Soapbox: Wendy Williams

Whether you’ve heard her on the radio, picked up her best-selling book or even seen her checking the boys on Logo’s A-List reunion specials, nothing compares to the feisty Wendy Williams at home on her syndicated daytime talk show, The Wendy Williams Show. Always quick to get the dish and ask celebrities the questions we wish we could ask, the self-proclaimed Queen of All Media (and quite frankly, the only one we care about) is the authority on all things pop culture. But this time, we put Wendy Williams in the hot seat to tell us, “how she’s durrin’” in this brand-new extended Soapbox!

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Long before I was doing daytime TV, [The Wendy Williams Show] was a dream that I had been practicing in my head. I left radio after that being my career for 23 years! Radio had only been a four-hour slot for me, which means I was home at some point during the day to watch my court shows and my talk shows. It’s what I studied. It’s what I wanted to go into. In 2011 I started writing books and I became a New York Times best-selling author, and that was fun and cute, but I was really ready to do something different. After a while you yearn to learn something new. When I can do something with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back, it starts to become boring for me. It’s not that way for everybody. For example, I don’t want my marriage to be like an old, comfortable sofa. I go to the gym, then a week later my husband notices a muscle where there wasn’t, or I notice something [new] about him, he walks in a room and I go, “Ooh! I’d do him all over again!” You know what I mean?

[The Wendy Williams Show] started off as a six-week sneak peek in Detroit, L.A., Dallas and New York. I had six weeks to make the rest of my life, so there was enormous pressure in that. This is now our third season into the show, and I’m not surprised at the success as far as the things I am able to control, but I am pleasantly happy at the endurance of the show. Like, “Oh, my God, America gets it!” Our show is in over 50 countries around the world. But you know, it all starts here.

And it’s not just all about the East Coast and the West Coast, because if I could just rely on L.A. and New York everything would always be fabulous. You have to make sure our watchers in Cleveland get it. You have to make sure that the people in Wisconsin get it. You have to be able to give a little something to everybody while still being yourself.

Having the chutzpah to come out of the closet with our true selves is what the gay community and I have in common. I’m 5 foot 11, I love big heels, but I never felt confident enough to be loud and proud with exactly who I am. I was scared that if I voiced opinions that I’d be chased back into my closet, so to speak. I’ve always had thoughts, but I had just been too nervous to say them out loud; too nervous of what the popular opinion would be and then I wouldn’t be strong enough to stand on my own. But look—I’m not getting any shorter! My personality is not going anyplace. I think that having confidence in myself to stand alone in my opinion—honestly, it sounds cliché—but for me has come with age. And [gay men are also] the best cheerleaders! They make a woman feel fabulous. Behind every fabulous woman there is at least one gay, and for me, several. Who do you think twists my wigs to the point where we got the Daytime Emmy? Of course, a gay man!

The kind of family that I come from, everyone’s a good talker. We were kind of raised to be like the United Nations:   a place of acceptance and ideas for everyone. And that is what I enjoy about doing our Wendy show—no matter who the guest is, I think that you, the viewer, just want to see a connection with us. Because if you’re watching the show, then you’re part of me—we’re us!

I consider myself [to be] a modern parent, but I do know parents of my same generation who aren’t as modern. We have always taught our son to respect other people’s choices and opinions. Doesn’t mean you have to go along with their choices and opinions, but you respect them and everyone needs to be treated like a human being. [My son] Kevin has known gay people all of his life because I have had gay people around me all of my life. In our particular case it also helps that we are raising a black boy, and he sees “driving while black.” He knows what that is! He knows what “walking while black is.” He understands, so we are able to do a direct correlation with him as it relates to society. 

I can’t think of anything that people can’t ask me, but when we get to that particular question whatever it might be, I’ll tell you no and maybe I’ll give you a reason why or maybe I won’t. I’m a woman and I have a right to say no comment. I think that that’s where celebrities get their feathers in a ruffle because they forget there’s a such thing as saying “no comment.” I’m perfectly polite, [and was] raised perfectly polite to understand when you don’t want to comment, you don’t want to comment. I don’t enjoy doing a whole lot of talking about my family life. I feel as though my son didn’t ask to be born into this. My husband, while we met and started dating when I was very popular on the radio, his persona has consistently been he wants to be in the back to help propel me; he loves being the manager, the executive producer, the business man. And I don’t want to violate his privacy or the sanctity of our home. 

My wish list for right now is to be renewed after our 2014 season is over, but I know what I want my next transition to be. I want to be a society gal! I’m launching my line on QVC, and I’ve got a shoe line coming out in the fall, so I’m in the process of branding myself. Little Kev is coming of age right now where he needs his parents here more than ever, and I don’t have the time that I would like to devote to charity. I mean, I do what I can in terms of physically going out and being there, but I would like to lend my voice to charity. That’s the next chapter in my life. 
How long do I envision the show going? I would rather not talk about that, but believe me, I spend a lot of time thinking about my future. I want to keep doing the show until I’m ready to go. I mean, Oprah lasted for 25 years. Twenty-five years from now, I’ll be like 100 years old, you know…with lashes! And a good wig!

I just made a promise to myself that you won’t kick me out. I’m not gonna overstay my welcome. I’m gonna leave you wanting more.

Moderated by Christopher Jones; art by Dave Arkle. Be sure to watch The Wendy Williams Show every weekday; check your local listings.