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The Evolution of Iyanla Vanzant
Posted: Sun 09/09/2012 03:00 PM
In 1953, Iyanla Vanzant was born in a taxicab parked under a Brooklyn elevated train. "Things have always moved very rapidly in my life," she says. "Very rarely has my life been still or quiet."
Her mother, an alcoholic, died when she was two years old. Iyanla was sent to live with her grandmother, whom she says abused her. "My grandmother beat me with an ironing cord until all the skin came off my back," she says. Her father and stepmother removed her from her grandmother's home when she was five years old. Still, her childhood was filled with fear. She was raped at age 9, gave birth at age 13 and was a mother of three by the time she was 21.
One day, while riding the bus, she saw an ad for a local college and enrolled. She graduated and went on to law school, spending three years as a public defender in Philadelphia before finding a higher calling.
Today, Iyanla is known as an author, relationship expert and spritual teacher, but Iyanla says it took her many years to find inner peace. Watch parts of her soul-to-soul conversation with Oprah and learn more about how Iyanla Vanzant overcame her past to become who she is today.
Iyanla Vanzant wasn't always her name. In fact, she was born Rhonda Harris. Watch as she explains who Rhonda was and why she renamed—and reinvented—herself:
The daughter of a woman who had two children with a married man, Iyanla says she bore a burden of guilt since she was in the womb. Watch as Iyanla opens up about how she carried that guilt throughout her life—and how she broke the cycle:
Today, Iyanla says she can "smell a lie" because she was untruthful in her own life for so long. Find out how Iyanla says she developed her gift for hearing beneath the words people speak to get to the real root of the issue:
Iyanla says hardships helped shape who she is today. Watch as Iyanla explains why we're all called to a special life task—and how to surrender to that purpose: