Monday, August 21, 2017

Wendy Williams

How you DOIN?

BY KIMBERLY BAILEY-TUREAUD

Is Las Vegas ready for Wendy Williams? The daytime talk queen will be performing live July 11 at The Venetian as part of the Lipshtick Comedy Series in the Sands Showroom.

Wendy Williams

Wendy Williams

Now in its fifth season, “The Wendy Williams Show” can be seen in 52 countries and has already been renewed through 2017. And her appearances are far from limited to that can’t-miss daily hour: Williams has appeared as various characters on television and can also be seen in the hit comedy, “Think Like a Man Too,” she was also a popular contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Listed in 2012 and 2013 as one of the Hollywood Reporter’s “35 Most Powerful People in Media,” Williams is an example of success granted for the people and by the people. Developed over a 23-year career in radio, that populist ethos has given her an amazing ability to connect with any audience. Now, it is being immortalized: Williams recently donated a number of items to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, making her as the first daytime television talk show host to do so.

Williams recently sat down with Las Vegas Black Image Magazine to discuss her one-time-only Vegas performance, secrets to her success, family, life and love.

What can we expect from your show at the Venetian?

My performance will be a comedy show that is a part of the Lipshtick Comedy Series at The Venetian. I was so honored to be asked to do it. It was on my bucket list when I turned 50. I thought I would be doing it in a hole in a wall in New York, following other several comedians in a room of only 75 people. So performing at The Venetian is bigger than I ever imagined. I am not nervous at all. I just want to be sure I tell the right stories. So, I constantly have my book of stories with me to write material down. A lot of comedians tell stories, and that is what I will be doing — telling funny stories about my life with a comedic twist. Yes, there will be [off-color] jokes because I have a few things to say about life, having a baby, losing a baby, and tragedy in comedy and comedy in tragedy. Also, I will talk about being married, cooking, doing my talk show, and life in general. Seventy-two minutes is a lot of time on stage, but I don’t want an opening act because this is a one-time performance for me. I am just going to do the damn thing (laughs). I have received great comedic advice from Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock and my comedy coach, Luenell. I am practicing my jokes in my television studio with my staff, because I didn’t want my jokes to be told in front of a live audience in a comedy club, and have it show up on YouTube before my Vegas performance.

Why do you believe “The Wendy Williams Show” is such a success?

After being here for five seasons, I say with pride: Our show is different because of its host. I used to be embarrassed to say it, because it sounded too self-serving. Nevertheless, that is really what it comes down to. My “hot topics” are the same topics covered on “The View” and “The Talk” television shows. The guests are the same that go on other talk shows — except when I interview them, the questions might be different. I enjoy doing the show, and I think people see that when I emerge from the double doors at the opening of my show. It’s slightly messy — alright, the show is very messy. If you want to see a polished talk show turn to the “Today” show. Our show is a mess — but when I say that, I mean it in a ‘good’ way.

When you come out of the double doors at the start of your show, do you sometimes get emotional when the audience goes wild?

Growing up, I was never the popular girl. I was a wallflower and never went to a prom. I was one of only four African-Americans in my graduating class. The other three African-Americans in my class called me “White Girl.” I don’t mean to say this in a violin and heartstring way — but I never felt good enough when I was younger. I was never thin enough, short enough or smart enough. So the idea that I am now the “head cheerleader” on television is amazing, and it kills me. Like, “Oh, my God!” I can’t believe it every time those doors open and I walk out to do my show.

How did your catchphrase, “How you doin?” originate?

Well, it started when I was doing radio in Philadelphia and we would have this gay character, Shauntee, come on the show who was a comedian. Shauntee would come into the studio and address us and I would say, ‘How you doin?’ I then incorporated the catchphrase into my broadcast when I went back to New York to do radio. The catchphrase and how it is used now has less to do with Shauntee, and more to do with … breaking up tension when in conversation with people. I am a very imposing woman in terms of my stature; some people get frightened of big women. I am in the service industry … and I can’t have people nervous to deal with me, talk to me or to say hello. I only have 30 seconds to prove to viewers that I am a nice woman before they change the channel. So, I brought the catchphrase to the television show and it caught on like wildfire. It’s one of those things you can’t say without smiling. All I want people to do is smile for one hour while watching “The Wendy Williams Show.” Let me help you take your mind off your stuff, and when the show is over you can go back to your messy life and I can go back to mine.

What lessons have you’ve learned at 50?

I have learned that 50 years young is really still hot. I mean that in the most attractive way. Turning 50 is still hot, and a 25-year-old girl is making a big mistake if she thinks 50 is old and she needs to quickly find love at 25 years of age because turning 50 means you are on the other side of life. Turning 50 is still hot, vital, vibrant, and youthful depending on how you spend the first 49 years. My son is 13 years of age now, and my husband, Kevin, and I have made our plans after he graduates from college. New Jersey is great for raising children and having a family. But after my son goes to college, we have a whole other life planned. We are selling this house and moving to Manhattan — and I am going to be a socialite.

If you had a celebrity friend who was involved in a popular gossip story, would you still talk about it on your show or dismiss it because of your friendship?

That is an excellent question. I know a lot of celebrities, and there are some celebrities who are really lovely people. But if I get too close to any particular celebrity, it taints “hot topics” on my show. So I make a concerted effort not to get too close. You are my people, and my audiences are my people, and this talk show is my livelihood. I must remain neutral and kiss the celebrities and say goodbye. I mean goodbye until I see them next time on my show.

What is your eating and exercise routine for staying healthy and fit?

I go to the gym twice a week — and I hate it. I would tell you I purposely try to show up late instead of having an entire hour to work out. I am fine with working out for 50 minutes and I adore my trainer. I go to a small boutique gym, and my trainer works out one client at a time. She is also my girlfriend, and we talk throughout the exercises which takes my mind off the workout. Additionally, I always eat a big breakfast and decrease my eating throughout the day. I like to say, “I eat like a queen in the morning, a princess in the afternoon for lunch and a pauper for dinner.”

What is the biggest challenge facing the African-American community?

One of the biggest challenges for us is keeping our families intact. For whatever reason, some of us pick the wrong guy — and I do believe in divorce. If you are not happy in a relationship or marriage, your children certainly won’t be happy. I think the breakdown of the black family is just tragic in our community. Gone are the days that some women grow up admiring their parent’s long tenure of marriage. When I was in college and was asked who I most admire I replied, “My parents.” They still hold hands to this day, and I think I walked in on them being intimate one time (laughter). I think that is great. They are retired now and live in Miami, Fla. They still share secrets and glances with one another. They raised my two other siblings and I to be the best we could be. I am a marrying girl, personally. I am not the girl who would be comfortable with just having a baby and living with someone. I have very traditional values that are deeply rooted, which my mother and father taught me without having to say anything. It was from my observations.

What would be your advice for African-American women who are single and looking for love?

What I would say to them is what I say to my girlfriends who have never dated outside of their own race: If you develop more of an open mind and date a white man, it doesn’t negate your blackness. I am down with the swirl. I would also say that not all men are gay or in jail and we don’t have to be angry. I believe that many women don’t walk out of their house ready for love to come calling. I am not saying that you have to have a full face of makeup on, or tight jeans and cleavage showing. You can be physically ready for love to come calling with just a sweatsuit on and Chapstick on your lips. But the best accessory is a great smile and a bubbly personality. None of this is a put-on; it’s all real. When I was single, my dance card was always full. That is even before the breast implants, liposuction, and I was 220 pounds. What I would say to our girls in the “sistahood” is that you have to think outside the box. I am 5 feet 11 inches tall — and if I was still single and 50, you are damn right I would date a man with a big personality who was 4 feet and 11 inches tall. Now I am more mature and I get it, but when I was younger and single I would never date a man shorter than me.

What is something about yourself that the public is unaware of?

Many people are unaware that I deeply, deeply enjoy my own company. And I say this on television, but I don’t think the people fully understand because the girl I am on TV is so personable — everybody’s girl. I am truly authentic on television, but when the show is over I come home. We don’t have a lot of company in the house. I find that “celebrity” is a very, very weird thing. I treat it like a carton of eggs in terms of what I share about myself with my friends and with the world. If I was on house arrest I would rejoice in having to stay home. That would be perfect for me.

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