You can learn a lot about Wendy Williams just by looking around her office. The talk show host's desk is ordinary enough. Not so ordinary is the massive, pink sequined swordfish that adorns the wall behind it. Racks of wigs, shoes, accessories and more engulf her.
“I like to be surrounded by creativity and inspiration,” Williams said in an interview with The Huffington Post as she looked up and down the hot pink walls of the office, which sits above her hot pink television studio.
Luckily for her, Williams won't be going anywhere anytime soon. "The Wendy Williams Show," which airs every weekday on Fox stations, was renewed for its fourth and fifth seasons. As her appeal widens, Williams is becoming a noticeable presence in the ever-crowded world of daytime television. However, she said she still has to establish her bona fides from time to time.
“Sometimes I do need to backtrack and explain who I am,” she said. “I’m Wendy Williams. I am in the National Radio Hall of Fame—with Rush Limbaugh, the Lone Ranger, Jack Benny.”
She added, “It’s very important for people to know that I didn’t just land here, for me especially because I’m so opinionated.” And opinionated she is — a quality that seems to have never gone unnoticed. Prior to her syndicated television show, Williams spent more than twenty years on the radio and was most well known for her daily four-hour, gossip-filled gabfest, “The Wendy Williams Experience.” Her show included segments that she kept for her transition to TV, including “Hot Topics,” and “Ask Wendy.”
It’s during these two segments that Williams’ strong personality is on full display. During “Hot Topics,” Williams sips tea and sprinkles the top celebrity headlines with her own, sometimes bawdy, commentary. Her rather blunt delivery and sometimes harsh opinions have led some to wonder if perhaps, she can just be plain mean. Williams denies this.
“This show does not come from a place of mean-spiritedness," she said. "That certainly is not my intention, and I think the things that I say are no different than the things other people say. It’s just that I might couch them differently with a tilt of my wig and a giggle.”
Williams, who refers to her studio audience as her co-host, also dispenses her thoughts without any sidekick with whom to banter.
“I love my girls on ‘The View,’ but sometimes when there’s something harsh that needs to be said, at least they have one another to lean on so you can’t really peg one who actually said it,” Williams said. “With me, I sit there in that pink, tufted chair with my leg crossed holding my tea looking in the camera and I say it. And there’s nobody to either have my back or not, and we’re live and one wrong word, there’s no going back.”
Has Williams regretted anything she’s said? No. “You can’t please everyone. And I am so grateful to have this TV show and I in no way want to torpedo it by having a big mouth. But I also can’t torpedo it by being somebody that I’m not,” she said.
Williams considers herself a friendly neighbor. “I’m the woman who lives across the street from you,” she said. “I come over, we have a cup of tea…and we giggle.” She also shares a remarkable amount of information about her own life on TV. She openly talks of her years battling an addiction to cocaine, her attraction to what she calls "bad boys," and her deep, abiding love for wigs.
While a radio personality, Williams was approached for a career in television as early as the 1990s. Back then, she said, networks were interested in putting her in flat front khakis, loafers, and tucked-in blouses. Considering that Williams’ current style tends towards trendy dresses, leather pants, and four-inch heels, it’s hard to even imagine Williams wearing beige, let alone any kind of khakis.
Williams said she entered college with dreams of becoming a newscaster but that the lifestyle associated with such a profession was not for her. “I didn’t think that I could live up to the reputation that a newscaster should have in their personal life,” she said. “Not that I’m a bad girl but I want to be free to live life on my own terms, and a radio personality is like a – well – nothing would be surprising.”
A self-described free spirit, Williams grew up in what she called a “family of talkers.” Her mother did it all, she said. She worked a full time job, cooked, cleaned, ironed, and raised three children. “It was very important growing up to be a well-rounded woman,” Williams said. “I laugh loud, I love hard, and I do possess the crazy. But the very basis of who I am is rooted in tradition. Marriage, children, career.”
Asked what impact she would like to leave on the world of daytime television, Williams gave a simple answer. “She was a good time. She didn’t take herself too seriously,” she said. “People just want a little joy, and they don’t care what package the joy comes in. The more bows and glitter on it the better, and our show is a very glittery package.”