeting friends Maria Shriver and Gayle King.
It was where Oprah said she was able to develop her creative spirit.
"When I moved to Maryland, I had no idea who I was or what an Oprah was," she said. "But Maryland is where I figured it out. The eight years that I lived here were some of the most significant years of my life."
Oprah said her career sparked after she was on the WJZ segment "People are Talking."
"Though it wasn't the job I moved here to do, it was the job that sparked by desire to use televisions to tell stories that would impact people's lives," Oprah said.
Now, back in Maryland, Oprah is supporting Moore to change lives.
"Most important, in Maryland, I found myself," Oprah said. "This state is something special. It's a place where so many others have done and will do exactly what I've done."
Oprah said she met Moore in 2010 when she interviewed him after he had his book published.
She said he called her on January 6 and said he was running for Maryland governor.
"I always walk away with a conversation with Wes Moore with a new perspective, with new ideas, with a new way of seeing things, a new burst of positive energy. That's what you do for people," Oprah said.
Moore is an Army veteran and former nonprofit executive. He has lived in Baltimore with his wife Dawn since 2016. They have two children Mia and James.
He's a Johns Hopkins graduate, a Rhodes scholar, and a soldier who fought in Afghanistan. He worked as an investment banker, and ran Robin Hood, a non-profit organization.
He started and eventually sold a small business called BridgeEdU, which, according to his website, "reinvents freshman year of college for underserved students to increase their likelihood of long-term success."
During his four years as CEO of the anti-poverty nonprofit Robin Hood Foundation, the organization distributed more than $600 million to help impoverished families.
"This might be his first day as an elected official, But Wes Moore has been a public servant his entire adult life," Oprah said. "And there's so much more to come. He's just getting started."
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