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April 22, 2020

Iyanla Vanzant's Roller-Coaster Relationship and Friendship with Oprah Winfrey

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Iyanla Vanzant's show "Fix My Life" is one of the most successful on the Oprah Winfrey Network. However, there have been some ups and downs in their relationship over the years.

As an author, lawyer, spiritual teacher, life coach, and inspirational speaker, Iyanla has always had plenty of counseling skills, mainly because of her no-nonsense, tough-loving style.

"You did the wrong thing, and you're being punished."

Iyanla Vanzant on October 05, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia | Photo: Getty Images



Oprah noticed it, and she invited Iyanla to her show to serve as a relationship expert. Between 1998 and 1999, she made around 20 appearances, earned the status of a rising star, and was considered one of Oprah Winfrey's protégés.  

Unfortunately, due to what Iyanla called a "breakdown of communication," their relationship deteriorated so much that they didn't talk to each other for 11 years.

Iyanla Vanzant on August 15, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan | Photo: Getty Images


Initially, Iyanla and the people of Harpo, the production company founded by Oprah, agreed that she would get her own show. However, she needed to wait for it.

Eventually, producer and ABC News journalist Barbara Walters (and some other production companies) noticed the potential in Iyanla Vanzant and offered her an opportunity to get her own program.


Because of that, she considered that she was ready for her show, so she came back to Harpo and asked if they were willing to roll with it. According to Iyanla, her mistake was telling them that she had got calls from production companies willing to give it a go. She added:

"[I didn't know] the nuance in the business that they received that as me trying to leverage a deal. And they were insulted and offered the invitation not to come back."

Iyanla Vanzant attends the 49th NAACP Image Awards Non-Televised Award Show on January 14, 2018 | Photo: Getty Images



After that, Iyanla got her show on ABC, but it was not successful. For the following 11 years, she kept herself busy doing her job away from the TV. Then, in 2011, Oprah invited her back to the "Oprah Winfrey Show" to solve their problems publicly.

Iyanla confessed that people never stopped wondering what had happened between them, and they would even create rumors about her sleeping with Steadman Graham, Oprah's longtime partner.

Iyanla Vanzant on November 4, 2017 in Washington, DC | Photo: Getty Images


The "Fix My Life" host revealed that what they did was "divine." Not only did they make amends but showed people how they should have a conversation to heal a breakdown.

Apart from that, Iyanla said that if things had happened differently, their reunion would not have been as sweet as it was. She also said that, after leaving, she felt hurt because she didn't understand what she had done.

Iyanla Vanzant at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 7, 2018 | Photo: Getty Images



Iyanla added that she felt guilty, as well, because her story had been, "I always do the wrong thing." Apart from that, she considered that after Oprah and her team let her go, they were telling her, "you did the wrong thing, and you're being punished."

Oprah also confessed that "all things are lessons" sent by God so that people learn from them. Fortunately, Iyanla could learn from the 11-year rift between her and Oprah.


Nowadays, they are in a much better place. In fact, she has been hosting "Fix My Life" since September 2012, and it is one of OWN's most successful shows.

Iyanla Vanzant's rift with Oprah Winfrey has not been the only difficulty that she has had in her life. Unfortunately, her life has not been a walk in the park.



Not only her birth mother passed away when she was only two years old, but she also suffered a miscarriage, was in a violent relationship, faced bankruptcy, and underwent a tough divorce.

The hardest thing in her life, though, was losing her daughter. Iyanla had three children: Gemmia, Damon, and Nisa. In 2002, a couple of years after she left Oprah's show, Gemmia was diagnosed with a rare form of colon cancer.


Sadly, after dealing with the disease for 15 months, Iyanla's daughter passed away. She was only 30 years old. It broke Iyanla's heart, and she even got depressed about it for a long time.

Eventually, the TV personality said to herself that she was being dramatic and made herself process her loss in a better way and move on.

The lawyer and author also revealed that, when she was at her lowest, she found a letter written to God by Gemmia that saved her life.

At the moment, Iyanla Vanzant is 66 years old and is focused on her show "Fix My Life." So far, nine seasons and 122 episodes have been aired.