The award – which in the past has been presented to Jerry Lewis, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Sherry Lansing, Quincy Jones, Bob Hope, Audrey Hepburn, Charlton Heston and many others – is named after screen actor Jean Hersholt, who served as the president of the Motion Picture Relief Fund for 18 years.
“I never imagined myself receiving an Oscar, especially for what I’m considering my calling,” she said as she accepted the award. “All of us can make a difference through the life we lead. We’re all here to help each other.”
Oprah is well known for supporting educational initiatives and raising awareness of issues that affect women and children, both in the United States and around the globe. Her philanthropic efforts have included Oprah’s Angel Network, the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, which opened in 2007.
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an Oscar statuette, is given to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.