By Bobbi Booker
Few would have single out Iyanla Vanzant when she first arrived in Philadelphia from New York City to become an internationally recognized self-help guru who’d become a force in empowering women of all classes, races and socio-economic backgrounds. Yet, starting with “Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Empowerment for Black Women” in 1992 and for the next decade, Vanzant would go on to write over13 books—some autobiographical—but all containing basic spiritual principles, self-affirmations, and personal rituals. Vanzant graced the New York Times best-sellers list for her works “Yesterday I Cried” (Fireside, 2000), “One Day My Soul Just Opened Up” (Fireside, 1998) and “In the Meantime” (Fireside, 1999). By the 21st century, Vanzant would become an in-demand motivational speaker and television personality recognized as one of “100 Most Influential African Americans” and one of “50 Women Who Are Changing The World” by Essence Magazine.
Vanzant life story of her harsh childhood of being beaten and raped has helped thousands of women (and men) connect and find healing. This week, Vanzant returned to Philadelphia for the duel duties of hosting a three-day a week WURD-AM morning show and presenting a weekend-long self-help conference entitled “Spiritual Living, Spiritual Loving.”
Besides her writing, she has also been involved in television. In 2001 she hosted her own short-lived talk show Iyanla and three years later joined the reality television series “Starting Over” as a life coach. She eventually found the small screen was a big hassle. “When you are doing something like (television) you’re living somebody’s vision of what you should be doing,” explained Vanzant.
“Reality isn’t always real. Television’s commitment is to entertainment, not to healing and my commitment is to healing.”
The majority of Vanzant’s healing lessons takes place at the Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development she founded near her home in Silver Spring, Maryland.
When she was introduced to WURD 900-AM listeners this week, many callers welcomed her back to the region. “Philadelphia is where my career took a major shift through the support, encouragement and the nurturing that I did in Philadelphia, particularly at WHAT-AM. It was an opportunity for people to hear me and for me to really connect with people and their ideas, and we’re going to do that again.”
According to WURD 900-AM President W. Cody Anderson, Vanzant’s inclusion to the line up will shore up programming at the sole African American issues focus station in the area. “Iyanla has been a friend for a long time and I really appreciate the fact that she has maintained that relationship,” said Anderson. “She’s willing to do anything that she can do to help us established the kind of image and communication that we want.”
Vanzant emphasized the importance of sharing her message on African American-based radio. “If you look around the world today, still African Americans are struggling with some major challenges and issues,” Vanzant said. “There are so many things that we need to look at and talk about. People are suffering, and our community continues to suffer. We still get the least amount of services. Our children—our families—are in uproar. All of the things that one would think that we had moved through and overcome seem to right back in our face again.”
Vanzant notes that like her students, she had to reevaluate her goals and discipline herself to take time while juggling a hectic schedule, which now includes working on her latest book and multi—media project scheduled for 2008 release. “I’ve learned that it’s not healthy to burn the candle at both ends,” said Vanzant. “So I am learning to be much more gentle with myself and just honor this body, this life in a way that ensures that I’ll be around for a while.”
Spiritual Living, Spiritual Loving with Iyanla Vanzant took place Friday, Saturday & Sunday, March 23, 24 & 25, 2007 at the The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts located 736-38 S. Broad Street (at Fitzwater on The Avenue of The Arts).
= Originally Published in The Philadelphia Tribune on March, 23. 2007=