Over the years, Oprah has worked tirelessly to come up with new ways to use her success to give back to the world. In doing so, she’s created The Angel Network, which is a charity that describes its goal as “to inspire individuals to create opportunities that enable underserved women and children to rise to their potential.” The charity has gone on to found 55 schools in 12 countries, rebuilt homes in the areas that were most affected by Hurricane Katrina, and provided more than $1 million worth of school supplies and shoes to children all over the world. She’s also founded the The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls In South Africa, frequently donates to the Clinton Foundation, Project Cuddle, and Free The Children, and stipulates in her will that $1 billion of her fortune will go towards various charities.
And now to thank her for all the work she’s done to improve the world we live in, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will give her the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award on Saturday at the third annual Governors Awards in Los Angeles. The announcement that Oprah was to receive the honor was made over the summer, and a bit of controversy followed because critics argued that because she works in television and not film, she does not fit the description of someone who is even eligible to receive it. Oprah herself acknowledged that there is some discrepancy between the award’s description (which is presented to “an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry”) and got why people weren’t sure she deserved it, saying “I understood it because I was equally surprised. I was surprised because I am not known as an actress. I’ve done film and I love the films that I’ve done. I understand people thinking, ‘Where’s her list of credentials for films,’ “but I don’t think there’s room for criticism in the do-good department.” And yes, the award isn’t even a fraction of the proper thanks she deserves for working to make our communities better, but perhaps it’s the start of something that needed starting.