So you want to be a talk-show host? Well, count on Iyanla Vanzant arguably the best of this season's new crop of chatterboxes to give you the straight skinny. Sure, her executive producer is polished patrician Barbara Walters, but you'll get no Hollywood spin-doctoring from Vanzant. She may've started out as a best-selling author (Yesterday, I Cried; In the Meantime) and Oprah guest staple, but she's the first to admit her new job's a challenge.
"Some days it is," she sasses to TV Guide Online. "[Doing] all of these technical things, while trying to cover a relevant topic with a living guest in front of you... it's more than a notion. Like where to look and what to say and to remember not to yell because the microphone is on my bosom and I can blow the sound man's ears off! Or to turn the mike off before I go to the bathroom and things like that."
Chuckling, the Iyanla host realizes she has a whole litany of no-no's to bear in mind everyday. "If you can't read the TelePrompTer," she advises, "don't squint. I hope [the audience] doesn't think I'm having a seizure with my eyes rolling around in my head. You know, I'm 49. Let's be clear. There are things happening in my body and in my vision that weren't when I was 35. So there's times I look at the prompter and there's a blur!
"I don't squint anymore," Vanzant notes, grinning. "I do know that. If I look at the prompter and can't see a question, I make it up." That refreshingly candid style is what makes Iyanla's take on even the tiredest of talk-show topics worth watching. On a recent makeover show, she warned a guest that a new 'do wouldn't resolve her emotional woes: "Don't dress up the garbage, darlin'!"
"That's Iyanla-isms," she quips, adding that she won't rely too much on time-worn fare. "As I get my sea legs and learn the whole process of hosting a show, I think the topics are going to be more reflective of who I am. It's about giving people something to do
in their own lives, through my own unique spin on life and loving."