A rocky road to success. Kelly Ripa is one of the leading daytime television hosts — but getting to that point wasn’t always easy.
The Live Wire author, 52, reflected on the highs and lows of her career in a candid Variety profile published on Tuesday, March 28, as she prepares for another big transition on Live: Ryan Seacrest‘s exit. The twosome began cohosting the talk show in 2017, with the American Idol personality, 48, announcing his departure earlier this year. Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos, will be taking his place.
“I’ve got to tell you: Even during the tough moments, my wife, she’s a worker,” Consuelos, 51, gushed to the outlet. “I’d like to think that she’s made a lot of sacrifices that have advanced the cause for women.”
Ripa got her start on Live in 2001, joining Regis Philbin in the wake of Kathie Lee Gifford‘s departure. The pairing was a hit — but Ripa faced a few challenges behind the scenes.
“I was told that I couldn’t have an office,” the former soap opera star told Variety. “It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially because there were empty offices that I could have easily occupied.”
According to Ripa, the conversations about whether she could have a designated workspace lasted several years. The network allowed her to take over an empty janitor’s closet, allegedly claiming that other offices were being reserved for when executives came to visit the New York studio.
“It was after my fourth year that they finally cleaned out the closet and put a desk in there for me,” she continued, calling the setup “the strangest experience” of her career. “And so I was working in the janitor’s closet with a desk so that I could have a place to put things.”
When Philbin left Live in 2011, Ripa thought she’d finally earned her own office — to no avail. “They said, ‘Oh, no, we’re saving that.’ And I said, ‘Saving it for what?’ And they go, ‘Well, for when the new guy comes.’ And I looked at them, and I said, ‘I am the new guy,'” she recalled. “I just moved my things. I forced my way into the office because I couldn’t understand how I would still be in the janitor’s closet and somebody new would come in and get the office.”
Despite being “the more senior on-air person” on the series following Philbin’s final episode, Ripa still felt like she was being treated as “the new girl.” (Philbin died in July 2020 at age 88.)
Ripa began to notice that exceptions were being made for the show’s male cohosts that weren’t given to her. “All of those offices that were not available to me were suddenly made available, with walls knocked down to make them twice as big,” she claimed. “It was fascinating for me to watch — the need to make the new guy comfortable and respected, but I couldn’t use those offices. I had to use the broom closet.”
The Hope & Faith alum conceded that she didn’t blame “the fellas” for not taking a stand against the apparent discrepancies. “The network had a duty and an obligation to keep all things equal,” she noted. “[The guys] were just doing what they had been told, or what they were instructed to do, or what they thought they deserved. Having said that, I go out of my way to protect the people I’m working with at any and all costs, even if it means that I am not as popular.”
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