It is safe to say that I have been obsessed with Wendy Williams since her aptly named talk show debuted in 2008. I would record her show in middle and high school, and now that I'm a broke college kid without a DVR, I catch up with her before I go to sleep on Youtube. You may think I'm strange for being so into a daytime talk show, but oh, it is just so much more. Wendy Williams is a quick-witted and sassy say-it-like-you-mean-it kind of host.
She spends almost half of her show spilling the daily celebrity tea during her 'Hot Topics' segment and the other half grilling her guests about anything and everything-- including things that just may be off-limits to ask. Wendy Williams majored in Communications and Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, and I'm not kidding when I tell you that she is the reason that I'm doing the same damn thing at UMass. This woman is my idol, and this past Thursday, I was lucky enough to go to her show.
My boyfriend (bless his soul) applied for two Wendy tickets about a month and a half ago for my birthday. Keep in mind that his show of choice is ESPN and he had only ever seen a few clips of hers that I made him sit through. Once we were accepted (he had to fill out a questionnaire and send in photos of us-- kind of strange I thought, but whatever, it's Wendy), he made a hotel accommodation down the street from her studio in New York City, and we hit the road the following week.
The hotel itself was a palace. It truly was a butt-kicking birthday present all on its own. We were in the midst of our check-in process when a short, brunette woman in her thirties started arguing with the concierge next to ours. "I paid $600 for this room, I should be getting the Penthouse Suite, not the Premium!" she complained, After about 10 minutes of her trying to weasel her way into the Penthouse, the concierge gave in and gave her the room. My boyfriend and I were about to head up to our room when the same concierge approached us and asked us if we were interested in the Premium Suite. "Trust me, it has a really nice view," he said to us. We grabbed the keys and hurried up to the upgrade of a lifetime: a corner suite on the 38th floor of the building, equipped with two full-sized bathrooms, a kitchen/dining area, and a view of the New York skyline that I'll probably never experience again. I'm not kidding; I could have thrown a stone out my window and hit the gleaming Empire State Building if I really wanted to. And did I mention the two bathrooms?
OK, sorry for that tangent. Back to Wendy.
We bid adieu to the glorious suite at 7 a.m., grabbed two New York street bagels, and waited outside the studio until 8 a.m. We were let into the studio's basement, (after the bodyguards herded us like cattle) sat in a cold, minimally-decorated cement room and filled out an 'Ask Wendy' questionnaire. During this segment, audience members are chosen by producers to ask Wendy a question and then receive her (often harsh) advice, and believe you me I started writing the juiciest questions I could think of just so I could meet this woman. And you'll probably believe that my jaw almost dropped to the ground when I heard the producers call my boyfriend's name instead of mine. And he refused the 'Ask Wendy' opportunity, which is a sin.
It was almost time to enter the studio when I caught a glimpse of one of the producers-- a small, peppy woman with a huge smile, walk towards me and say my name. I thought I was dreaming. "You're Afton, right?" she said. I must have responded with the fastest "yes" that has ever escaped my mouth. "Come with me." She brought me into a back hallway and explained to me that I had been chosen to play a game called 'Celebrity' with Wendy Williams. I could have fainted right then and there. We practiced the game and I had to rehearse my best 'How you doin'' (Wendy's catch phrase) over and over again, and then she brought me back to my seat and confirmed with me that I'd be on the show.
We were finally let into the (freezing cold) studio around 9:30, and although the studio itself was one-tenth of the size that I thought it was going to be, it was a freakin' party. Wendy's hype man, DJ Boof, had the whole studio dancing harder than a Thursday night at Monkey Bar (for all you UMass youngin's out there). There was no chill time in between segments, only dancing, high-fiving, and hugging randoms, per DJ Boof's orders. I had to miss the initial dancing segment because I was casually being mic'ed by the executive producers backstage and once again rehearsing my 'How you doin's' for all of the Wendy big wigs. It was almost time for little ol' Afton's television debut.
The show itself was fantastic. Wendy was even more regal in person than she appears on TV. And she did not miss a beat the entire show. She had two guests, Keyshia something-rather, and the Food Network's Sandra Lee, and although I could not have been less interested in either of the guests prior to the show, I loved every minute of both of the segments. But I could barely focus; I was consumed by the reality of actually meeting my idol in the minutes to come. It is safe to say that my palms had never been sweatier (gross, I know).
Sandra Lee's segment had just wrapped up when I see the same peppy producer walking towards me. "Is it time?" I wondered as my heart skipped a beat.
"Unfortunately, both segments ran long and your segment has been cut. We'll un-mic you once the show wraps. You would have been awesome, though, I know it!" she said before skipping her perky skip away. Although obviously bummed, I was surprisingly more relieved than upset. I had been silently freaking out the entire show, and although I was so excited to be a part of the show that I watch so religiously, I was seriously flipping my shit over whether or not I would stumble my lines or forget how to play the game. I did get to shake Wendy's hand though, twice(!), and my boyfriend later told me that I held onto it and whispered "Thank you so much," as my eyes tried to lock with hers. Creepy, right? Well, whatever, I couldn't help it. I kind of-sort of met the one woman whom I have based my entire career around, and I could not have been more grateful for that.
All in all, the trip was really worth it. I got to sample a little taste of how live TV is pulled off, and I danced my butt off as well. Even my boyfriend enjoyed it...or so he says. Anyway, if you're an avid Wendy watcher like myself, get a ticket. They're free. And if you don't watch Wendy but are into all things celebrity and entertainment news, tune into Fox at 10 a.m., Monday through Friday. I'm sorry Ellen, but Wendy is the true Queen of daytime television. At least now that Oprah's gone...but that's a whole other obsession that I'll explain another time.
Wendy and me. How you doin'?