Iyanla Vanzant is an accomplished author, inspirational speaker, talk show host and living testament to the value in life's valleys and the power of acting on faith, goes behind closed doors and deep inside people's lives for emotional, riveting conversations. The Emmy Award-winning Vanzant's latest project is “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” a reality show featuring the acclaimed spiritual life coach using her past to help others' futures.
Vanzant has had a unique life filled with many personal struggles, which she has overcome and used to become stronger. The author of 15 books, including five New York Times’ best sellers, Vanzant’s work has been translated into 23 languages and has sold over 8 million copies. With her no-nonsense approach and underlying message of “live better by loving yourself,” Vanzant has ignited the universal spark of self-discovery.
At age 30, Vanzant enrolled in Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York, from which she graduated summa cum laude three years later. Next she earned her law degree from City University of New York School of Law. It was here that her oratory skills, for which she is now so well known, caught the attention of the Philadelphia Public Defender’s Office, which offered her a job on the spot.
A few years later, Vanzant transitioned to a career in talk radio. Her first guest spot, in which she discussed moving from public assistance to personal independence — a subject she clearly was familiar with — so resonated with listeners and station management that she was given her own show. This prompted Vanzant to write her first book, “Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Women,” in which she told readers that they were the only ones with the power to change their lives for the better. The next 10 years were a whirlwind that catapulted her to national prominence and recognition. Vanzant became a regular guest expert on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and then on her own daily talk show, “Iyanla.”
“To many people because I'm on television they think one: they think because I wasn’t on television that I wasn't doing my work,” said Vanzant. “That's not true. And two, because I'm on television, they think I’m just beginning. This is my 29th year doing this work.”
In addition to her renowned work as a speaker and author, Vanzant is the founder and executive director of the Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development. With classes and workshops conducted throughout the United States, Africa and the United Kingdom, this multicultural global network of people seeks to facilitate healing, growth and spiritual development with the ultimate goal of experiencing peace, joy and love in every aspect of their lives.
“Inner Visions is 24 years old now, and I've been doing that for quite some time. That's where people come to me to do the work and that's where we do our classes and workshops. It is my ministry. If I don't do anything else in life, I must do Innervisions. ... It's gone through many, many transitions, and something that we're looking at now, something that I thought we would never do, is taking the programs online. We have such a large international audience now from all over the world, and everything is available online. Just to be able to share the teachings and information, and support people that I may never see, is mind boggling — and exciting.”
Vanzant’s 2010 book, “Peace from Broken Pieces,” chronicled her extraordinary professional success against the backdrop of personal tragedy as her marriage was crumbling and, tragically, her daughter was losing her battle with cancer. For now, she is committed to helping people fix their lives, so she is exploring other ways to present her books.
“My first book came out in 1988, and here we are 24 years later, and people still need the information,” explains Vanzant. “So, I don't know if it is about writing another book, as much as it is taking the books that have been written and dissecting them and making them more usable, practical and accessible to people. Now we have the Internet, so how do we take what's on the page and make it more interactive for people. So for me, anybody who got through 'Value in the Valley' and 'Acts of Faith,' should be soaring. But there is a whole community of people under the age of 24 who may not have even read that work, and there's another community of people over the age of 24 who may have read it but now need to take it to another level. So, I don't know if I need to write another book, but to take those that have already been written and re-present them so that people get another flavor of it.”
“Iyanla: Fix My Life” airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Join the conversation on Twitter using #IyanlaFixMyLife.