Iyanla Vanzant on Shedding Self-Hate

The self-help guru talks about reality star Evelyn Lozada and the common challenges that women face.

2012 Harpo Studios
2012 Harpo Studios

(The Root) — In a promo for her new show, Iyanla: Fix My Life, best-selling author and inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant tells Basketball Wives star Evelyn Lozada, “You’ve been rewarded for being a thug among women.” As the screen fades to black, Vanzant continues, “It’s going to cost you.”

That snippet is part of the OWN show’s explosive two-part series premiere on Sept. 15 and Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, in which Vanzant helps Lozada — known for her extremely violent behavior on Basketball Wives — get to the heart of what’s really fueling her life choices. The pair also dissects the alleged head-butting incident between Lozada and her estranged hubby, NFL star Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.

The revealing conversation is just one of many that Vanzant has with guests on her new program. And if anyone knows about going through hell and coming back on top, it’s Vanzant. She has survived childhood rape, verbal and physical abuse and teen motherhood. And over the past decade, Vanzant has been traversing through hellish difficulties: a dissolved relationship with The Oprah Winfrey Show, a failed television show, the death of her daughter, a third divorce and the depletion of the millions she earned that led to bankruptcy and home foreclosure.

In February 2011, Vanzant made a comeback before The Oprah Show audience in an unforgettable two-episode reunion with Oprah Winfrey during the show’s final season. Vanzant and Winfrey addressed the reasons behind their split and the challenges Vanzant had faced. The appearances on the show helped shoot Vanzant’s new book, Peace From Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.

By the end of the year, the rift was long forgotten and Vanzant was christened as one of OWN’s spiritual gurus. Born Rhonda Harris, the soon-to-be 59-year-old will share more aspects of her life with Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday this weekend.

The Root spoke with Vanzant about a myriad of topics, including her new show, experiences working with OWN, what’s plaguing people of color, the real reasons behind women’s disrespect toward one another and how African-American parents have failed their youths.

The Root: Iyanla: Fix My Life seems like a better fit than your previous talk show, Iyanla, which you did with Barbara Walters. How do the shows differ?

Iyanla Vanzant: I have a very clear intention for doing Iyanla: Fix My Life that is supported by both the production team and the network. That was not the case when I did Iyanla 11 years ago. The most important difference for me is that I have a much deeper understanding of who I am and my purpose on the planet. I recognize that this is not about doing television. It’s about being the truth of who I am and fulfilling my purpose in life. So it has a much different flavor.

TR: When you last spoke with The Root in 2010, you expressed a desire to reunite with Oprah, and voilà, you did. How has your life changed since your appearance on the show 18 months ago?

IV: My life has not changed. How I do my work has changed. The basic core of my life is about teaching and service to the world. About six months after I appeared on The Oprah Show, Ms. Winfrey invited me to do her Lifeclass show on OWN last fall.

After one of the Lifeclass shows, which aired once a week for six weeks, she said to me, “You know, you really need your own show.” And I said, “Really? You know, I’m OK.” And she said, “No, you need your own show.” That was it. So we started working on the concept [of this new show] last year.