Was It Time For Iyanla To Try To Fix Maia Campbell’s Life?

November 19, 2012  |  

Source: Oprah.com

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?”

Brande Victorian is the deputy editor for madamenoire.com. Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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  • Masterpieced

    Why do women bear children that look ZERO like them?

  • Masterpieced

    Once again you throw Iyanla under the bus.

  • Yami

    That really took alot to get on television and come to grips with yourself like she did. Yes, her situation is all over the internet anyway but to stand her ground in front of everyone judging her and to be accountable for her actions. To admit that she has to change her life to get better is no easy task. I’m really proud of her and I don’t judge her. None of us have a right too. We can only show love and support to her and everyone else dealing with this disease.

  • lynn

    I also want to add that Maia’s little girl had no business on that show.
    Again, I call on Oprah to stop this foolishness that Iyana is doing because she cause some real damage.
    Maia get away from her…

    • kim

      Life is really hard we all are add. to some and in most of the time it is not the wright time or place .In this case it was the right time she need to see what being off the med done, what she lose and what it did. Now hopefully this will help her heal and stay off drugs after seeing and talking to two of the people she hurt the most. I enjoy the show some people just cant see a black woman do good and help other it is even so black’s that hate black’s because it is not them .I’m not GOD so I put it all in his HANDS

  • lynn

    I could hardly watch this! Iyanla is not qualified to help this young lady.
    Oprah should be ashame of herself to allow this to happen.
    Something bad is going to happen to some of these so called patience that Iyanla has on stage giving the wrong advice to…

    • Masterpieced

      How is she not qualified? There are older ladies all over the world who help folks.

  • Trisha_B

    What stood out to me was how Iyanla kept making it known that she was good friends w/ Maia’s mother. She knew Maia was struggling & going thru somethings, why didn’t she ever step in & talk to her? Why did it have to be thru Oprah’s network on TV for her to help her good friend’s daughter? That’s the only thing that stood out to me, but it did seem like Iyanla opened Maia’s eyes to somethings. I hope she continues on the good path, & believe it or not World Star posting that video, that everybody thought was bad, was probably the best thing. It allowed people to see that Maia was sick & step in to help her. Otherwise she could have still been on the streets getting used by men & abusing drugs

  • ShazzNem

    Maia’s story is not unique. If she has the courage to kill two birds with one stone, she should. I applaud her for not doing a private therapy because she clearly wants to heal somebody else besides herself that we may never learn of but who will also have watched and practised the same lessons. Too many of our stories are identical yet are all locked away in confidential files that keeps the whole world bleeding in fact haemorrhaging from spiritual pain and incredible loss by feeling that we are all different. If she recognizes that she is baring her soul to the world of issues we did not could not know before, she knows she is also risking herself and her daughter and I believe this step will form the foundation of learning to face herself, her daughter and her truths. Strangely, I thought her photograph looked like my beloved dearly departed Whitney…wish she had made her story public much earlier, who knows…

  • MRL87

    As a mental health therapist, I think it should be noted that if someone is on psychiatric medication, they have to be consistently working with a psychiatrist, therapist or both. To believe that just because iyanla came on the show equates to her not working with a professional is somewhat of a “not knowing the facts” statement.

    • ShazzNem

      thank you for this..enlightening.

  • I’m not always a fan of “Life Coaches” but I do believe that they have an ability to cut thru some of the BS. One thing I see with Iyanla is that she says the things that us from the outside often think and when the people are ready to “Keep It Real” then they can be open to therapy and really reap the benefits. One important thing to note was that Ms. Campbell was living at a halfway house and actively receiving therapy. But unfortunate, that therapy may not be useful until the recipient is able to face the truth…. no matter how ugly

    • Masterpieced

      Right. Schooled therapists have nothing on our elders talking truth.

  • Lyndon

    It SHOULD be hard to watch. These are the infant phases of “real” therapy (the type most of us run from). The type of therapy “most” black folk need. And the little girl the author claims to see is eerily similar to the child most of us subdue, instead pretend to be normal or “ok”. I salute anybody with courage to go on this show. It’s doing more good by allowing us to see ourselves and break down the stigma counsel is for crazy folk. In fact, it’s only probably difficult to watch because we see ourselves in each and every episode.

    • yep. i agree

    • Nikki

      You hit the nail on the head!!! I honestly don’t see why blacks don’t get help that they need. I see so many kids who act out only because of what’s going on at home.

      Being raised by grandparents and wondering where the heck your parents are, don’t know who your father is, your father isn’t around, your mother tells you that all men are dogs or she encourages promiscuity, watching one parent beat another, watching your mother/father drink heavily or abuse drugs, etc. All this stuff really makes some people a little off balance and is usually the reason why some people turn out a little crazy…

    • exactly. i will also concur you hit the nail on the head.

  • Lola Allen

    I thought it was exploitation to the fullest. I wasn’t a fan of this episode nor am I a fan of the show. Its all about ratings at any cost. Since Maias mother is her good friend, she should’ve worked with her off camera even if Maia reached out to her first.

  • Space

    sure there is someone else helping her the facility she in have pychitrist there bipolar disorder cant be fix by life coach I know iyanla is counceling her off camera have know iyanla only comes if ask her by being her mother friend it was a personal concern for maia.

    • msgeegee

      say what?

  • currvalicious

    I am so praying for Maia’s recovery. Watching her & Iyanla’s exchange was riveting & so real, I feel she got across her feelings despite being on the meds. The meds are going to be a big part of her life/, so she must learn to adjust to them. Hopefully as she gets better perhaps like one blogger said here her dosage can be readjusted to suit her progress. I hope Iyanla does a follow-up w/Maia, as well as provide off-screen therapy to assist her. I am so rooting for this young woman to be whole. I’m also going to make it my business to read “72 Hour Hold” by her beloved Mom the author BeBe Moore Campbell, just to get a better understanding of what she dealt w/while dealing w/a child w/bi-polar disorder.

  • Yay!

    I completely disagree with this article. It’s my understanding the Maia reached out to Iyanla. She must be of reasonable enough mind if she knows she needs help. Although she was medicated her emotions were very present. You could feel the hurt and shame she felt for abusing drugs and being absent from her daughter’s life. You could see the sadness she felt for having bi-polar disorder. When she acted out speaking to her mother’s grave I got really teary at the sorrow in her voice. Stories like Maia’s are happening more often than we care to talk about in black communities. Iyanla and Maia had the realest conversation ever on primetime involving a black person and mental disorder. I think it’s in very poor taste for the author to suggest Maia not share her story publically.

  • Guest360

    I don’t think it was too soon, but I do agree she was a little slow in her demeanor. But I attribute that to the medication she’s on. But back to the point, she has the intentions of taking back her life both emotionally and legally. She needs to be confronted with where she’s been before she can thoroughly realize where she wants to go and what she needs to do to get there. I didn’t particularly like the “acting” exercises. I didnt think that was necessary but it put her where she needed to be. She confronted some of her issues and got the “big picture”. Hopefully Iyanla continues to work with her, off camera. Im definitely praying for her. She’s very talented and appears to have a beautiful family who loves her and wants her back. I hope she doesn’t let her past dictate her future anymore.

  • Ambitous12

    I think it was the meds slowing her down. Personally I don’t think she’s slow or anything I think it’s the meds. Those meds ain’t nothing to play with. I have high hopes for her and I hope she gets better.

    • Common Cent$

      I couldn’t agree more. When you listen to what she was saying and not just what she was saying you’ll see she understood a lot. I’m praying they adjust her dosage so she can fully recover. I think while her mother was trying help her she may have hendered her fully understand her diagnosis.

      • Common Cent$

        I meant to say what she was saying and not how she was saying it.


    I am sooo with you…watching her was like watching that 12 year old Iyanla was trying to get her to be. She just seemed olut of it and emotionless. She said that the meds slow her down but that baby was just plain slow. Its no wonder she doesn’t wanna take her meds. Who wants to take something that have you pretty much life-less.
    I still wish her luck and many blessings. I hope to see much more of her in the future. She is still a beautiful, young woman that really wants to get better.
    I really agree that Iyanla should at least open up a therapy office if she already hasn’t. Ppl out here really need ongiong help and to rally face their demons.

    • Lyndon

      Do you realize what the option to medication is? Lifelessness.