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Kelly Ripa has been a fixture on daytime television ever since she joined the seat next to Regis Philbin in 2001 on Live. She’s had over two decades to prove herself as a formidable presence on the morning talk show circuit, but behind the scenes, her situation was difficult in the early years.
It’s no secret that ABC executives kept her in the dark about former co-host Michael Strahan’s exit to Good Morning America, but the disrespect happened long before he was ever on the show. The 52-year-old TV personality claimed to Variety that her first contract didn’t include “paid vacation time or maternity leave or a wardrobe budget.” And forget about bringing in a glam squad, Ripa documented in her memoir, Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories, that she was “commanded” to use Philbin’s makeup and hair people. It doesn’t sound like a fun environment at all.
“It was very tough,” Ripa explained. “Had I known how difficult it would have been, I don’t know that I would have gone for it. I just think my ignorance in that situation wound up being my blessing and my superpower. I did not have an easy time.” She even had to fight for office space and ABC reportedly mustered up a janitor’s closet to use in her fourth season even though there was plenty of space available. What’s even stranger is that she was forced to use the studio audience bathroom during her pregnancy even though Philbin enjoyed his own private restroom.
“Picture this,” she shockingly revealed. “We have a studio audience — like 250 people! — and I have to queue up. Particularly when I was pregnant, it was extraordinarily exhausting to have to wait in line. I have to host the show, and I’m still waiting in line to use the bathroom.” The sexism Ripa encountered at the hands of the network has faded over time as she’s finally been given the perks that she deserved a long time ago (although a private bathroom really is a right). She’s done playing “second fiddle” and Ripa doesn’t blame any of her former male co-hosts for not speaking up for her. “The network had a duty and an obligation to keep all things equal,” she summed up.
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