How Wendy Williams Got Fierce and Fabulous!

Today, she’s a soaring TV star and a happy wife and mother who’s lovin’ her forties. But to help others, she opens up about her early drug addiction. Read the edited version of our interview with her below

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
wendy williams image
Photograph: Karl Giant

More: Congratulations on the new season of The Wendy Williams Show.
Wendy Williams: It is going to be bigger and better than ever! I am so excited, yet I feel so new at this, and green compared to talk legends that have been on television for a while.

More: Who is on your wish list to put in the hot seat?
WW: Hayden Panettiere, who is starring in Nashville. Shia LaBeouf, who is one of my favorite movie stars. I also love Kevin James of King of Queens, I have seen all of his movies and my son and I are huge fans. Kerry Washington of Scandal would be great, especially because it is political season—which of course means I would also love the Obamas and the Romneys. We would talk to them in a smart, fun and Wendy manner.

More: Is it accurate to say you had a slow start after the show launched?
WW: It is like any business, so yes, it was a slow start. I compare it to pedaling uphill. When I think about where we are now, I feel like a well-oiled machine. However, I am not anywhere near where I want to be.

More: Where do you want to be?
WW: I am not sure I will ever feel comfortable saying we got it made and we are a sure thing. In my world, it is public opinion that really counts.

More: Your ratings are huge and you are landing a real A-list guest lineup. What comes to mind when you think of where you began and where you are today?
WW: Oh my gosh! So many things have been tweaked with the show. Although we weren’t broken, we have had to fix things here and there. For me personally, I have developed a lot as a host of a daytime program. I am very comfortable in front of the camera, I am comfortable doing live television, though I am self-conscious about things such as, did I ask the right questions? did I offend that guest? Today I feel very sure of myself as a host. Although there is always room for growth, I feel really good about the position I am in now.

More: Which is?
WW: Daytime TV is geared to women, and now that I am 48 years old it is such a sweet spot for me as a woman. I mean, just being in my forties is a sweet spot. I am really enjoying this time in my life. I am embracing every birthday, I have a 12-year-old son, I am a proud parent, and a proud wife to my husband of 14 years. I feel I have so much in common with my audience. I want to be a decent role model for my family and my audience. Being on daytime TV allows me to do that.

More: You mentioned twice that you are in your forties. That seems important to you.
WW: Yes, it is. Age is just a number, on one hand. On the other hand, age is relative to the information you are dispensing. Yes, my body might have changed, but I am also proud to say this is the same body that birthed a child and survived three miscarriages and thyroid disease. Forget the number. In my book, it is not over until you lie down and say, It is over!

More: That’s a lot to go through.
WW: When I was pregnant with our son I gained 103 pounds and was on bed rest. I am a tall, meaty girl. Through my own determination, I have a body that I am proud of. Yes, I have to watch it every single day. I grew up in a body conscious family. I mean, I was on my first diet when I was in first grade; my parents monitored my food when I was in first grade. It wasn’t until recently that I developed a healthy relationship with food. If I were on Mad Men, I would have to be thin and wear a pencil skirt, because my character would need to be sexy. But if you were to ask me why I got my job, I would say it is because I am entertaining. My job has nothing to do with my weight. I don’t feel the pressure to be thin. But, being a woman, I do want to be sexy, especially for my husband.

More: Speaking of the past, you have a dark one. 
WW: I do have a past.

More: You have admitted to abusing drugs.
WW: Yes. It is all a part of the cleanup. You take a long hard look in the mirror and say, “You have so much potential—don’t waste it.” I was raised in a loving household in New Jersey. I had so many advantages that people don’t particularly have. A black woman, I had two parents who are not only college graduates but have master's degrees. My older sister is an attorney and my brother is a schoolteacher. I mean, I was raised in a solid middle-class lifestyle and yet here I was screwing it all up with a drug habit.

More: Many people might think, how did a kid who grew up in such a positive household get hooked on drugs?
WW: Access. I grew up in Ocean Township, New Jersey, where there were plenty of drugs. When you ask why did I do it, the answer is, because I could get away with it.

More: After the passing of Whitney Houston, you were quoted as saying, “It's been almost 15 years since I smoked last from a crack pipe and it's been almost 15 years since I waited on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx for my drugs.”
WW: Yes, that was my reality.

More: Did something happen that encouraged you to get clean and sober?
WW: I just looked in the mirror one day and decided I wanted more for myself, so I stopped. I decided I didn’t want that lifestyle anymore. I just stopped and never looked back.

More: Just like that?
WW: I have never been tempted to go back, and yes, I know I will always be labeled as that. I am fine with all of that. The more of us who get clean and pass the message, maybe the more people will follow in our footsteps and get healthy too.

More: Because kids learn so much from the Internet, have you shared your history with your son so he gets it from you and not from downloading a published report?
WW: My son knows the score with me. My husband and I sit and talk to him. We don’t give him more information than he can handle. If he comes to us with questions we give him a straight answer. When I talk to him about drugs, I tell him there is no way he will be able to pull one over on me if he tries them, because I did it and will be two steps ahead of him in terms of what to look for.

More: I read somewhere you said, “That is a period I can now laugh about.” Can you explain why this is now a laughing matter?
WW: The drugs are sad, but some of the antics and the time I sat waiting in my car or standing at a pay phone are comical to me. I remember being paranoid, which to me is now dark humor. Look, you have to find the humor in your escapades and know that is not the same person.

More: You are also being an advocate, encouraging people to steer away from drugs.
WW: I have spoken to many people about the perils of being caught up in addiction. I would love to be a national spokesperson for “Just Say No.” I want someone from Washington to call me up and point me in the direction they need me to go. Look, drugs are not a black thing or a white thing. They destroy anybody and everybody who uses them!

More: What do you see when you look in the mirror?
WW: With no ego being involved, just a woman who knows the struggles she went through to get to where she is today, I am very proud of myself. I am proud of what I have accomplished in my career, I am proud of the relationship I have with my mother and father. I am a responsible member of my community, I am a devoted wife and mother, and through it all I got people laughing. I really feel like a survivor, so no matter what you throw out at me, I will survive it!

More: I read a report that stated Howard Stern has been labeled the King of All Media while Wendy Williams has been labeled the Queen of All Media.
WW: Isn’t that fabulous? I’ll take it. (laughs)

The Wendy Williams show will begin airing new episodes on September 10.

Click here to read We Investigate Mary McDonnell from Major Crimes.

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First Published Tue, 2012-09-04 22:25

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