Williams in September 2018
Wendy Joan Williams
July 18, 1964
Asbury Park, New Jersey, U.S.
|Other names||Wendy Williams Hunter|
|Alma mater||Northeastern University|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
(m. 1994; div. 1995)
(m. 1997; div. 2020)
Wendy Williams Hunter (born Wendy Joan Williams; July 18, 1964) is an American television host, businesswoman, media personality and author. Since 2008, she has hosted the nationally syndicated television talk show The Wendy Williams Show.
Prior to television, Williams was a radio DJ and host and quickly became known in New York as a "shock jockette". She gained notoriety for her on-air spats with celebrities and was the subject of the 2006 VH1 reality TV series The Wendy Williams Experience which broadcast events surrounding her radio show. She was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2009.
She has written a New York Times best-selling autobiography and six other books, and has created product lines including a fashion line, a jewelry collection and a wig line. On her 50th birthday, the council of Asbury Park, New Jersey renamed the street on which she grew up Wendy Williams Way.
Williams was born on July 18, 1964 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. She is the second of three children born to Shirley and Thomas Williams. At age 5, she moved with her family to the Wayside section of Ocean Township, New Jersey. Williams graduated from Ocean Township High School, and from 1982 to 1986 she attended Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications and was a DJ for the college radio station, WRBB.
Williams began her career working for WVIS in the United States Virgin Islands. Less than a year later, she obtained an afternoon position at Washington, D.C.-based station WOL. Williams commuted between DC and Queens, New York, to work an overnight weekend shift at WQHT.
In 1989, Williams began at urban contemporary WRKS (now WEPN-FM) in New York City as a substitute disc jockey. WRKS hired her full-time for its morning show. A year later, Williams moved to an afternoon drive-time shift, eventually winning the Billboard Award for "Best On-Air Radio Personality" in 1993. In December 1994, Emmis Broadcasting purchased WRKS and switched Williams to the company's other New York property, hip-hop formatted WQHT ("Hot 97"), as WRKS was reformatted into an urban adult contemporary outlet. She was fired from Hot 97 in 1998.
Williams was hired by a Philadelphia urban station, WUSL ("Power 99FM"). Her husband, Kevin Hunter, became her agent. She was very open about her personal life on air, discussing her miscarriages, breast enhancement surgery, and former drug addiction. She helped the station move from 14th place in the ratings to 2nd.
In 2001, Williams returned to the New York airwaves when WBLS hired her full-time for a syndicated 2–6 p.m. time slot. Williams' friend, MC Spice of Boston, offered his voiceover services to the show, often adding short rap verses tailored specifically for Williams' show. The New York Times stated that her "show works best when its elements – confessional paired with snarkiness – are conflated," and cited a 2003 interview with Whitney Houston as an example. During the highly publicized interview that "went haywire" and included "a lot of bleeped language", Williams "asked [Houston], insistently, about her drug and spending habits".
By 2008, she was syndicated in Redondo Beach, California; Shreveport, Louisiana; Wilmington, Delaware; Toledo, Ohio; Columbia, South Carolina; Emporia, Virginia; Lake Charles, Louisiana; Tyler, Texas; and Alexandria, Louisiana, among other markets.
The Wendy Williams Show
In 2008, Debmar-Mercury offered Williams a six-week television trial of her own talk show. On July 14, 2008, Williams debuted her daytime talk show, The Wendy Williams Show, in four cities during the summer of 2008. During the tryout, The New York Times remarked that the show created a "breakthrough in daytime" by introducing the genre of the "backtalk show.".
After a successful run, Fox signed a deal with Debmar-Mercury to broadcast the show nationally on their stations beginning in July 2009. In addition, BET picked up cable rights to broadcast the show at night. In 2010, BET started airing the show internationally in 54 countries through BET International.
Williams has received multiple nominations at the Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host and the show itself was for Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment. The show attracts 2.4 million daily viewers on average, with Williams trading off daily with Ellen DeGeneres as the number one female host on daytime television.
The Wendy Williams Show has been renewed through the 2020–21 television season on the Fox Television Stations.The renewal will keep Wendy on air through its 13th season. During the November 2015 sweeps period, the talk show finished either No. 1 or 2 in the key demo of women 25-54 in 55% of the U.S. and 20 of the top-25 markets.
Williams had not missed a show until February 2018, when she took one week off; however, on February 21, 2018, Williams announced that her show would be on three weeks' hiatus due to her complications with Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism.
In January 2019, a statement from the Williams Hunter family revealed that Williams had been hospitalized due to complications from Graves' disease and that her return to the show would be delayed indefinitely as a result. Guest hosts such as Nick Cannon filled in for Wendy during her absence; she returned on March 4, 2019.
In early March 2020, the show discontinued its live audience for two tapings due to the coronavirus pandemic; Williams's staff filled in the seats. Shortly thereafter, production on the show was halted. The show reemerged as The Wendy Williams Show @ Home, broadcast through video chat from Williams's apartment, and continuing through May 15, when production was halted again due to a flare in Williams's Graves disease.
Other television appearances
Williams filled in for Jodi Applegate on WNYW's morning television show, Good Day New York (2007), and hosted a game show for GSN called Love Triangle (2011) for which she and her husband Kevin Hunter served as executive producers.
Williams played a judge on the Lifetime network show Drop Dead Diva (2011) and served as a guest judge on The Face (2013). She was also a contestant, paired with pro Tony Dovolani on season 12 of Dancing with the Stars (2011); she was eliminated second.
In February 2013, it was announced that Williams and her husband and manager, Kevin, were launching a reality television production company, Wendy Williams Productions. that will produce unscripted content, including reality television and game shows. Williams was an executive producer on the show Celebrities Undercover (2014).
Williams also executive produced the Lifetime biopic Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, which premiered on November 15, 2014. In September 2015, the documentary series Death By Gossip with Wendy Williams premiered on the Investigation Discovery channel, both hosted and produced by Williams.
In 2012, it was announced Williams would enter into a "production alliance" with producers Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones to create movies and television shows aimed at multicultural audiences. These projects will appear under the heading "Wendy Williams presents" and their first project will be VH1 adaptation of a Star Jones novel.
On Oct. 10, 2019, Williams announced at the top of her show that she had made a cameo, released the same day, in Todrick Hall's music video for his song "Dripeesha."
In 2013, Williams was cast to play the role of Matron "Mama" Morton on the Broadway musical Chicago. She began her tenure on July 2 and finished her seven-week run on August 11, 2013. Her preparations for the musical were documented in the TV Guide docuseries Wendy Williams: How You Doin', Broadway?!, which was produced by her own production company, Wendy Williams Productions.
Before Wendy turned 50, stand-up comedy was on her bucket list. In 2014, Lipshtick called Williams to participate in their first all-female-based comedy series at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Williams made her sold-out comedy debut on July 11, 2014. Williams' comedy tour was called "The Sit-down Comedy Tour." Williams returned to Lipshtick on October 31, 2014, and November 1, 2014, after she made a sold-out debut in July.
Williams hosted her "How You Laughin'" Comedy Series at NJPAC on November 15, 2014, featuring Luenell, Jonathan Martin, Pat Brown, Hadiyah Robinson, and Meme Simpson. In 2015, Williams announced a 12-city comedy tour called "The Wendy Williams Sit Down Tour: Too Real For Stand-Up."
In 2019, Williams hosted the "Wendy Williams & Friends: For the Record... Umm Hmmm!" U.S. comedy tour featuring performances from various comedians. The first date, scheduled for August 17, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey, was canceled the day before because of a “scheduling conflict,” according to the venue, but Page Six reported low ticket sales were to blame. More dates in Philadelphia, Ohio and Atlanta were ultimately canceled, with statements from the venues saying the tour was "sidelined by the headlines." The final remaining date in St. Petersburg, Florida, which was rescheduled from August 2, 2019, to September 21, 2019, was canceled September 20. The venue cited "unforeseen circumstances."
HSN clothing line
By partnering with the Home Shopping Network (HSN), Williams debuted a line of dresses, pants, sweaters and skirts fit for the everyday woman. Her HSN Clothing line debuted on March 28, 2015. Williams told viewers on her talk show that according to HSN, the debut was their most watched premiere since the onset of the program. The Wendy Williams line is sold exclusively at HSN.
Williams and her husband, Kevin Hunter, commissioned the China-based manufacturing firm Max Harvest International Holdings to make 12,140 pairs of shoes bearing the logo of her brand, Adorn. The owners of Max Harvest International Holdings were said to have gone into hiding after the owner of the shoe factory who made the shoes kidnapped one of their managers and held the man prisoner for two weeks before releasing him, and Williams' failure to pay was cited the reason, reported by the New York Daily News. The manager and his wife retained lawyer Staci Riordan of Los Angeles. Their representative says they've been in negotiations for several months in order to reach a settlement. Williams declined to comment on the matter.
Williams married to her first husband, Bert Girigorie, for five months in 1994. They separated after five months, and were officially divorced a year and a half later. In her autobiography Wendy's Got the Heat, Williams referred to him under the pseudonym "Robert Morris III"
On November 30, 1997, Williams married her second husband, Kevin Hunter. Their son, Kevin Hunter, Jr., was born in 2000. In April 2019, Williams filed for divorce after it was reported Hunter had fathered a child with another woman. The divorce was finalized in January 2020.
Health and substance abuse
Williams has been open on her show about her past with substance abuse, particularly with cocaine. In March 2019, Williams revealed on an episode that she had been living in a sober house for several months, with only her husband and son knowing about it prior to her revelation.
Williams has Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism, which caused her to miss episodes in 2018, 2019, and 2020; she has been hospitalized several times due to complications from the disease. In 2019, Williams also announced she had been diagnosed with lymphedema, a non-fatal condition that causes swelling of the lower extremities.
Williams sometimes has a pronounced appearance of her eyes, a side-effect of her hyperthyroidism and Graves' disease, which cause pressure behind the eye muscles. Additionally, Williams wears wigs because she has stated that her natural hair is thin due to these medical conditions. She often refers to herself as a "wiggy" and has names for her wigs like New Bitch or Rita Ora's Older Sister, changing length, texture, and color daily to match her on-air outfits and the changing seasons of the year. She has stated that she wears turbans around the house, and can at times be seen wearing a turban on-air, such as during "Wendy, What's Good: Turbans & More!", and during her Pre-Show and After Show segments, like "Turbanalicious".
Williams has had breast implants since 1994, and been open about having a liposuction procedure. Until 2018, Williams wore high heels on air very frequently; she had to discontinue due to her lymphedema condition and vertigo caused by her other two health conditions.
Williams has repeatedly come under fire for some of her controversial statements.
In 1995, Williams advertised false rumors that Tupac Shakur had been raped while imprisoned for sexually assaulting a woman in November 1993. Shakur was so jarred at the Williams comment that he recorded a diss track Why U Turn On Me?, which was released posthumously following the rapper's murder in September 1996.
In 2006, Wu Tang Clan performer Method Man had a personal and publicized conflict with Williams on The Breakdown, an Internet show on Onloq.com. Williams had talked on air about Method Man's wife's having cancer, which was something he wanted to keep private, her own family members had not yet known about the diagnosis. Williams had dug it up and made it public over the radio. Because of this leaked information, Method Man and his wife had "many problems." Williams also reported unfounded rumors that Method Man had been having an affair with his wife's doctor. Method Man first heard of this while in recording sessions in Los Angeles.
She said me and [the doctor] was f**king [sic]. What kind of s**t is that, man?," he said. "You don’t do that to nobody. You say the f**k you want to say about me, say nothing about my family, man".
In 2014, Williams and two others produced a biopic on the early 2000s R&B artist Aaliyah, entitled Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B. The biopic attracted much controversy as Aaliyah's family neither consented nor authorized the use of Aaliyah's image or her material for the biopic. The film also romanticized the hebephilic relationship and subsequent illegal marriage of the young singer and R. Kelly, who in 2019 was indicted of 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, obstruction of justice, and 18 federal counts, including child pornography, kidnapping and forced labor, as of July 12, 2019. Critical reception to Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B was predominantly negative. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times panned the film, criticizing it as "ham-handed" and "underwhelming" and writing "Condensing the singer's life into such a short space requires a cruel knife and, in this case, a wildly imprecise one. A good film doesn't show its seams. This one — based on Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, a biography by Christopher John Farley — is mostly seams. Much of the acting has dull edges, and the screenplay is aggravatingly stilted." The Wall Street Journal also criticized the film, commenting that the "overuse of the three and four-way split screen montages only enhanced the lack of material." Viewer reaction for the film was similarly extremely negative, and fans mocked the film on social media websites, using the hashtags #LifetimeBiopics and #LifetimeBeLike.
In January and February 2020, Williams was criticized several times over remarks made on her show. In January, while talking about actor Joaquin Phoenix, Williams used her finger to pull up a part of her lip to resemble a cleft palate (a condition which Phoenix has denied having), which many took to believe she was mocking him. Williams apologized on her show. In February, Williams was criticized again for making comments many regarded as homophobic while talking about the fictional holiday "Galentine's Day"; she again apologized, this time in an emotional video posted to her official social channels online. Shortly thereafter, while talking about the death of Amie Harwick, Williams made a joke referring to Harwick's ex-fiancé Drew Carey and his job on The Price Is Right, saying that show's catchphrase "Come on Down!!" in response to Harwick being thrown off of a balcony. In April 2020, Williams was also criticized after remarks she made saying that Yaya Mayweather, the daughter of Floyd Maywheather, should be arrested for at least eight years for a recent alleged stabbing because "she sent a woman to a hospital for no good reason".
Wendy Williams has been accused of transphobia. In one episode of her show, after stating that trans woman can never be assigned women, she told her audience, "Stop wearing our skirts and our heels!" After explicitly stating that to be a woman, one has to menstruate, she apologized for her remarks.
Williams is the author of books including:
- Wendy's Got the Heat (2003), coauthored with Karen Hunter Atria; 1st edition (August 5, 2003)
- The Wendy Williams Experience (2005)
- Ask Wendy: Straight-Up Advice for All the Drama in Your Life (2013) ISBN 9780062268389
- Drama Is Her Middle Name: The Ritz Harper Chronicles, Vol. 1 (2006), coauthored with Karen Hunter
- Is the Bitch Dead, Or What?: The Ritz Harper Chronicles, Book 2 (2007), coauthored with Karen Hunter
- Ritz Harper Goes to Hollywood! (Ritz Harper Chronicles) (2009), coauthored with Zondra Hughes
- Hold Me in Contempt: A Romance (2014) ISBN 978-0062268419
|2004||The Cookout||Reporter No. 2|
|2011||The Cookout 2||Wendy Williams|
|2012||Think Like a Man||Gail|
|2013||World War Z||Wendy Williams||Opening sequence|
|2014||Think Like a Man Too||Gail|
|2016||Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates||Wendy Williams|
|1992||Martin||Wendy Williams||Episode: "Radio Days"|
|1995||New York Undercover||WGHT DJ||Episode: "You Get No Respect"|
|2011||One Life to Live||Phyllis Rose||Episode: "1.10885"|
|Drop Dead Diva||Judge Mary Rudd||Episode: "Hit and Run"|
|2012||30 Rock||Wendy Williams||Episode: "My Whole Life is Thunder"|
|2013||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Episode: "Funny Valentine"|
|Belle's||Episode: "Runaway Bride"|
|The Neighbors||Shirley||Episode: "The One with Interspecies F-R-I-E-N-D-S"|
|2014||Santa Con||Pastor Ruth||Television film|
|2016||Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade||Condor Mom||Voice only; television special|
|2017||Nightcap||Wendy Williams||Episode: "Go-Fund Yourself"|
|Odd Mom Out||Episode: "Blood Bath"|
|2013||Chicago||Matron "Mama" Morton (Replacement)||The Ambassador Theatre|
Awards and nominations
- Radio Personality of the Year awards from Billboard, Black Radio Exclusive, and Radio & Records industry magazines
- National Radio Hall of Fame (named in 2009)
- Hosted the 2013 Soul Train Awards Red Carpet
- Hosted the 2014 Soul Train Awards in Las Vegas, which aired on November 30, 2014.
- Nominated for The 42nd & 43rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment and Outstanding Talk Show Host.
- Nominated for The 44th & 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show Host.
- Williams received the 2,677th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 17, 2019.
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... Williams, AS '86...
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- Prudom, Laura (January 19, 2016). "Wendy Williams Show Renewed Through Season 11". Variety. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
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- Andreeva, Nellie (March 13, 2020). "ABC's 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' Shuts Down Production Over Coronavirus, Joins CBS' 'Late Show', NBC's 'The Tonight Show' & 'Late Night', Syndicated 'Wendy Williams Show' – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
- "GSN Signs acclaimed television personality Wendy Williams to host new original series 'Love Triangle,' premiering April 18, 2011", GSN. Archived January 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Essex, Myeisha (February 5, 2013). "Wendy Williams Inks First Look Deal with Oxygen". EurWeb. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- "Watch Dancing with the Stars TV Show - ABC.com". ABC. Archived from the original on March 4, 2011.
- Essex, Myeisha (February 6, 2013). "Wendy Williams Launches Reality TV Production Company". Clutch Magazine. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- Marechal, AJ (February 5, 2013). "Talkshow maven pacts with manager and Debmar Mercury". Variety. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- "About". Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- Prudom, Laura (August 19, 2015). "Investigation Discovery Greenlights Series with Barbara Walters, Wendy Williams". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
- Manuel-Logan, Ruth (June 30, 2012). "Wendy Williams, Suzanne DePasse Team Up on Multi-Picture Venture". Blast Zone Online. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
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- "Wendy in Chicago on Broadway!". The Wendy Williams Show. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
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- Williams, Brennan (July 17, 2013). "Wendy Lands Another Network Show". The Huffington Post.
- "Wendy Williams Kicks Off 'Lipshtick – The Perfect Shade of Stand-Up' at The Venetian Las Vegas". VegasNews.com. July 14, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
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-  Archived November 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
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- "Wiggy Dilemma" – via www.youtube.com.
- "Wendy, What's Good: Turbans & More!" – via www.youtube.com.
- "After Show: Wig Backstory!" – via www.youtube.com.
- "After Show: Turbanalicious!" – via www.youtube.com.
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- "Wendy Williams Apologizes After Outrage over Mocking Joaquin Phoenix's Cleft Lip".
- "Wendy Williams Apologizes for Saying Gay Men Can't Wear Skirts & Heels". February 14, 2020.
- "Wendy Williams Slammed over 'Come on Down' Quip Made About Death of Celeb Sex Therapist Amie Harwick". February 18, 2020.
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- [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0xKIHoLcT4 wendy williams' COMPLICATED history with the lgbtq+ community
- Williams, Wendy, & Karen Hunter (2003). Wendy's Got the Heat. Atria. ISBN 0743470214.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Williams, Wendy (September 6, 2005). The Wendy Williams Experience. Dutton Adult. ISBN 0525948376.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Williams, Wendy, & Karen Hunter (June 20, 2006). Drama is Her Middle Name: The Ritz Harper Chronicles. 1. Harlen Moon. ISBN 0739470043.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Williams, Wendy, & Karen Hunter (February 13, 2007). Is the Bitch Dead, Or What?: The Ritz Harper Chronicles Book 2. Broadway. ISBN 978-0767924870.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Williams, Wendy, & Zondra Hughes (2009). Ritz Harper Goes to Hollywood! (Ritz Harper Chronicles) (BCE ed.). Pocket Books. ISBN 978-1615231300.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- "Wendy Williams-The Queen of All Media". AALBC.com. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
-  Archived February 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- "He Got Soul: Dave Koz". BET. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- Taibi, Catherine (October 6, 2014). "Wendy Williams To Host 2014 Soul Train Awards". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- Furuta, Leslie (March 31, 2015). "The National Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences Announces The 42nd Annual Daytime Emmy®award Nominations" (Press release). New York: The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- "Tiny Harris Robbed!" – via www.youtube.com.
- "Wendy Williams Receives Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame". Vibe. October 8, 2019.
- Daniels, Karu F. "Wendy Williams will receive star on Hollywood Walk of Fame next week". nydailynews.com.
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