Iyanla Vanzant isn’t just the woman who offers support to people in trouble on her new OWN show “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” debuting September 15 at 10 p.m. with Evelyn Lozada. (A second follow-up show with Lozada airs on September 22 at 10 p.m.) The author/teacher/healer knows of what she speaks – having overcome domestic violence, her son’s incarceration, her daughter’s death, losing her home and a divorce. Vanzant even humbled herself on national television in one of the most gripping Oprah episodes ever, where she apologized to the media mogul for not being ready for her first opportunity. Fortunately, Oprah can forgive; a concept that is central to Vanzant’s new show. She didn’t hesitate making the most of her second chance. Vanzant’s already starred on “Lifeclass” with Oprah and this new show will continue in that healing vein.
“Iyanla: Fix My Life’s” first guest, controversial reality star Evelyn Lozada, became even more controversial after accusing her soon to be ex-husband, former NFL star Chad Johnson of domestic abuse. Here’s what Vanzant had to say about Oprah, Lozada and what to expect on her new show.
Blackamericaweb.com: Tell us a little bit about the new show.
Iyanla Vanzant: Our formula is very simple. We look at whatever the problem is and explore some of the possible causes for whatever the problem is and we offer a solution and then support the guest in enacting the solution. We look at real people with real issues and offer practical resolution – skills, tools and information that will bring them to evolution or at least the possibility of solution. What’s often missed in the reality genre is that we look at dysfunction and issues as entertainment and there’s no resolution.
Blackamericaweb.com: How is this different from your last reality TV show “Starting Over?”
Iyanla Vanzant: It’s similar in the sense that we deal with individual real life challenges. The distinction here is that I go to the people and in “Starting Over” they came to me. I’m actually going to the people’s house, in their home, in their environment and I think that is safer for them and it makes me the vulnerable party because I’m the one coming in. It also creates a great intimacy. You kind of appreciate when someone comes to help you.
Blackamericaweb.com: What kinds of problems are you dealing with on the show and are you focusing on women only?
Iyanla Vanzant: Eight to eighty, blind, crippled and trying not to be crazy! (Laughs). It’s the challenges that we all face in life. On our premiere show, I’m working with Evelyn Lozada before there were any problems in her marriage. Nobody is immune. We all have challenges. Money, fame, fortune and a big house doesn’t make you immune to the challenges or the blessings of life. What we look at is her, because she is the one that reached out and I went to support her. I’m sure there are things we talked about that may have a foreshadowing of what [happened later].
Blackamericaweb.com: Will “Iyanla: Fix My Life” be viewer-generated? Going forward will people be able to write into you and ask to be on the show?
Iyanla Vanzant: That’s how it works now. All of our guests wrote in to us in response to an inquiry or in response to a Lifeclass. All of our guests wrote into us. We didn’t cast any of these people. They came to us.
Blackamericaweb.com: So many people watched you and Oprah reconcile on her show. That was pretty amazing, because it illustrated the kinds of issues and misunderstandings that often come up between African-American women. How were you able to shape that conversation so that it ultimately turned out to be healing and allowed the two of you to work together again?
Iyanla Vanzant: That was our intention. To have the conversation that was a demonstration of healing. What we brought to the conversation was the willingness to hear, a willingness to listen and a willingness to tell our truth, which we hadn’t done prior to that. I’m so grateful that people got that this was not just me and Oprah having a conversation but how to heal a breakdown in a relationship particularly for women and women of color.
Blackamericaweb.com: What are the biggest lessons that people can take not just from that conversation but from your new show?
Iyanla Vanzant: My work right now from “Lifeclass” to “Iyanla: Fix My Life” is about giving people skills, tools and information they need to be better across the board no matter what the issue is. Number 1: Tell. The.Truth. We keep making up stories and eliminating facts and changing situations and scenarios. We have to learn to tell the radical, ruthless, gut-level truth about who we are, what we need, what we want, what we do, what we don’t do, what works, what doesn’t work – there are so many things that we lie about or that we withhold information about. We’ve got to learn to be authentic. Show up as who you are and stop trying to be who you are not. Call a thing a thing. Stop making excuses for bad behavior and wrongdoing. Forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness! Did I mention that forgiveness will be a big theme in “Iyanla: Fix My Life?” I would say those four things are the common themes throughout all the shows.
Watch an extended preview here of "Iyanla:Fix My Life."