Iyanla Vanzant Talks About New Book and TV Show

Backtalk with Iyanla Vanzant

Inspirational guru Iyanla Vanzant has made quite a comeback in the last two years. First she released a new book, Peace from Broken Pieces (SmileyBooks; $24.95), which landed on the The New York Times best-sellers list, and then reconciled with Oprah Winfrey. Her self-help show, Iyanla, Fix My Life, debuted on OWN this fall. The 59-year-old author and life coach opens up about her return to television and life lessons.

What is Fix My Life?
It is about giving people the tools they need to fix their own lives. I step into their lives for a brief period to look at whatever challenges they are confronting … unemployment, relationship issues, loss of dreams or hopes. We want to make the issues as common and as broad as possible so that the viewer as well as the guest can learn and heal.

Millions watched your reappearance on Oprah’s show. What was it like to reunite after 11 years?
Just like everybody else, there are breakdowns that occur in relationships. For me that conversation was a demonstration to the world of what is required to heal a breakdown in a relationship. We didn’t go into [it] to be reunited. It wasn’t planned. We entered that conversation to clear [the air] and to heal. [Oprah wanted to have me] on the show. Neither one of us knew that conversation was going to occur like that where she became a guest on her show.

So how does it feel to work together again and to have a show on OWN?
I have supported OWN from day one. An African American woman owning a television network is a huge thing. Whether it is Cathy Hughes and TV One or Oprah Winfrey and OWN, as a black woman it is my ancestral responsibility to be a fan, rooting for my sisters.

Your new book details enormous success and tremendous loss. How do you get over loss?
You move beyond loss one day at a time, one step at a time. Pain doesn’t come from what we go through; it comes from how we go through it. Everything comes through us to help us to learn, grow, and heal. Life happens. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is not. We think if we work hard enough, earn enough degrees, or have enough money we will be immune to the learning, growing, healing, and opportunity. No one is immune.

Is it true that at one point you had Eminem as your ringtone?
“Lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go, you only get one shot, don’t miss your chance to blow, opportunity comes once in a lifetime” and “success is my only option, failure’s not.” That’s in the song. I love it and Eminem.

Are you living your life’s purpose?
I have been on purpose now for about 30 years. I write books and I teach the concepts of those books. I am a teacher and it is for that purpose I was born.