The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy is a school for disadvantaged girls in South Africa, opened on January 02, 2007. It's inaugural class of 72 girls graduated in 2011. The project started in 2002, born out of a discussion Oprah had with South African president Nelson Mandela about combating poverty.
Oprah invited at the end of 2006 approximately 250 close friends to join her in Africa and hosted four days of spectacular events leading up to the academy’s opening reception. The guest list included a montage of media personalities, actors, singing sensations, and of course her long-time partner, Stedman Graham and her best friend Gayle King. The event started in Sun City with a birthday party for Gayle King and a safari the next day. The New Year's Eve began with a dinner and at the stroke of midnight a visual extravaganza of sparklers lit up the tables, stage and dance floor. Mary J. Blige performed „No More Drama,“ followed by Tina with her famous Simply The Best. The next day, they met all in Johannesburg for dinner and conversation and on February 02, in the small town of Henley-on-Klip, guests gathered while Nelson Mandela delivered an inspiring speech for the opening of the academy.
An one-hour TV-Special about Oprah’s five-year journey in creating this academy was broadcasted on ABC on February 26, 2007, including many scenes with Oprah’s special guests and Tina Turner. The special was later also released on home video under the title Building A Dream: The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy.