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Wendy Williams (Karl Giant)

Wendy Williams Dishes Her Own Dirt

by NPR Staff
May 6, 2013 (Tell Me More)

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Daytime television talk show host Wendy Williams is known for pushing the envelope and dishing the dirt on celebs. She got her start over 20 years ago, as a radio DJ and host. Williams quickly became known in New York as a "shock jockette" who never bit her tongue.

Her quick humor has made The Wendy Williams Show one of the most popular in daytime talk. But Wendy's road to stardom had its bumps.

On Drug Use

"I was addicted to cocaine — crack cocaine," Williams tells Tell Me More host Michel Martin, referring to her 10-year drug binge that ended when she turned 30. "Cooking it ... getting it up in the Bronx. This was before cell phones, waiting, just like a real fiend — waiting on Jerome Avenue at three o'clock in the morning as a single woman with a thriving career here in New York," she says. She finally kicked the habit when things got serious with the man who would later become her husband.

"Thank God I never got stopped by the cops to shame my family, and myself, and lose my job. Thank God I never got raped — robbed — or killed in an alley. Thank God my heart never palpitated to the point where I was dead in my apartment," Williams says.

She thinks it's important to talk about her addiction, particularly for people in the black community. "We, as a people, we've got a hard time sending Uncle Cecil, who's been an alcoholic all his life, to alcohol rehab. Instead, we will just prop him up on the couch at Thanksgiving and keep feeding him his Chivas Regal. That's not right," she says.

Humble Beginnings

Wendy Williams is known for her glamorous outfits and extravagant hair. But she wasn't always the wig-wearing diva we know now.

"I grew up a fat kid, an average student at best . . . I've never been to a prom," she says. "I always thought a lot, and kept it in my head, and swore that once I escaped Ocean Township, New Jersey, that I was going to make something of myself."

Being A Black Television Host

Williams is an equal-opportunity gossip - she likes juicy stories, and it doesn't matter if the celebrity in question is black.

"It is a heavy burden on the shoulders of black people in the public eye. I consider myself part of the mainstream. Yes, I am black. I acknowledge my black all day long. My black husband, my black son, my black parents — blackey black black. And I eat pork, and I love fried chicken!," Williams says. "But with that said... for me to leave off the story about L.L. Cool J would be hypocritical. But I'm talking about Lindsay Lohan. It's a delicate line to walk, but it is what it is, we're in 2013."

Her New Book

Williams has a new advice book called, Ask Wendy. She says writing the book was a no-brainer.

"Ask Wendy is something that I had been doing on my radio show for years," she says, "I find that the older I have gotten, the more people come with even deeper questions. And the more that I've revealed about myself, the more people are not shy to reveal of themselves. This book is based on letters you've written me."

Williams gives an example of the type of advice she's dishing out: "Dear Wendy, my husband is always commenting on how hot the baby sitter is. Should I be worried? You know what I told her? Yes and you should also fire the baby sitter!"

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