The Transformation Of Wendy Williams From 31 To 56 Years Old
Radio DJ-turned-talk show host Wendy Williams has been a staple of daytime television for more than a decade. During that time, the professional gossiper has been at the center of quite a lot of gossip herself. Williams seems ready to hash it all out in her new biopic Wendy Williams: The Movie, set to premiere on Lifetime on Jan. 30, 2021. The biopic is said to provide “a revealing look at Wendy’s journey, from her scrappy upstart days in urban radio to the success of her own syndicated talk show,” per Lifetime.
The movie’s trailer starts with Williams (played by Ciera Payton) asserting herself as a host that has a lot to offer. “It’s your girl Wendy Williams on the mic. I am here to stay. Wendy Williams is not going anywhere,” she presses. The movie holds nothing back, talking about Williams’ drug use and her husband’s infidelity and everything in between.
In honor of her new project coming out, let’s take a look back at the transformation of Wendy Williams from 31 to 56 years old.
Wendy Williams landed her television show in 2008
At the time the above photo was taken, Wendy Williams was a 31-year-old rising radio host and media mogul. She had worked in media since graduating from Boston’s Northeastern University in 1986 (per Biography), most notably heading a top-rated radio daily show in New York called “The Wendy Williams Experience,” as noted in her Wendy Williams Show biography. She was also a new mom, having tied the knot with Kevin Hunter in 1997 and giving birth to their son Kevin Hunter Jr. in 2000.
A few years later, Williams teamed up with then-husband Hunter (per Variety) to create her syndicated talk show, The Wendy Williams Show. The show premiered on July 14, 2008, just four days before Williams’ 34th birthday. “I was born to do this. I’m not a manufactured product,” Williams told The Hollywood Reporter 11 years after the show premiered and became a successful, Emmy-nominated daytime talk show. “It feels like I’m talking about somebody else, not me,” she added about her fame and achievements. “I’m Wendy from Jersey. My family doesn’t treat me any different. The public treats me different, but I still don’t feel [it].”
Williams didn’t only have her eye set on a television show. She planned to use her brand to push herself into other areas of entertainment as well.
Wendy Williams: talk show host and comedian
Wendy Williams translated her gift of gab into a comedy routine in 2014 when she signed on to join an all-female-based comedy series called Lipshtick – The Perfect Shade of Stand Up at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Her debut show sold out and ended with a standing ovation, according to a 2015 interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
Comedy was never a set goal for Williams, but the media mogul was encouraged by Kevin Hunter during her 50th birthday party to think of something she wanted to try. Thus, the comedian was born. She kicked off her debut solo tour, called Sit Down Tour — Too Real for Stand Up, in 2015 and performed across 15 cities. In terms of what she produces while on tour, Williams stressed that her comedy material is just as genuine as her show topics. “Like, have you every had your kid walk in on you when you’re having sex? Let’s talk about it. What about being a woman of particular age in a young world? What people can expect is that kind of stuff. We’ll have ourselves a glass of wine or something stronger and get into it,” she told The Times. Williams also went planned to tour in 2019, but had to cancel it.
Turning 50 did not just offer an exciting moment for her career. It was the big 5-0 that encouraged Williams to get herself in shape both on and off the stage.
Wendy Williams had a dramatic transformation at age 50
While Wendy Williams is usually looking camera ready, she didn’t always feel that way. The famous television host opened up to People in 2015 that she has been self conscious about her weight since she was a child. “My first diet was in the first grade. Tuna fish and mustard with yogurt on the side,” she told the outlet. “Weight was a big thing for me to overcome.”
At about the time she decided to pursue comedy, Williams also decided to change her mindset when it came to diet and exercise. “When I reached 50, it was like an equator to my life. I lost 50 pounds in time for my birthday on my own,” she told The Cut in 2017. She realized how much her weight loss changed her mentality and physical abilities, and she decided her wellness kick was something that needed to stay.
Williams attributed a mixture of cardio and Pilates with healthy eating to her weight loss and new outlook on her health. “I go to the gym because it’s not about me losing weight at this point, it’s about me trying to fight heart disease,” she said in a video posted to her show’s YouTube account in 2015. “Slow and steady is the name of the game … If there is a poster child for plastic surgery and the jump-off to a new lifestyle, it would be me,” she added.
Wendy Williams had more life-changing moments in her 50s
Wendy Williams’ 50s started off with a bang, but unfortunately her mid 50s were marked by several life-changing struggles. In March 2019, Williams revealed on The Wendy Williams show that she was residing in a sober living house after living with a drug addiction since her early days as a radio DJ. “After I finish my appointments, seeing my brothers and sisters and breaking bread, I am driven by my 24-hour sober coach, back to a home that I live in here in the tri-state with a bunch of smelly boys who’ve become my family,” she said, per The Hollywood Reporter. She made the emotional revelation after speaking about her foundation, the Hunter Foundation, which is meant to guide those living with addiction.
The following month, Williams filed for divorce from husband of 22 years, Kevin Hunter, due to “irreconcilable differences,” per Today. After much speculation, she confirmed (via The New York Times) that part of those differences involved Hunter fathering a child with another woman.
Despite the turbulent times for the talk show host, she told USA Today in September 2020 that she has never been better ahead of The Wendy Williams Show‘s Season 12 premiere. “You go through things in life. I have no regrets about anything but I’m here, I’m standing,” she confirmed.
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