Julie Chen's secret is out. The hosts of The Talk have been sharing surprising revelations this week, and on Wednesday, Sept. 11, it was Chen's turn to 'fess up. Speaking with her co-hosts in what turned out to be an emotional episode, the veteran journalist disclosed that she had undergone plastic surgery nearly 20 years earlier in order to make her "Asian eyes" look bigger.
"My secret dates back to -- my heart is racing -- it dates back to when I was 25 years old and I was working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio," the 43-year-old Chinese-American television personality began. "I asked my news director over the holidays, 'If anchors want to take vacations, could I fill in?' And he said, 'You will never be on this anchor desk, because you're Chinese."
"He said, 'Let's face it, Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton?'" she recalled. "'On top of that, because of your heritage, because of your Asian eyes, sometimes I've noticed when you're on camera and you're interviewing someone, you look disinterested, you look bored.'"
Not long after, Chen started looking for another job. But she ran into the same problem when she tried to find an agent to represent her. "This one big-time agent basically told me the same thing," she revealed. "He said, 'I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look bigger.'"
Chen's career was important to her, so she took the agent's advice to heart and considered her options. "[My parents and I] had a long conversation about if it would be denying my heritage," she said. "You know, my mom calls one auntie, my father calls an uncle...it spread to my entire family. It divided the family. Members of my family wanted to disown me if I got it done."
Wanting to someday sit behind an anchor desk, she had the surgery anyway. And afterward, "the ball did roll" for her career, she confessed. "And I wondered, did I give in to the man?"
Regardless, she has no regrets. "No one's more proud of being Chinese than I am," she told her co-hosts. "And I have to live with the decisions I've made. Every decision I've made...it got [me] to where we are today, and I'm not going to look back."