Iyanla Vanzant says a breakdown of communication led to the demise of her and Oprah Winfrey’s relationship but marveled at the way the pair were able to mend their bond.
The two connected after Winfrey read Vanzant’s book, “In the Meantime,” in her book club. Then, Winfrey invited the OWN star onto her talk show in 1998. But when Winfrey began grooming Vanzant for a talk show of her own, the “Iyanla Fix My Life” star admitted she “broke some protocols.”
“I violated some protocols in the industry because I just didn’t know,” Vanzant, who says she grew up in the hood, tells “The Breakfast Club” Wednesday, May 9. “I didn’t have a manager, I didn’t have an agent. I was going up to talk to people like they was at the Key Food. … And so, not understanding that about me and being in this industry, it was assumed that I was leveraging — which I wasn’t. I didn’t even know what that stuff was … I just asked for what I wanted.”
Vanzant said she was on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” doing “Change Your Life” TV, when other networks began approaching her. That’s when she began thinking of doing her own show. However, she wanted to do it with Winfrey. But when Vanzant approached her about it, she said it was ill received.
“I was just being naive and stupid and asking. But it wasn’t received well,” Vanzant explains. “And that created a breakdown in communication. But we were able to repair that. It took 11 years … They didn’t think I was ready but that was never communicated to me. So I’m saying, ‘Well, if they asking for me, why can’t we do it here?'”
Vanzant left O’s show to do her own at ABC, which ended up getting canceled. Then, the former lawyer spent time working off-air. After she and Winfrey worked through the breakdown 11 years later, Vanzant, who was welcomed on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” during the final 25th season to air out their grievances, joined Winfrey’s “Life Class” show. But Winfrey told Vanzant she needed to get her own program. Thus, “Iyanla Fix My Life” became a staple of the Winfrey-founded OWN Network.
On that show, she’s tried to help celebrities get their lives on track, including rapper DMX, reality star/rapper Hazel E and actress/model Karrueche Tran. After the latter’s episode aired, Tran told “The Angie Martinez Show” that she regretted going on the program
“I was confused… I don’t know,” Tran said in 2017. “I think the way it was translated might not have been the best. It was a weird thing because afterward, I felt like I wanted to kill myself, not literally, but I wanted to just get in bed and not look at my phone but then a lot of women said that they loved it.”
Meanwhile, her manager, Jacob York, claimed Vanzant was bullying his client and that the life coach “fake pretends she’s trying to help” people, a claim later made by the family of kidnap victim Kamiyah Mobley.
Additionally, after Tran’s episode aired, fans lashed out at Vanzant claiming similar things.
“This woman is fake as hell,” someone commented.
“Oh noooo …where is Oprah? This woman here is abusing this young gal emotionally…lol…its like she is putting words in her mouth….so not fair….she is soooo beautiful.”
But Vazant had a different interpretation of what happened on the show. “They came to us, I didn’t come to them,” Vanzant says in response at the 27:31 mark. “There’s no locks, there’s not gates. We were in her house. She didn’t put me out. … They came to us thinking that to be on my show was gon push her to the next level. And then, when they got there and realized that I don’t play, I don’t do publicity and marketing. And when I asked [Tran] some hard questions, [York] wanted to pull it out. … And they wanted to craft and construct what I did.
“Here’s the truth: I walked out on her,” she continues. “He pulled her out of the room and said he didn’t want these questions and I left. They had to talk me back. That’s the truth. But I don’t have any issue with Karrueche, I don’t think at that time her management was in her best corner, but look where she is now.”