Up Next


Iyanla Vanzant

The television guru opens up about coffee ice cream, Teddy Pendergrass, Malcolm Gladwell and the difference between football and basketball

Iyanla Vanzant is switching things up. In the sixth season of OWN’s popular reality series Iyanla: Fix My Life, the healer wants to bring her viewers even closer to the action. She’s addressing the myth of the “angry black woman” head-on by moving eight women into a home and working with them over the course of this season. She also has a house for men, too. Couch-coaching is about to get even more real, y’all. “I don’t just do the show just for the guests,” said the Brooklyn, New York-born author, lawyer and inspirational speaker. “I also do the show so that I can touch the viewers in a very different way … When you have multiple approaches to a common issue, it’s easier for viewers to identify and recognize their own healing needs.” With 1.2 million followers in her Twitter community, Vanzant downplays her tech prowess, but dishes on retired NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens and shares her favorite binge-watch.

“I read People magazine every week. Cover to cover.”

What’s your social media tribe?

I don’t know if I have a tribe. I’m not really technical with prowess. I know how to do Twitter, and I know how to do Facebook, so I guess those are the two. I didn’t even know about Snapchat! I didn’t even know it existed.

Favorite throwback television show?

Law & Order, because I’m a lawyer [both laugh].

Last TV show you binge-watched?

Queen of the South [USA Network]. I recorded all of the episodes and then I spent a day looking at them.

You worked with retired NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens on a previous episode; did that trigger an interest in football at all?

No. I don’t know anything about sports! I know a football is pointed and a basketball is round. Other than that, I have no knowledge whatsoever!

What was the last podcast that you listened to?

Malcolm Gladwell.

Who is your favorite author — other than yourself, of course?

That’s kind of a tough one. I would say Toni Morrison. She speaks to the issues of my heart and soul. J. California Cooper just popped in my brain! She speaks to my heart, you know. And I think her work is very conversational, which I love. You feel like you’re in the midst of a conversation.

What was the last print magazine that you purchased or subscribed to?

I read People every week. Cover to cover.

It’s an addiction?

It’s not an addiction, but that’s where I get all of my industry information. I read People every week and Entertainment Weekly every week. Being in the media industry, I need to know what’s going on and I just find those two entertaining.

“We are going to be forced to change. Change how we deal with each other, change how we live, change how we see the world, change how we interact with one another.”

What was the last keynote address that you gave?

I spoke at Café Mocha Radio. Café Mocha did an awards ceremony about two weeks ago. They were honoring a variety of women in the Washington, D.C., area for their contributions.

Where do you get your serious news?

I don’t. I don’t do news at all.

What is the last museum that you walked through?

The Museum of Native American History in Washington, D.C. My granddaughter had to do a project for school, so I took her to that museum.

What was the first concert that you ever went to?

Teddy Pendergrass and Chaka Khan. Oh, my God! This had to be in the ’80s. They used to do the Pepsi Music Fest and I was a Teddy Pendergrass fanatic!

What was the last concert that you went to?

The Essence Music Festival, 2014. That was the last one I went to. Kevin Hart opened. I can’t remember who came after him!

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Coffee ice cream.

“I know a football is pointed and a basketball is round. Other than that, I have no knowledge whatsoever!”

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

I think people would be surprised to know how much time I spend alone. I don’t have to be with nobody. I love it. I enjoy my own company.

Where does your courage come from?


What was the last thing that you read?

I read this morning, Matthew, Chapter 1 in the Bible. I’m studying Matthew, so I read Chapter 1.

Do you read the Bible every morning?

I do, yes. I do.

What will you always be a champion of?

Children. Children’s safety. Keeping children safe. Emotionally safe, mentally safe, physically safe.

What do you predict for 2017?

I predict that we are going to be forced to change because we didn’t do it voluntarily. We are going to be forced to change. Change how we deal with each other, change how we live, change how we see the world, change how we interact with one another. We’re going to be forced, because where we’re headed right now is a little scary.

Who do you look up to?

My grandchildren because they’re not impressed by the fact that I’m on television. They just want to know if I have cookies! I really look up to them because they keep me grounded. And I look up to all of my prayer partners. I have several of them. [I look up to] my best friend, a minister in Detroit. And I look up to all of the women who are raising children, particularly sons, in the world today. I don’t know if I could do it today.

Kelley L. Carter is a senior entertainment reporter and the host of Another Act at Andscape. She can act out every episode of the U.S. version of The Office, she can and will sing the Michigan State University fight song on command and she is very much immune to Hollywood hotness.