Iyanla Vanzant
In the summer of 1999, Iyanla says she received a handwritten note from a powerful television executive who was impressed by her work on The Oprah Show. "I didn't know it at the time, but this executive was a representative of Barbara Walters," Iyanla says. When Iyanla called to thank her, she says the woman offered to fly her to New York City for dinner.

Iyanla accepted the invitation. While dining with Barbara and other television executives, Iyanla says she was offered the opportunity to host her own show. "So imagine, you know? A homegirl from Brooklyn and the two most powerful women in television are now present in my world," Iyanla says. "Talk about fry your brain cells."

Iyanla says she was very clear that she wasn't leaving Harpo and turned down Barbara's offer, but then, the opportunity started weighing heavily on her mind. "It made me think, 'Maybe it is time for me to do my own show,'" she says.

Back in Chicago, Iyanla set up a meeting with Oprah and The Oprah Show's executive producer at the time, Dianne Hudson. "The way I phrased it was 'someone big in television,' had made me an offer, that I had turned it down, but that I had reconsidered and wanted to know if Harpo would be willing to do my show now instead of waiting until later," Iyanla says.

Two weeks went by before Iyanla says she received a call from a Harpo attorney. "[The attorney said,] 'Well, it's clear that you're going in a direction that Harpo isn't, and we wish you well,'" Iyanla says. "It was a nice way of saying, 'We don't want you back.' ... Whereas two weeks before I'm standing between the two most powerful women in television, now I don't have a deal with this network and I'm no longer welcome on The Oprah Show. Damn."
FROM: A No-Holds-Barred Conversation with Former Oprah Show Expert Iyanla Vanzant
Published on February 16, 2011


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