Wendy Williams walks up a few steps into the studio audience and basks, gratitude and awe vibrating off her.
Between the stilettos and the wig, she’s about 6 1/2 feet tall. Her eyes glisten but not enough to require redoing the false eyelashes and pancake makeup. Cheers wash over her, and she grasps the moment, palpably fearful it will never come again.
But her eponymous show, airing weekdays on BET and in syndication throughout the country, continues to grow. “How you doin’?” and “whoop whoop” have become her signature.
“Very rarely in life do we get what we want and time to enjoy it,” Williams says to Zap2it. “This is it. I’m enjoying it.”
It’s way more; she’s relishing it.
Williams, who talks often of turning 50 in July, has a keen awareness of what it takes to get here. When she yells backstage, she laughs and says she’s being so ghetto, but Williams did not claw her way out of the hood.
She grew up middle class, “one of four blacks” in Ocean Township, N.J., where her parents were teachers; her dad an English professor at Monmouth University and her mom a special ed teacher.
After considering typical careers for girls at the time – teacher, nurse – she settled on radio announcer. It wasn’t until high school, when she didn’t get asked to dances, that she started listening to music beyond Top 40.
After she graduated from Northeastern, working in radio gave Williams the outlet to reach out and build an audience.
She had an earlier TV stint — “a sloppy little show” she calls it — but Williams learned about promotion and being true to herself.
Talk shows are the TV equivalent of restaurants; everyone thinks because she can talk or cook she can do this professionally. The proof is in how many succeed. Why has “The Wendy Williams Show” made it to its fifth season?
Williams manages to not seem boastful when she says, “It is because of me. It is surreal.”
It’s a fair bet that as nice as she is in an interview, Williams would prefer to not do this. She answers every question, save who her worst guest was. [A ‘white actress’ is as much as she reveals.]
Despite giving genuine answers to audience members’ questions during the show’s “Ask Wendy” segment and gossiping during “Hot Topics” as if it’s over martinis with friends, Williams is private.
She’s involved in her hometown but doesn’t want the town made public. Williams talks about a brief, early marriage; how she and her husband, Kevin, together 20 years, have a newly minted teenager. She smiles when mentioning her son.
Williams has a wig business, was in Broadway’s “Chicago” last summer and is working on her seventh book.
“I have a writing partner,” she says. “I will not lie. That whole superwoman thing is so dead. She and I collaborate.”
She relaxes on the sofa in an office that practically screams “Jersey girl!” A painting of Miss Piggy flashing one breast, a sequined Chanel robe, a giant, orange Buddha head and a glass filled with her used chewing gum make up the decor. Williams plans to take the gum when the show ends its run, but that will be a while. Her contract is through 2018.
“I am the most fortunate girl in the world,” she says.
“I luxuriate in having this show,” Williams says, beaming. “I get the best shoes, the best dresses. If it’s cold out, they buy me a coat. My goal is to stay on this wobbly course called daytime TV. I can’t ask for anything more.”