At this point I can officially say that I am unashamedly a STAN of Iyanla Vanzant and her new show on OWN, “Iyanla Fix My Life.” Every single time I watch an episode of the show I walk away shouting the life coach’s praises and thinking about all the lessons she inadvertently laid out for me to learn while working on someone else, but after watching Saturday night’s special with actress Maia Campbell, I came away from the program feeling somewhat uneasy.
Maia, as most of us know by now, has been notoriously exposed as a former drug addict, thanks to World Star Hip-Hop and opportunistic observers with a camera who splattered footage of the star having a drug-related meltdown all over the Internet. Since that time, Maia has gotten clean, boasting two years of sobriety, but her problems are far from over. For one, the 35-year-old suffers from bi-polar disorder and will always have to be on medication that, from her appearance on “Fix My Life,” appears to keep her in a somewhat dazed state. Second, the actress still appears to be mourning the death of her mother, author Bebe Moore Campbell, who died of brain cancer in 2006. Third, she is still confined to an assisted living facility which she is expected to remain in until at least March, which means she also does not have custody of her 12-year-old daughter. To say Maia’s issues are multi-layered would be an understatement, which is why I don’t think she was quite ready for Iyanla to “fix her life,” at least not in the public eye.
Personally, it was uncomfortable for me to watch Iyanla put Maia through various exercises, like acting out the traumatizing experiences from her past, like the drug meltdown that was caught on tape or the breakdown she had on the set of “In the House.” Perhaps it was just the acting aspect that seemed awkward to me, but as I observed Maia’s somewhat lifeless eyes and child-like demeanor, I almost felt like what I was seeing was something that I shouldn’t have been watching. One hour could never be enough to fix the troubled star’s life, much like all of the other individuals Iyanla works with, but there’s an enormous difference between helping someone with mental illness who is a recovering addict, and someone who is a bully with mommy and daddy issues. Shoot, even Evelyn got two episodes, Maia clearly needs much more than that.
And that’s the other reason some parts of the special rubbed me wrong. Though I will testify about Iyanla’s abilities from now ’til kingdom come, all I could think while seeing her on OWN was that a psychiatrist, rather than a life coach, would be much better fitted for helping Maia through the recovery process. I don’t doubt that Iyanla could bring the actress to an awakening at some point, but there were times during the show when I wasn’t even sure Maia could fully comprehend what was going on. I also felt as though Iyanla, being a friend of the family, perhaps should have passed up on the ratings opportunity and really put in work with Maia off camera. At the very least, I hope she is providing ongoing counseling to Maia because I’m not sure their session even scratched the surface of her issues, despite the fact that she has indeed come a mighty long way.
I think all of us who loved Tiffany on “In The House” and remember what a beautiful woman she was are rooting for Maia to overcome these obstacles in her life, but unfortunately after Saturday I walked away from “Fix My Life” feeling more sad and deflated about the teen star than optimistic about her future. Hopefully there is some other work going on behind the scenes that will allow her life to one day be fully fixed.
Check out some footage from the episode here. What did you think about Maia Campbell’s appearance on “Iyanla Fix My Life?”