Iyanla Vanzant

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Iyanla Vanzant
Rhonda Eva Harris

(1953-09-13) September 13, 1953 (age 65)
OccupationInspirational speaker, lawyer, spiritual teacher, author, TV personality
Years active1980-present
Part of a series of articles on
New Thought

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. She can currently be seen on television as the host of Iyanla: Fix My Life,[1] on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

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 car maid, and Horace Harris, who was largely absent from her life. Her mother died from breast cancer in 1955, when Vanzant was two years old. She was then raised by paternal relatives, one of whom raped her at the age of nine. Her first husband was physically abusive, and she left him in 1980, taking her three children with her.[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. 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 list of the 100 most spiritually influential living people."[6] In 2014, she was co-speaker in Oprah's the "Life You Want Weekend" tour, which travelled to eight cities, also featuring 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] Vanzant and her husband, Yemi, divorced in 2007.[11]

Filmography and bibliography[edit]


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. "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. ^ [1]
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ "Iyanla Vanzant: Back from the Brink". The Oprah Winfrey Show. February 23, 2011.

External links[edit]