Wendy Joan Williams Hunter (born Wendy Joan Williams; July 18, 1964) is an American media personality, actress, comedian, author, and a daytime talk show host. She hosts the nationally syndicated television talk show, The Wendy Williams Show.
Prior to television, Williams was a "shock jockette" on several radio shows. Williams has gained notoriety for her on-air spats with celebrities. She was the subject of the 2006 VH1 reality TV series The Wendy Williams Experience, which broadcast events surrounding her radio show.
She has written an autobiography and several other books, and has created two product lines: an apparel line with QVC called Adorn by Wendy Williams and a wig line named Wendy Williams Hair World. On July 18, 2014, Williams' 50th birthday, she was honored by the council of Asbury Park with the renaming of a street to Wendy Williams Way.
Early and personal life
Williams was born on July 18, 1964, in Ocean Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey, a suburb of Asbury Park. She is the second of three children born to parents Thomas and Shirley Williams, She grew up in the Wayside section of Ocean Township. Williams graduated from Ocean Township High School, and from 1982 to 1986, she attended Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where she graduated with a B.A. in communications and was a DJ for the college radio station WRBB.
In her biography, Wendy's Got the Heat, she uses the pseudonym Robert Morris III to refer to her first husband and describes him as a salesperson. Williams and her first husband have since divorced. Wendy Williams with her second husband, Kevin Hunter, Sr., gave birth to their son, Kevin Hunter, Jr. on August 18, 2000.
Williams began her career working for WVIS in the United States Virgin Islands. 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, and 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.
In 2008, Nicole Spence, talent booker for The Wendy Williams Experience, filed papers with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suing Williams. Spence claimed Williams' husband, Kevin Hunter, demanded sex from Spence on many occasions and created a hostile work environment by threatening and assaulting his wife on company premises. On June 11, 2008, Spence filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit against Williams, Hunter, and Inner City Broadcasting Corporation in federal court in Manhattan. Both Williams and Hunter deny the charges.
The Wendy Williams Show
On July 14, 2008, Williams debuted her daytime talk show, The Wendy Williams Show, a 6-week test run on Fox owned-and-operated stations in New York City, Dallas, Detroit, and Los Angeles, during the summer of 2008. Fox Television Stations signed a deal with syndication company Debmar-Mercury at the end of the test to broadcast the show on its station group beginning in July 2009.
On April 11, 2013, Williams announced on The Wendy Williams Show that she was becoming an ordained minister with the Universal One Church. She donated items from her talk show, including a wig, a script, and "bedazzled pink microphone" to the Smithsonian Institution's daytime television collection in 2014.
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.
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, documentary series entitled 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.
- 2004 The Cookout as Reporter No. 2
- 2011 The Cookout 2 as herself
- 2012 Think Like a Man
- 2014 Think Like a Man Too
- 2014 The Santa Con
- 2016 Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
- 1995 New York Undercover as New York/WQHT DJ (One episode: "You Get No Respect")
- 2010 & 2011 The A-list: New York as Reunion Host
- 2011 One Life to Live as Phyllis Rose (Four episodes)
- 2011 Drop Dead Diva as Judge Mary Rudd (One episode: "Hit and Run")
- 2011 Mob Wives as Reunion Host (One episode: "Reunion")
- 2012 30 Rock as herself
- 2012 Sesame Street as herself (Episode: "Afraid of the Bark")
- 2013 Belle's (One Episode: "Runaway Bride")
- 2013 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Herself (One episode: "Funny Valentine")
- 2013 The Neighbors as Shirley (One episode: "The One With Interspecies F-R-I-E-N-D-S")
- 2013, 2014, 2015 R&B Divas: Los Angeles as Reunion Host
- 2014 R&B Divas: Atlanta as Reunion Host live
- 2016 Wendy's Style Squad as Host
In 2013, Williams announced she was going to play the role of Matron "Mama" Morton on the Broadway musical Chicago. Williams officially began her tenure on July 2 and finished her 7-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.
Williams is a seven-time New York Times best-seller and has published several books, including:
- Wendy's Got the Heat (2003), coauthored with Karen Hunter Atria; 1 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
Adorn by Wendy Williams
Williams and her husband, Kevin Hunter, commissioned the Chinese-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 was previously a spokesperson for Georges Veselle champagne.
Wendy Williams' 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.The household name media mogul debuted her HSN Clothing line on March 28, 2015. The debut was a "sell-out success" and Williams even 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.
- "Radio Personality of the Year" awards from Billboard, Black Radio Exclusive, and Radio & Records industry magazines
- 2009: named to the National Radio Hall of Fame
- 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 Annual Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment and Outstanding Talk Show Host.
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.