A Mississippi woman is claiming that the OWN show featuring life coach Iyanla Vazant is a “carbon copy” of her own work, a proposed show called “The Agency,” and is seeking unspecified damages.
“The two television shows are virtually identical,” Otisa C. Strickland wrote in papers filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. “Both shows involve a counselor that travels all over the United States to people homes [sic] to counsel them about their problems.”
Strickland says that Winfrey had access to her ideas because in 2011 she claimed copyright infringement on another OWN show, “In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman.” But in a letter attached to the lawsuit filed this week, OWN said that Strickland’s proposed show, “Conflict Solutions,” featured a completely different concept based on a judge resolving disputes, rather than a sex therapist helping couples.
“Iyanla,” which premiered in 2012, returned in September for its sixth season, drawing 670,000 total viewers according to Nielsen, slipping 7 percent compared to the Season 5 premiere.
Past show topics have included attitudes about “angry black women,” broken families and a closeted gay pastor.
Strickland is representing herself in the case.
A spokesperson for OWN did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.