Iyanla Vanzant rejects claims that she capitalized on Evelyn Lozada’s crisis
Life coach Iyanla Vanzant not only fixes peoples’ lives, she could also save a struggling network. Her new original primetime series Iyanla: Fix My Life premiered on OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network on September 15 featuring a one-on-one with Basketball Wives star Evelyn Lozada, and it achieved the network’s highest ratings ever. The major debut marks an ascent for the channel, which previously was almost solely known by Winfrey’s interview series, Oprah’s Next Chapter.
Fresh off her buzz-worthy opening, Vanzant stands to take OWN to new levels, yet the 59-year-old says the new gig is nothing she wasn’t doing already. In fact, even Winfrey has given her free reign to take the spotlight and run.
“She didn’t give me any advice, she’s very supportive,” Vanzant told theGrio following a special screening of her next episode at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles on Tuesday. “But, you know, I’m a good student, and I’ve watched her. So, her advice has come through her being-ness. Do what you love. Do what you’re good at. Be yourself.”
She adds, “All I have to do is do my work; the universe creates the momentum.”
In her upcoming episode, Vanzant will volley between the struggles of a mother and her grown son, feuding over a family secret in Dallas. In each installment, Vanzant travels to the destination of her clients, spending 24 hours attempting to rebuild what they have internally destroyed. The rest of the season will tackle a variety of issues, from children of the incarcerated, to women attempting to open a business, to the catharsis of a transgendered preacher’s daughter. All guests are selected based on letters they wrote to Vanzant, including Lozada, whose highly publicized domestic dispute with ex-husband Chad Johnson in August fell right into the time frame of the shoot.
“She wrote me, just like every other guest,” Vanzant said, addressing concerns that it might have been too soon to discuss Lozada’s personal crisis on national television. “That’s an indication of willingness.”
Vanzant’s interview with Lozada was particularly unique, given it was filmed in two parts: the first prior to Lozada and Johnson’s explosive domestic brawl, and the second, afterwards. The downward spiral of Lozada’s marriage became a widespread topic of public fancy, and Lozada was not spared any infamy. Appearing on Vanzant’s show, Lozada detailed the story of the altercation, and acknowledged her intention to change her public image. The opportune and sensitive subject matter captivated audiences, and likely was a catalyst to the show’s ratings blitz.
Nevertheless, Vanzant rejects any criticisms that she may have been capitalizing on Lozada’s crisis for her own benefit.
“The show was done prior to the upheaval with her and Chad, and it was scheduled to be the third show, not the first show,” Vanzant explained. “The reason it was the first show was, because of the upheaval with her and Chad, it was timely…And so, you know, at my age, I can’t care what people say, and most of it, I forget.”