How’s Wendy Williams doin’ after ‘Dancing With the Stars’?
BY JONATHAN LANDRUM JR. April 7, 2011 6:06PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
When Wendy Williams started rehearsals for ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” her dance partner, Tony Dovolani, expected the talk-show personality to translate her animated bravado onto the dance floor.
But Dovolani didn’t get what he envisioned from Williams, known for her infectious catchphrase, “How you doin’?” He was surprised to see the typically bold Williams nervous about her inept dancing ability during practice, feeling insecure about her voluptuous frame while standing nearly six feet tall.
“I’m not a dancer. I have two left feet and a hoof,” says Williams, bursting into laughter recently while on the set of Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva,” where she was filming an episode in which she plays a judge. On the premiere of “DWTS,” Williams finished near the bottom of the scoreboard, scoring 14 out of 30 points.
Dovolani believed that the more Williams practiced, it would help her overcome her self-esteem issues on the dance floor.
“She was always the tall kid, always felt too big to dance,” says Dovolani, who is in his 11th season on “DWTS.” “With her being tall, I see that as her strength. It’s almost like she’s the Wonder Woman. I don’t want to hide her height. I want her to celebrate it.”
Strides had been made, according to Williams. The 46-year-old says the tough workout regimen — training about five hours a day — has left her in the best shape of her life. But she’ll have to continue the workouts on her own now, since earlier this week she was the second celebrity eliminated from the competition.
No matter for Williams, though. The extra exposure on the hit dance show should boost her celebrity and increase appeal of her weekday syndicated program, “The Wendy Williams Show.”
The success of her talk show, which was renewed for its third season, has generated other opportunities for Williams. Along with “Dancing With the Stars” and “Drop Dead Diva,” she’ll appear on the soap opera “One Life to Live” and host a new dating show, “Love Triangle,” on the Game Show Network next month.
Everything is starting to take form for Williams, who said she wanted to expand beyond her burgeoning talk show this year. She says it’s been a tough road to her dynamic rise but a course she doesn’t regret.
“It had to be this hard,” she says. “As a woman, you always have the option of laying flat on your back and getting things easier. But there’s always going to be a girl like me that’ll laugh at women like that.”
Williams spent more than 20 years as a radio DJ, building an explosive reputation for her audacious personality, someone who talked about celebrities and dared to ask them about their dirty laundry — consequences be damned. That led to high ratings, but also one firing and notorious clashes with celebrities (her combative interview with a profanity-spewing Whitney Houston in 2003 may be her most famous). Still, stars came to her to talk, and she had grudging respect within the industry.
Through all the drama, her radio show, “The Wendy Williams Experience,” garnered 12 million listeners and she eventually was offered a chance to host her own television show.
For Williams, she knew she had to trade in her brash shock-jock shtick to show a more sensitive side — while having the same backbone. It was a tough transition for Williams to differentiate her radio and TV persona, until she left radio in 2009.
In the past few years, Williams said she’s been able to mature as a host through her lifestyle of being a mother to her 10-year-old son and as a wife. She also says having less talk time on television than she had as a radio DJ has contributed to her reformed image.
“With growth and age, there comes maturity and how you conduct yourself,” Williams says.