Angel Richardson failed ninth grade at Baltimore’s Franklin High School three times. She ended up quitting high school and never looking back.
The vivacious YouTube personality, life coach, and author Richardson told the AFRO, “I quit high school when I was sixteen years old and never went back to get my diploma or GED.”
Looking back, she realized the work wasn’t as hard as she believed at the time. “It’s funny”, she explains, “because now that I have children of my own and I see their work and I’m like, ‘I could have done this if I paid attention or believed in myself.’”
She attributes two things to her underwhelming performance in high school. One was her peer group. “All the girlfriends that I had, my close-knit girlfriends, we all quit school at the same time. We all got pregnant around the same time, we all were getting help from the state at the same time. They were all doing the same things I was doing,” she said.
Another factor, which likely weighs much more heavily into her inability to thrive as a young girl was, “being called stupid by my mother as I was growing up. As a consequence, I made a lot of decisions that helped me validate that I was stupid.”
A member of Oprah Winfrey’s army of life experts, Iyanla Vanzant, changed all that. A stay at home mother on welfare by seventeen, for years Richardson made it a habit of watching many of the talk shows that aired daily. “I’m living in a government home where, at that time, my television bill was more than my rent. I’m watching Iyanla on the ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ and she said how she used to be on government assistance and living in public housing. Now she was wealthy,” Richardson said.
The irony hit Richardson like a ton of bricks. “That was the very first time that I had ever heard or seen welfare and wealth in the same sentence. I knew there were rich people but never someone becoming rich after being on public assistance.” Richardson was also struck by the many parallels between her and Vanzant’s lives. “She was talking about when she was younger she didn’t like the tone of her voice. I didn’t either. I thought it was too deep to be a girl. She didn’t like the texture of her hair. I didn’t either. She didn’t like the color of her skin. I didn’t either. It was like everything that she was saying was so me. But at the end of the day she is sitting on the stage with Oprah Winfrey. Like how did she do this?”
Inspired, Richardson ran out and “bought every product that [Vanzant] had on the market. Back then it was cassette tapes. I got all of her cassette tapes and her books and I just devoured them. Because of that it started opening me up to see myself in a different way.”
Since then, the longtime congregant at Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple went on to open her own cleaning business which she ran with her husband of over twenty years. She then opened her own store and became a Christian-based author and life coach with thousands of followers on her Youtube channel.
In addition to what she gleaned from Vanzant, she attributes all her growth and success to God. She says, “My relationship with God is how I am able to have a successful relationship with my husband, with my children, with myself, with the lady at the grocery store. It’s my relationship with God and taking on that responsibility of believing that I am God’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth right here on the earth.”
The key to that relationship is prayer and meditation. In fact, her latest book is called Mornings With God: A Thirty-One Day Morning Prayer and Meditation Journal. She started writing books because she “wanted to give to people what I believe Iyanla gave to me and that was a tool to discover who I was and to help people figure out who they are.” Her core belief is that people should “get in the habit of being still because in that stillness is where they will find the courage to do what their mind is whatever God is calling them to do.”