Iyanla Vanzant is the author of seventeen titles; six-time New York Times bestselling author; four-time NAACP Image Award recipient; three-time Gracie Award winner, three-time Honorary Degree recipient, are not the best ways to describe Iyanla Vanzant. Mother, grandmother, good girlfriend, wise-woman, life coach, spiritual teacher, soul technician, attorney, and “the fixer” are better but still, not quite right. Minister, prayer warrior, servant, cultural custodian and student of life are the words she would use because this captures the presence of her being and the essence of her soul.
Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant, author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of personal development and spiritual empowerment is best known for her riveting work as the host of Iyanla Fix My Life on the OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). Oprah herself has called Iyanla, “the most powerful spiritual healer, fixer, teacher, on the planet.” Susan Taylor, former editor of Essence Magazine calls her, “The real deal, in the arena of personal healing and growth.” Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love says, “Iyanla is a walking, talking, miracle in heels, who carries the energy to heal the masses.” And, many of the 2 million plus, who follow her on FaceBook loving refer to her as, “auntie.” Yet, if you ask Iyanla she would say, I am just an ordinary person committed to doing extraordinary things as a demonstration of what is possible when you love God, have faith in yourself, and trust the amazing process called life.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Iyanla did not have an easy life. The product of an extra-marital affair, she lost her mother at the age of 2. Shuffled between family members, suffering physical and sexual abuse, Iyanla gave birth to her first child at the age of 16. By age 21 she was the mother of three, live on public assistant in the projects. After spending nine-years in an abusive relationship, she found her way to Medgar Evers College. 3 and a half years later, she graduated Summa Cum Laude, with a degree in Public Administration and Education. Immediately after graduating, she entered the City University Law School at Queens College as a member of the inaugural class. After graduation, she made her way to Philadelphia where she served in the Public Defender’s office. It was the urging of a still, small voice that told her to leave the Defender’s Office, and never return.
Two years later, after being evicted from her home, Iyanla was sleeping on a friend’s sofa when she got a call to teach women on public assistance who were preparing to rejoin the work force. She created a workbook for her students entitled: Tapping the Power Within. When that title turned twenty years old in 2009, Iyanla had authored thirteen additional titles including; Acts of Faith: Daily Meditation for People of Color; The Value In The Valley: A Black Woman’s Guide Through Life’s Dilemmas; Until Today: Daily Devotions for Spiritual Growth and Peace of Mind; Yesterday I Cried: Celebrating the Lessons of Living and Loving; The Spirit of a Man: A Vision of Transformation for Black Men and the Women Who Love Them; Every Day I Pray : Prayers for Awakening to the Grace of Inner Communion; and In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want.
In 1994, Iyanla and her daughter Gemmia opened the doors to the Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development, which offers classes and workshops for Personal Development, certification for Spiritual Life Coaching, and training for ministers of Spiritual Consciousness. As a life coach on NBC’s first daytime reality program, Starting Over, Iyanla supported women in finding their way back to themselves, and onto a new path in life. As the host of her own daytime talk show, Iyanla inspired viewers with her down-to-earth style and wicked humor before she left the television arena to pursue her Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica. It was Iyanla’s personal quest for healing that inspired her to study Tapping, the Emotional Freedom Technique, a therapeutic psychological tool that draws on various theories of alternative medicine including acupuncture, neuro-linguistic programming, energy medicine, and Thought Field Therapy (TFT). Today, Iyanla is a certified Tapping practitioner, a Certified Aromatherapist, and is currently studying to become a Master herbalist. According to Iyanla, each of these technologies has supported her in recognizing and understanding the role energy plays in the ability of an individual to have dominion in every area of their life.
“I went to school to study man’s law and along the way developed a renewed love and respect for God’s law and universal principles that have nothing to do with religion.” Iyanla shares her deep respect for and knowledge of spiritual law and principle in her fourth New York Times bestselling title: One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days And 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth and again in her fifth New York Times bestselling title; Peace From Broken Pieces, where she chronicles her own healing journey after the death of her daughter. As an ordained minister and Yoruba priestess, Iyanla has garnered a deep and abiding respect for the tenacity of the human spirit and the power of the human mind that she offers to her loyal readers and faithful followers in a very practical way; do your work!
“It’s not the television show, or the red carpets or knowing how many followers I have that keeps me going. It’s remembering the truth of who I am; a girl from Brooklyn, who has made many, many mistakes and is still God’s Beloved.” Cooking and scrapbook making are her guilty pleasures. Making soap and body products is her hobby. Studying the Bible and other sacred texts is the foundation of her life. Watching re-runs of Law and Order is her joy. Spending time with her grandchildren and doing her own laundry is what keeps her grounded. Knowing that she is on purpose, loving what she does, and doing everything with excellence is what Iyanla Vanzant says makes her the woman that she is today.