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The 2016 ESSENCE Festival kicks off in a few weeks. The weekend will feature performances from some of the biggest names in music along with various events that cater to ESSENCE’s community. Among these is the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience, a series of conversations and keynote addresses with industry influencers from Tyra Banks, Misty Copeland, Terry McMillan, to Rev. Al Sharpton. Closing out this year’s ESSENCE Empowerment Experience will be Iyanla Vanzant.

Iyanla Vanzant at 2014 ESSENCE Festival

Iyanla Vanzant at 2014 ESSENCE Festival

A writer, life coach, and minister, Vanzant has been dishing out tough love on her OWN series Iyanla: Fix My Life for four seasons. A New York Times best-selling author and NAACP Image Award Winner, Vanzant has inspired millions around the globe to take control of their lives and be an active participant in finding their happiness.

SFPL‘s Arlene Danna recently chatted with Vanzant over the phone where they discussed her upcoming keynote address, how she creates her own body wash, the premiere of Season 5 of her critically acclaimed series Iyanla: Fix My Life, and her new book.

You’ve been a part of the Essence Empowerment Experience in the past, how does it feel to be welcomed back this year?

It’s such an honor. I’ve been doing it for the past 14 years and every year I love being a part of it. The experience touches on all the things impacting our community. This year they’ve asked me to close out the series and I’m looking forward to it.

What topic will you be speaking on to close out this year’s series?

You know I get asked that all the time and the answers always the same I don’t know. I don’t use cards or prepare anything ahead of time. I like to speak from the heart and see what the mood strikes. I do know I want to inspire and push people to put in the work to be their best selves.

You’re a huge proponent of living your best life physically, mentally, and spiritually. Is this what inspired you to create your own body wash?

Actually my daughter Gemmia inspired me. From an early age she became interested in essential oils and aromatherapy and how scents can alter your energies. We know how to do laundry, and clean house, but do we know how or even take the time to clear our own energies. The MasterPeace Body Wash is made from a mixture of herbs, oils, and African black soap which is known for its skin healing properties. I then treat it with music and color therapy. I love that I get to continue her desire to create natural products that not only enhance your energy, but address the needs of the physical body.

Iyanla Fix My Life has really resonated with audiences. What can we expect in Season 5?

I love that the show has touched the lives of some many people. Season 5 premieres this Fall on Sept. 9. You can expect this season to create, spark, and inspire national conversations about critical issues.

Sounds great, can’t wait for the show’s return. Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

I’m working on my 19th book which will be out in 2017.

Wow, you’re on book 19! What will be the subject matter of the book?

How we can heal our toxic and dysfunctional feelings and behavior. People of color do not go to therapy. It is still very taboo. With this book I hope to enlighten people and help them get aligned with their greater good.

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