Posted Saturday, March 3, 2018 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Iyanla Vanzant camped out in Atlanta for the fifth season of her hit OWN show "Iyanla: Fix My Life" debuting on March 3 at 9 p.m.
The decision to stay in one place made the life coach's life much easier because she was able to live in Atlanta for several months while the families came to her instead of the other way around.
"Atlanta right now seems to be the hub of everything," Vanzant said in an interview. "And sometimes it's best to take people out of their environment. We used to go into their environment. It's so familiar. Overnight, they get right back into their bad behaviors."
The producers rented out an existing home for a period of five months, she said.
"This is the longest stretch of time I've ever been here," she said, noting how bad the traffic has gotten and how much downtown has built up compared to the 1980s. She spent a lot of downtime at Phipps and Lenox malls and noshing at the Cheesecake Factory.
The new way of shooting enabled Vanzant to tape far more episodes: 20 this season instead of the usual six or eight. Ten will air this spring and ten more later this year.
As usual, the episodes are a blend of regular folks and celebrities such as producer Memphitz and Trina Braxton of "Braxton Family Values."
"The reason I like to do public people because I want to break down that wall," Vanzant said. "If I had money and I'm famous and my career is on track my problems will somehow be solved. That's not true. We do public people to level the playing field. Whether it's Jennifer Aniston's marriage falling part of the Jones family on the west side of Atlanta, it doesn't matter. People are people. Problems are problems. We all face them at different times."
She said this show is difficult to cast. "I always marvel at my guests," she said. "It takes a lot of courage to air your difficulties out publicly. We live in a society where that's not encouraged or taught. You face the judgment of the public."
Vanzant typically spends two to three days with each family but more complex situations become multi-part episodes. She tries to have one-on-one conversations with each family member and hear their stories.
"People need to know they've been heard," she said ."Ninety percent of problems occur because they haven't been heard. Nobody is listening or they don't know how to say it or they say it and it's not regarded as important or valuable. I do more listening and question asking than trying to fix anything. People really fix themselves."
The first episode, which debuted March 3, featured a girl who was kidnapped but only found out about the truth when her fake mom admitted it to her. That woman has since been sent to prison but the now 19-year-old girl, whose birth name was Kamiyah but was known as Alexis, came to Iyanla seeking some fresh level of understanding. Unfortunately, her birth mother failed to show up and when Iyanla tried to get Kamiyah/Alexis to dig deeper into her feelings, she resisted the process and became enraged. Iyanla couldn't fix her life because she wasn't willing or ready.
Vanzant has also released her 18th book last month called "Get Over It! Thought Therapy for Healing the Hard Stuff" and is starting a tour to promote it, her first solo tour in 18 years. She'll be stopping at the Fox Theatre May 1. Tickets are available here for $43.25 to $83.25.
"Iyanla: Fix My Life," 9 p.m. Saturdays, OWN