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Before Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and Suze Orman, there was Iyanla Vanzant. Once Oprah’s go-to relationship and spirituality guru, Vanzant went missing in action after leaving Oprah’s flock to start her own show. This afternoon, after years of not speaking, Iyanla Vanzant was back on Oprah’s stage, trying to make amends with her former friend.

Years ago, Iyanla Vanzant ascended to fame after Oprah turned over her talk show perch and allowed Vanzant to stand center stage each Tuesday afternoon and speak to Winfrey’s millions of viewers. Vanzant dispensed advice on healing old wounds, letting go of past hurts, and obtaining true happiness. Her delivery—less Hollywood, and more concerned home girl—struck a chord with viewers. Soon, Vanzant became a best-selling author, booked sold-out speaking tours, and it seemed was on the fast track to host her own show. By sharing her stage, Oprah was slowly introducing Vanzant into the mainstream, and grooming her for stardom.

And then, it all fell apart.

After being wooed by Barbara Walters, Vanzant says she went back to Oprah and asked for her own show, immediately. Oprah felt Vanzant wasn’t ready to headline her own production, but Vanzant felt that the time was right. Eventually, the two parted ways—Oprah feeling like Vanzant was attempting to strong-arm her, and Vanzant feeling like Oprah didn’t believe in her vision. Today, they aimed to mend the wounds that kept them apart for so long.

****NOTE: Sorry – the video quality is not the best****

The on-air reconciliation felt more like two old friends dishing about who hurt who first, than a nationally syndicated talk show. Vanzant began the show by apologizing to Oprah (and went on to spend most of the hour apologizing) for leaving her for greener pastures, and Oprah called Vanzant  out on her inconsistencies.

During the show, Vanzant claimed she was ignorant in the ways of the television business and never meant to hit Oprah with an ultimatum—produce my show, or I’m leaving to sign with Barbara Walters.

“I did lectures, workshops, class, public speaking– but don’t know, didn’t know doodly about television,” Vanzant said.

But Oprah wasn’t having it. “What I accept is that you knew what you were doing when you walked into that room and that you had the intention to force our hand,” she retorted.

While I watched the show, one word kept jumping out at me: Communication. If these two ladies had just sat down and talked out their issues—misconceptions, fears, expectations—we might be tuning in to watch The Iyanla Vanzant Show or reading her column in O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, instead of being left with Dr. Phil.

Did you watch Iyanla Vanzant’s appearance on Oprah? What did you think?

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  • Sonia

    The one thing I didn’t like about the show was the way that Iyanla kept using “crazy” as a rationale for her behavior. While I understand that she may have said this in an attempt at humor and nerves in the situation, she should know better. But she was on the show as an individual not an expert weighing in on others’ lives.

    If I ever had to choose between Dr. Phil and Iyanla there would be no competition. She has always struck me as knowledgeable, authentic and emphathetic in a relateable way. He on the other hand has a show that is less about teaching and sharing than it is about ratings. Whether this is due to producers, directors, or writers, ultimately he is the one dispensing advice. His no take prisoner approach would be palatable if the story telling, interview, etc… didn’t rely on Jerry Springer tactics: ambush, dueling arguments, vieing for attention…

    Iyanla is a gifted woman and we saw that on the show. I hope we get to see her do more good work on a national stage. As she said, “the time is anointed not appointed”.

  • African Mami

    It was a business decision that cast her out of Oprah’s good graces, and ya’ll know how important it is to Hail the Queen at all given times. This matter could have been handled PRIVATELY. There is three sides to a story. In this case, Iyanla’s, Oprah’s and the truth…which we will never really get to know. There is more to this story than meets the eye. I side with neither and wish Iyanla the best of luck.

  • ms_micia

    What Iyanla isn’t that Dr.Phil and Rachel Ray and any other of Oprah’s protegee’s is a money hungry attention whore. Iyanla’s words and spiritual guidance resonate with millions of people (esp. black women) all over. And though the exposure of Oprah’s show may have been a step in her journey I seriously doubt that her ultimate goal in life is to be the next Oprah. When Afro-centricity and black consciousness were in those things were on Oprah’s radar. Now that they are no longer en-vouge mass media doesn’t have much to offer an Iyanla Vanzant. But I don’t think the sistah is hurting. Between her seminars, her books (of which I own three) and her Institution she seems to be doing just fine. It seems a little petty of Oprah to berate her on television for a decision to stand up for herself and what she thought she was worthy of at the time. Everyone’s made that move before, sometimes it turns out good, sometimes it doesn’t. Its all a part of the learning process. I wish DR.Iyanla more blessings and don’t let the issues of the past muddle her future. Oprah and her brand are a thing upon itself and I stopped caring a long time ago, when she stopped caring about anything but her ratings and herself. It’s been many a moon since the issues of the black community have had a voice on her show. So I wish her continued success but this is just another example of how out of touch Oprah is with the audience that originally made her famous.

  • Speaks

    I feel ashamed for Iyanla to grovel like that on live TV, I mean she’s licking Oprah’s ass and down right begging – WHAT A SHAME.

    As for Oprah, I am dissapointed in her cold distance, lack of connection along with her lack of support.

  • shantel

    If i had to chosse between Iyanla and DR Phil no hands down it would be Iyanla.She seem real,she is funny and no matter what mistakes she made her advice was great.If i was Oprah Iyanla would have her own show.