Worked With:

Jami Gertz

Adam Brody

Seth Meyers

Tina Fey

Mariska Hargitay

Brooke Elliott

Nigel Barker

Conan O'Brien

Michael Ealy

Wendy Williams Biography

Home > Actresses > W > Williams, Wendy > Biography

Birth Name: Wendy Williams
Born: 07/18/1964
Birth Place: Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA

Born Wendy Joan Williams on July 18, 1964 in Asbury Park, NJ, she was the second of three children from parents, Thomas and Shirley Williams. She was, from the outset, a big personality, with a body to match; by the time she was in the sixth grade, Williams was 5' 7" and wore size 11 shoes. Scholastics were not her forte, but she excelled at activities outside of the classroom, including music and swimming. In 1982, she followed her older sister, Wanda, to Boston, MA to attend college at Northeastern University. There, she discovered radio, which provided the perfect format for her gift of gab and love for urban music as a DJ for the college's student station, WRBB. Her passion for the medium was so all-encompassing that in her free time, Williams would travel to New York City and spend the day in Penn Station, studying the city's DJs by dialing from station to station on a portable radio.

Her ascent into broadcasting was a rocky one, fraught with clashes with management and talent that would become a hallmark of her subsequent career. Her first job in radio was at a station in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, before heading to New York City for a short-lived stint that ended when she refused to stay with the station's formatted script. A job in Philadelphia, PA preceded a run as a fill-in DJ at New York's 98.7 KISS-FM. There, she began to develop her distinct radio persona: a brash, no-holds-barred gossip queen who shared the intimate details of her own life, as well as those of popular members of the African-American entertainment community. The practice made her immensely popular with listeners, who helped Williams to earn the 1993 Billboard Award for Best On-Air Radio Personality in 1993. The following year, Emmis Broadcasting purchased KISS-FM and brought Williams to the controversial 97.1 WHQT, or "Hot 97." There, she took over as the evening DJ, generating high ratings. However, her tenure was short-lived; Williams was fired after a confrontation with the previous nighttime DJ, Angie Martinez, though Williams later suggested that pressure from hip-hop artist and producer Sean "P. Diddy" Combs led to her termination.

Declaring that her New York audience had abandoned her, Williams retreated to WUSL in Philadelphia. In 2001, she returned to New York to work for WBLS, the former rival station to KISS-FM. There, she began her ascension to national popularity as the host of "The Wendy Williams Experience," a syndicated afternoon program that focused on her abrasive, probing style of celebrity interview. Dubbing herself "Queen of All Media" in reference to Howard Stern's self-appointed title, she pulled no punches in grilling figures like Whitney Houston, Blu Cantrell and Ciara while dispensing tough love advice to callers and dishing on her own issues, including battles with drugs and her numerous plastic surgeries. Williams soon garnered an audience of 12 million listeners, but not everyone warmed to her style. In 2003, she waged an ugly war of words with Houston over the singer's alleged drug use, and rappers and entertainers like Jay-Z, Will Smith and 50 Cent began singling her out for derision in their songs. Despite media criticism for her subject matter, Williams became a major entertainment figure, with two best-selling autobiographies and a VH1 series, "The Wendy Williams Experience" (2006-07) among her growing list of accomplishments.

In 2008, her daytime talk show, "The Wendy Williams Show," was launched as a sneak preview in six major national markets. The response to the show, which mixed her own outsized personality with celebrity guests, audience advice and gossip, was overwhelmingly positive, prompting Fox and later BET to pick up the show for broadcasting. The popularity of her TV show spurred Williams to announce her retirement from radio to focus on the talk show. Shortly thereafter, she was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. As with her radio program, Williams' TV show was not for all viewers. Her gossip could be outrageous and invasive, and her own personality - which included frank discussion of her sex life, past proclivities and issues - could be equally off-putting and attractive. Her style drew particularly pungent fire from Joel McHale, host of "The Soup" (E!, 2004- ), who frequently featured her more eyebrow-raising statements on his program. The coverage later inspired Williams to strike up a good-natured rivalry/friendship with McHale and his show. In 2011, Williams announced that she would participate as a contestant on the 12th season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ). Her talk show would go on hiatus during that period to allow her to compete for the reality show's mirrored ball trophy.