Byrne, Rhonda

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Byrne, Rhonda

Selected Writings

Television producer and writer

B orn 1955, in Melbourne, Australia; daughter of Ronald; married (divorced); children: Hailey.

Addresses: Contact—c/o 1235-A North Clybourn Ave., Ste. 416, Chicago, IL 60610.


B egan career as a producer/writer for the Nine Network; co-founded own production company, Prime Time Productions, 1994; created The Secret documentary, 2005; published The Secret book, 2006.


W hile Rhonda Byrne began her career working in television in Australia, she came to international prominence for her DVD and book entitled The Secret. In these products, Byrne revealed her philosophy called the Law of Attraction to help people get what they want out of life. The Secret became a phenomenon, selling more than two million DVDs and four million books within the first year of release. Though Byrne rarely gave interviews, she believed her success showed that she practiced what she preached.

Born in 1955 in Melbourne, Australia, Byrne was a successful television producer and writer working in Australia, first with the Nine Network, where she worked on a version of The Tonight Show for many years. In 1994, she co-founded her own production company, Prime Time Productions. Byrne was then involved in the production of such reality programs for Australian television as World’s Greatest Commercials, Great Escapes, OZ Encounters—UFO’s in Australia, Marry Me, and the true crime series, Sensing Murder. It was around the time of filming Sensing Murder that Byrne dealt with turmoil that came to inspire her to create The Secret.

Her father died in 2004, and her mother became deeply despondent and shared her overwhelming feelings with her daughter. Then the production of Sensing Murder depressed Byrne herself, both because of the subject matter and numerous problems that cropped up during the production. Her relationship with her production team became problematic, then she learned that the financial status of her production company was such that she did not have enough money to finish two more films that had to be completed that year.

Byrne’s daughter Hailey learned of her mother’s problems and showed her a book by Wallace Wattles from 1910. In The Science of Getting Rich, the author argued that the thoughts people had could define their lives. Bad thoughts led to bad situations, while good thoughts led to positive results. Doing research on Wallace’s law of attraction, Byrne discovered it lay in ancient philosophy and had been affecting people for centuries.

Byrne then decided to do a television show on her findings and the philosophy of the law of attraction. Originally created in conjunction with Australia’s Channel 9, Byrne interviewed a number of teachers and philosophers who embraced the belief system espoused by Wallace. She conducted most of these interviews in the United States even as her funding became questionable. Her first television distribution deal fell through, and the funding for each step of the project was not in place from the beginning. Still, Byrne finished her documentary on a $3 million budget in 2005.

Though Channel 9 dropped out and did not air the documentary until after it became a success, Byrne found an audience first on video-streaming on the Internet. Interest spread by word of mouth. She later released a DVD version of what came to be known as The Secret DVD movie in 2006. Within a year of this DVD release, Byrne had sold more than two million copies. A book version, published about six months later, was similarly successful. Several million books were purchased within six months of publication.

Some, like Jack Canfield, the coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Soul, believed the success of The Secret lay with Byrne herself. Touching on the reason for the phenomenon, Canfield wrote in Time, “It is primarily because Byrne’s love and joy permeate every frame and every page. Her intention was pure and simple—to uplift as much of humanity as she could reach, and so far she has reached millions.”

Touting her philosophy, Byrne told Carol Memmott of USA Today that “Everyone has to have their own experience to believe. People should start with little things like deciding a cup of coffee will come to you or that you’ll see a feather. There’s no difference between attracting a feather and anything else you want. It’s as easy to attract one dollar as it is $10,000.”

Many found the ideas in The Secret to be encouraging and prudent. Byrne herself claimed that people wrote in with such success stories as getting rid of chronic pain, finding a longed-for mate, and diseases disappearing. Because of such stories and massive sales, Byrne appeared on a two-show Oprah special, as well as the talk shows of Larry King and Ellen DeGeneres, which only increased interest in The Secret. More books by other authors inspired by The Secret were also published.

But as Byrne became an internationally known figure, others began criticizing her and The Secret. American self-help gurus Jerry and Esther Hicks had been promoting a similar philosophy for years and appeared on the first version of the DVD. They later claimed that they had a falling out with Byrne after a promised sales cut of ten percent on DVD never materialized. Esther Hicks was removed from the film, and the couple declined to sue for breach of contract citing their life philosophy.

Skeptics also derided The Secret’s emphasis on material wealth and possessions. Others believed the book and DVD were worthless. American psychologist John Norcross told Peter Sheridan of the Express, “It’s pseudo-scientific psychobabble. About 10 per cent of self-help books are rated by mental health professionals as damaging. This is probably one.”

Despite the many detractors, Byrne became a multi-millionaire and believed in what she revealed in The Secret. She told Colin Vickery of Australia’s Herald Sun, “I was trying to change things on the outside and you can’t. You’ve got to feel it on the inside and everything else will change.”

Selected Writings

The Secret, Atria Books, 2006.



Express (United Kingdom), March 2, 2007, p. 34.

Newsweek, March 5, 2007, p. 52.

Publishers Weekly, August 13, 2007, p. S4.


“Company Biography,” The Secret, (November 11, 2007).

“Cosmic secret pays out earthly dollars for controversial guru,” Sydney Morning Herald, (November 11, 2007).

“Making The Secret—A Brief History,” The Secret, (November 11, 2007).

“Rhonda Byrne—The Time 100,” Time,,28804,1595326_1615737_1615871,00.html (November 11, 2007).

Secret attracts plenty of attraction,” USA Today, (November 11, 2007).

“The Secret Life of Rhonda,” Herald Sun,,21985,21062184.tif-5006022,00.html (November 11, 2007).

—A. Petruso

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