What do you give the girl that has everything?  Well, in Oprah’s case you give her an Oscar.  And not just any old Oscar, you give her the top of the line, Rolls Royce of Oscars, the one with the fancy leather seats and the jewel-encrusted steering wheel.

Okay so this Oscar doesn’t really have a jewel-encrusted steering wheel and Oprah won’t be able to drive it home from the AMPAS Governor’s Awards this November 12th.  But when Oprah is awarded the very prestigious Jean Hersholt Award, she will become a member of a very small and elite group.  And yet, Oprah still seems like an outsider in this class of accomplished individuals. No, her race is not the reason for her alienation.  Although she is the first African American woman to be honored as such, she is not the first African American to receive this award.  Quincy Jones holds that distinction. Jones received his Jean Hersholt Award in 1995.  Oprah’s distinction from her fellow recipients is that her movie career and credits number so few that many people feel as if this is just a giant mistake on the part of the Academy.

But is it?

One may just as well wonder, what does Quincy Jones, the Grammy decorated musician have to do with the Oscars?   That is easily answered as Jones’ musical genius has been a integral part of many films over the years garnering Jones the following Oscar nominations:

1968: Best Original Score In Cold Blood

1968: Best Song “The Eyes of Love” from Banning

1969: Best Original Song “For Love Of Ivy” from For Love Of Ivy

1979: Best Adapted Score The Wiz

1986: Best Original Score The Color Purple

1986: Best Original Song Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)” from  The Color Purple

1986: Best Picture The Color Purple

Quite an impressive list.  Jones has also had a long career as a producer, including The Color Purple and The 68th Annual Academy Awards, which happened to be in 1996, the year after Jones accepted his Hersholt Award. Nicely done, Mr. Jones.

A look at other Hersholt recipients reveals a commonality.  The 30 some odd other Hersholt awards grace the mantles of movie business executives and performers.  All of whom were deeply and inextricably connected to the movie business.  Certainly, Winfrey is a behemoth force in the television industry and one of the most successful women in the world.  But Winfrey’s film credits number only 6.  Most notably she was nominated for her performance in 1986’s The Color Purple. Her lack of credits has left a number of Hollywood insiders wondering, why Oprah?  Why not Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp or Sean Penn? Each of these actors is a powerful force in the film industry and each has a number of humanitarian efforts to boast over.

Some have mused that the award is being given to boost ratings on Oprah’s fledgling network OWN.  Or to boost ratings for the Oscar broadcast in February on which Winfrey is likely to appear at least for a moment.  These speculations are far from evident without some proof to support them.

Perhaps the Academy sees this award differently than the rest of the insiders or the public may see it.  When an individual achieves the level of success that Oprah has achieved it is common for people to look for them to fail.  To root for it even.  Couple success with a charitable and giving spirit and greatness becomes almost divine or heroic.  It is human nature to try and tear down greatness as witnessing greatness can make one judge one’s self as unworthy.  Rather than strive to better one’s self, it is much more tempting and easier to find the flaws in the hero to make oneself feel better in relation.  Clearly, the Academy has not fallen prey to this most enticing habit of the human race. The Academy sees Oprah as one of their own and one who deserves recognition in this matter.

I think I may see it the same way as the Academy does. Winfrey is, in fact, a member of the Academy.  And although her film credits are limited, her nomination in 1986 puts her in a different league altogether.  Let’s face it, this is an award specifically designed to give honor and praise to industry people for their actions and generosity in humanitarian matters.  Oprah Winfrey’s work in this arena is stunning.  One of her most influential projects has been the creation of the Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Winfrey is also involved in Rebuilding the Gulf Coast, The Clinton Foundation, Project Cuddle, Free the Children. The list goes on.  Winfrey’s efforts have undoubtedly changed the lives of countless people and her tireless generosity will continue to do so far beyond her life span.  So what if she is a member with few credits?  She may not have many but the quality of her work and the magnitude of her humanitarian efforts make Oprah Winfrey a grand choice for this award.