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.