Iyanla Vanzant

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Iyanla Vanzant
Vanzant in 2019
Rhonda Eva Harris

(1953-09-13) September 13, 1953 (age 70)
EducationCity University of New York, Medgar Evers
Virginia Union University (BA)
Queens College, City University of New York (JD)
University of Santa Monica (MA)
Occupation(s)Inspirational speaker, lawyer, spiritual teacher, author, TV personality
Years active1980–present

Iyanla Vanzant (born Rhonda Eva Harris; September 13, 1953) is an American inspirational speaker, lawyer, New Thought spiritual teacher, author, life coach, and television personality. She is known primarily for her books, her eponymous talk show, and her appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. From 2012 to 2021, she served as host of OWN's Iyanla: Fix My Life.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Vanzant was born on September 13, 1953, in the back of a taxi in Brooklyn, New York, as Rhonda Eva Harris. She is the daughter of Sarah Jefferson, a railroad carmaid, and Horace Harris. Her mother died from breast cancer in 1955, when she was two. She was then raised by paternal relatives. Her first husband was physically abusive and she left him in 1980, taking her three children.[2] In 1983, she was given the title "Iyanla", which means "great mother", after being initiated and ordained as a priestess in the Yoruba tradition (as mentioned in her television interview on the Conn Jackson show). She attended Medgar Evers College and Virginia Union University. Vanzant holds a Juris Doctor degree from the City University of New York School of Law and a Master's degree from the University of Santa Monica (USM), Center for the Study and Practice of Spiritual Psychology. She currently resides in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.[3] She is also an ordained New Thought minister.[4]

In 2000, she was named one of the "100 most influential Black Americans" by Ebony magazine, which said that "Her books, lectures and television appearances have made her a multimedia high priestess of healthy relationships."[5] In 2012, Vanzant was listed at #7 on Watkins' Mind Body Spirit magazine's list of the 100 most spiritually influential living people.[6] In 2014, she was a co-speaker on Oprah's the "Life You Want Weekend" tour, which travelled to eight cities and also featured Deepak Chopra, Mark Nepo, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Rob Bell.[7] In 2016, Vanzant was named to Oprah Winfrey's SuperSoul100 list of visionaries and influential leaders.[8]

Vanzant is an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.[9] On Christmas Day 2003, Vanzant's 30-year-old daughter, Gemmia, died from a rare form of colon cancer.[10] On July 30, 2023, Vanzant announced that her youngest daughter Nisa had died.[11] Vanzant and her husband, Yemi, divorced in 2007.[12]

Filmography and bibliography[edit]

  • Interiors: a black woman's healing--in progress. Writers and Readers, 1995. ISBN 0-86316-321-1.
  • The Big Book of Faith. Simon & Schuster, 1997. ISBN 0-684-84999-2.
  • The spirit of a man: a vision of transformation for Black men and the women who love them. HarperSanFrancisco, 1997. ISBN 0-06-251239-0.
  • Acts of Faith 1998: Thought-for-a-Day. Simon & Schuster, 1997. ISBN 0-684-82411-6.
  • Faith in the Valley: Lessons for Women on the Journey to Peace. Simon & Schuster, 1998. ISBN 0-684-85048-6.
  • Don't Give It Away!: A Workbook of Self-Awareness and Self-Affirmations for Young Women. with Almasi Wilcots. Simon & Schuster, 1999. ISBN 0-684-85048-6.
  • Yesterday, I Cried: Celebrating the Lessons of Living and Loving. Simon & Schuster, 1999. ISBN 0-684-87382-6.
  • One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days And 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength And Personal Growth. Simon & Schuster, 1999. ISBN 0-684-87383-4.
  • In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want. Simon & Schuster, 2000. ISBN 0-684-86581-5.
  • Acts of Faith: Meditations for People of Color. Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0-7432-2646-1.
  • Value in the Valley: A Black Woman's Guide Through Life's Dilemmas. Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0-7432-2647-X.
  • Living through the meantime: learning to break the patterns of the past and begin the healing process. Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0743227107.
  • Iyanla Vanzant. Simon & Schuster, Limited, 2001. ISBN 0-7432-2171-0.
  • Until Today. Hay House Inc, 2002. ISBN 1-56170-924-7.
  • Tips for Daily Living Cards: A 50-Card Deck. Hay House Inc, 2002. ISBN 1-56170-939-5.
  • Every Day I Pray: Prayers for Awakening to the Grace of Inner Communion. Pocket, 2002. ISBN 0-7434-5074-4.
  • Up From Here: Reclaiming the Male Spirit: A Guide to Transforming Emotions Into Power and Freedom. HarperCollins, 2003. ISBN 0-06-052250-X.
  • Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Women. Hay House, Inc, 2008. ISBN 1-4019-2188-4.
  • A Woman Knows Things. Hay House UK, Limited, 2010. ISBN 1-4019-2192-2.
  • Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through. Hay House, Inc, 2010. ISBN 1-4019-2822-6.
  • Girls Trip Guest appearance
  • Trust: Mastering The 4 Essentials


TV guest appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Simmons, Deborah (September 22, 2014). "SIMMONS: Thanks, Iyanla, for a new reality on reality TV". Washington Times. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
  2. ^ Schinke, Birgit (27 March 2015). "Vanzant, Iyanla (1953-)". BlackPast.org. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  3. ^ "Author Biography: Iyanla Vanzant". Hay House.
  4. ^ Vanzant, I. (2008) Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Women. Hay House, Inc. p 283.
  5. ^ Ebony, May 1, 2000.
  6. ^ "Watkins Mind Body Spirit", issue 29 2012, "100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People."
  7. ^ Lilly Workneh (September 30, 2014). "Oprah's 'The Life You Want' tour inspires thousands". The Grio. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
  8. ^ "Meet the SuperSoul100: The World's Biggest Trailblazers in One Room". O Magazine. 1 Aug 2016. Retrieved 5 Jul 2018.
  9. ^ Alpha Kappa Alpha Honorary Members List Archived 2010-11-19 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "The Words That Helped Iyanla Vanzant Cope with Tragic Loss". 6 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Iyanla Vanzant Announces Youngest Daughter Nisa Has Died". BET. Retrieved 2023-07-31.
  12. ^ "Iyanla Vanzant: Back from the Brink".
  13. ^ "Iyanla Vanzant: Back from the Brink". The Oprah Winfrey Show. February 23, 2011.

External links[edit]