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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