A brand new season of Iyanla: Fix My Life will kick off on OWN Saturday, September 19, with an explosive episode about two Black pastors that have been living a closeted lie. Both secretly having lived on the “down-low.” One will come out to his congregation and the other to his estranged wife, about how he conducted himself while they were together as a couple.
Yes, Iyanla Vanzant—who refers to herself as a “spiritual technician”—is going there this season. And as she navigates through the rough waters of fixing lives across the country, she operates on this belief: “Your life will never shift until you get okay with the fact that you’re crazy as hell,” she says. “As long as you’re trying to cover up your crazy, as long as you try to act like you’re not crazy, as long as you try to act like you don’t hurt, as long as you try to act like you’re not broken, your life will never work. You got to acknowledge the thing that’s broken before you can heal it.”
Among the other guests that will fill the eight episodes comprising the new season, Iyanla focuses on a woman addicted to butt injections, two co-dependent sisters whose lives are being destroyed by addiction, and a season finale that finds Vanzant going one-on-one with the first African American to win an Olympic medal at the Winter Olympics—figure skater Debi Thomas—to talk with her about her colossal fall from grace.
Ahead of Saturday night’s season premier, EBONY.com spoke with Iyanla about the new season while doling out her thoughts and strong opinions about why she’ll never work with DMX again, some choice words for Nicki Minaj about her alleged body enhancements, and why she was so tough on Evelyn Lozada.
EBONY: Has there ever been a scenario where you felt, “I don’t think I can help this person?”
Iyanla Vanzant: Yes, there’s been many. When the people don’t have a clear vision of what they want, we don’t take them.
EBONY: With the pastor who’s going to reveal to the congregation that he’s gay, when he came to you to ask you for help, was it, “I need help revealing this? I need help being okay with who I am?”
IV: He said, “I’ve been living a lie and I can’t live like this anymore.” He was very clear what the lie was. There were four of them. They were very clear about what the lie was. And they were very clear about what it is that they wanted to go through. And so the two who dropped out weren’t willing to deal with the consequences of what it would mean if they came out.
EBONY: You’ve also not only dealt with people in the private sector, but you’ve dealt with people in the public sector. Do you follow up with those public figures?
IV: Yes, I’m still in touch. Not with DMX, because I told him on my show, “You will never get to speak with me again.” And I mean that, because he was too disrespectful.
EBONY: What if he reaches out to you? And comes with “I want to…” and lays it out?
IV: But that’s what he did before. One thing I would have to do is drug test him. I’d have to know that he’s clean.
EBONY: You won’t work with anybody that’s still in his/her addiction?
IV: Oh no, I can’t. There’s no way they can make a conscious choice or decision. Unless if we’re moving them toward… Like, we do have one show this season that was an intervention. We were moving one woman into rehab. And the same thing with the Debi Thomas show. Moving her partner into rehab. But they acknowledged that they had a problem, which is why we did the show.
Whereas Mr. Earl Simmons [a.k.a. DMX] did not acknowledge it and allowed us to believe that he was clean and he wasn’t. Because we didn’t actually go in to deal with that. We were going in to deal with other things. But when we realized that, I asked him right there: “Are you high?” And you know, I can’t push a person beyond where they’re willing to go. He said no, he wasn’t high. Evelyn Lozada said no, she wasn’t being beaten. Terrell Owens said he wasn’t upset that his mother didn’t tell him the truth. I can’t push a person beyond where they’re willing to go. My job is to ask the question.
EBONY: I’m recalling watching Evelyn, and there was a moment that I’m feeling like you were maybe “pushing” is too forceful of a word but—
IV: I take them to the door.
EBONY: Right! Is there a line?
IV: There is a line. And remember, you see 48 minutes. There’s things that you don’t see. In Evelyn’s case, I pressed because I knew she was being violated, and that meant that I was leaving her in a dangerous situation. And what happened? Three weeks later, bang! Three weeks later. I knew she was in a dangerous situation. But I needed her to acknowledge that, and she wasn’t ready. But the minute it happened, she called me back.
EBONY: The show talks about another woman who is addicted to getting injections, and that is an issue many women are dealing with today.
IV: I mean, we all see Nicki Minaj and nobody’s saying a word. What is wrong with you? Sit yourself down somewhere. And every doctor in this country needs to be put on notice: nobody put their hands on this woman again! What is wrong with you? Stop that!
EBONY: But that is a problem with younger women: this fixation with changing their bodies. Talk about why that was important for you to talk to this woman.
IV: Because she has destroyed her body. She was absolutely exquisite. She was a Wilhelmina model. And now, from her waist down to her ankles, her skin looks like a turtle. And she’s on painkillers for the rest of her life! Now, there’s a reason why she went to body enhancements, and she just went overboard.
EBONY: How rewarding is it for you when you’ve seen people’s lives being changed?
IV: It’s not about me. I’m not attached to it that way. What I’m more attached to is that I know forgiveness worked for me.
Crystal Shaw King is a seasoned TV, radio and online entertainment writer. She's also a contributing editor for a social justice foundation in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @crystalamberbam.