theGrio’s 100: Iyanla Vanzant, polarizing self-help guru is breakout star of OWN

Life Coach and Author Iyanla Vanzant speaks onstage at the 2013 WICT Leadership Conference at the New York Marriott on October 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Women in Cable Telecommunications)

Life Coach and Author Iyanla Vanzant speaks onstage at the 2013 WICT Leadership Conference at the New York Marriott on October 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Women in Cable Telecommunications)

Who is Iyanla Vanzant?

Author, life coach and spiritual advisor Iyanla Vanzant became a household name back in the 1990s after making several high-profile appearances on the iconic The Oprah Winfrey Show. However, Vanzant had a behind the scenes falling out with the talk show icon when she decided she wanted to launch her own program. The Iyanla Show failed after one season in 2002 and she and Oprah repaired their rift publicly in 2011.

Why is she on theGrio’s 100?

After admitting that her initial show’s cancellation sent her into a deep depression, Vanzant bounced back in a major way this past year with her hit show on Oprah’s OWN network, Fix My Life. In high profile (and often confrontational) episodes with celebrities like Maia Campbell, Evelyn Lozada and, most infamously, DMX, she has drawn newfound attention from both fans and critics. While some people believe her tough love style of self-help is counter-productive and exploitative, few can dispute its success in earning ratings. After a shaky start, OWN has become a profitable cable success story and Fix My Life is significant factor in its rise.

What’s next for Iyanla?

Vanzant recently hosted a special edition of Oprah’s Lifeclass focusing on the plight of “fatherless sons.”

“Fatherless sons are the babies in the midst of the drama between the mother and the father. And they’re dropping out of high school. They’re ending up in jail. They’re killing each other. All of these things are going on. We just seem to have our hands tied. We have to talk about the impact on a young man’s life when his father isn’t there. We have to talk about the humanity, the human qualities, of what happens when a child has a missing parent.”  she told theGrio last Spring.

And Vanzant will continue to focus on these universally important issues on her own show. “We don’t do Fix My Life for celebrities, and Fix My Life for normal people. We doFix My Life looking at the issues. And that’s what we’re fixing. The issues. So it doesn’t matter to me whose name is attached to it.”