With more than 8 million books in print, Iyanla Vanzant has truly established a dedicated fan base.
Iyanla’s path to success took her through a multitude of life-changing experiences that shaped the profound insights she eagerly shares with others. A neglected, overweight, sexually abused child who was shuttled from one family to another, she became a teenage mother on welfare living in the projects of a major urban city. Vanzant took control of her life when she walked out of her second abusive marriage and entered Medgar Evers College in New York and then the City University of New York Law School. She moved to Philadelphia with her children and became a public defender for three years. Then she eventually became an ordained minister, who was committed to a message based on the principles of divine power and self-determination.
Iyanla combined her professional skills with her life’s lessons and embarked on a writing and speaking career. Her mass appeal is evident in her overwhelming success as an author. In the Meantime was a #1 New York Times bestseller, where it spent 20 weeks on the list, and she has had numerous other major bestsellers. As a nationally recognized speaker she has sold out such prestigious venues as New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, Atlanta’s Civic Center, and the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. Vanzant is also familiar to the daytime TV audience from her role as a regular contributor on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Acclaimed journalist and producer Barbara Walters recognized Vanzant’s extraordinary appeal, seeing in her a “breakaway talent” with the potential for huge success in daytime television. With Walters and partner Bill Geddie on board to executive produce, Buena Vista Productions to develop the show, and Buena Vista Television as distributor, the road to Iyanla was forged.
Vanzant has received numerous accolades for her work. In 1992 Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley named October 21st “Tapping the Power Within Day” in honor of a workshop she presented in that city for African-American women. In 1994, the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Education, an organization comprised of the presidents and administrators of the 117 predominantly Black colleges in the United States named her Alumni of the Year. She also was awarded an “Oni” by the International Congress of Black Women as one of the nation’s unsung heroes, and she served as the national spokesperson for Literacy Volunteers of America in 1998.
In 1999 she was listed among the 100 Most Influential African-Americans by Ebony magazine. Later that year, she was awarded the 31st NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Literary Work, Non-Fiction” for Yesterday I Cried. She also earned her first Honorary Doctorate degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from the City University of New York, Medgar Evars College. In 2000, she earned her second honorary degree, Doctor of Divinity, from the Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, Ebony has named her one of their “55 Most Intriguing People,” Vibe magazine tabbed her one of “100 Leaders of the New Millennium” and Newsweek recently included her as one of the “Women of the New Century.”
The mother of three and grandmother of four, Vanzant lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband Adeyemi and Mr. Coco, their cat.
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