For other people named Wendy Williams, see Wendy Williams (disambiguation).
Wendy Joan Williams-Hunter (born Wendy Joan Williams; July 18, 1964) is an American television host, actress, author, fashion designer, and former radio personality. She has hosted the nationally syndicated television talk show The Wendy Williams Show since 2008.
Prior to television, Williams was a radio DJ and host and quickly became known in New York as a "shock jockette". She gained notoriety for her on-air spats with celebrities and was the subject of the 2006 VH1 reality TV series The Wendy Williams Experience which broadcast events surrounding her radio show. She was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2009.
She has written a New York Times best-selling autobiography and six other books, and has created various product lines including a fashion line, a jewelry collection and a wig line. On her 50th birthday, the council of Asbury Park renamed the street on which she grew up to Wendy Williams Way.
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.
Williams began her career working for WVIS in the United States Virgin Islands. Less than a year later, she obtained an afternoon position at Washington, D.C.-based station WOL. Williams commuted between DC and Queens, New York, to work an overnight weekend shift at WQHT.
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. She helped the station move from 14th place in the ratings to 2nd.
Williams has stated that Bill Cosby attempted to get her fired in 1991 and 1992. She also believes that Cosby is guilty of sexual assault.
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.
Williams left her radio show in 2009 to focus on her television program and spend more time with her family. She was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
The Wendy Williams Show
In 2008, Debmar-Mercury offered Williams a six-week television trial of her own talk show. On July 14, 2008, Williams debuted her daytime talk show, The Wendy Williams Show, in four cities during the summer of 2008. During the tryout, The New York Times snarkily remarked that the show created a "breakthrough in daytime" by introducing the genre of the "backtalk show.".
After a successful run, Fox signed a deal with Debmar-Mercury to broadcast the show nationally on their stations beginning in July 2009. In addition, BET picked up cable rights to broadcast the show at night. In 2010, BET started airing the show internationally in 54 countries through BET International.
Williams has received multiple nominations at the Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host and the show itself was for Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment. The show attracts 2.4 million daily viewers on average, with Williams trading off daily with Ellen DeGeneres as the number one female host on daytime television.
“The Wendy Williams Show” has been renewed through the 2019-20 television season on the Fox Television Stations.The renewal will keep “Wendy” on air through its 11th season. During the November 2015 sweeps period, the talk show finished either No. 1 or 2 in the key demo of women 25-54 in 55% of the U.S. and 20 of the top-25 markets.
Williams had not missed a show until February 2018, when she took one week off; however, on February 21, 2018, Williams announced that her show would be on three weeks' hiatus due to her complications with Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism.
Other television appearances
Williams has made appearances in the television series Martin (1992) and in the soap opera One Life to Live (2011).
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.
Williams played a judge on the Lifetime network show Drop Dead Diva (2011) and served as a guest judge on The Face (2013). She was also a contestant, paired with pro Tony Dovolani on season 12 of Dancing with the Stars (2011); she was eliminated second.
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 biopicAaliyah: The Princess of R&B, which premiered on November 15, 2014. In September 2015, the documentary series Death By Gossip with Wendy Williams premiered on the Investigation Discovery channel, both hosted and produced by Williams.
Williams appeared in the film adaptation of Steve Harvey's book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, titled Think Like a Man (2012) and its sequel, Think Like a Man Too (2014).
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.
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.
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."
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.
Williams sells a line of jewelry products on the home shopping network, QVC, called "Adorn by Wendy Williams".
Williams and her husband, Kevin Hunter, commissioned the China-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. She posed for PETA's "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" advert campaign in 2012.
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. On November 30, 1997, Williams married her second husband Kevin Hunter. Williams gave birth to their son, Kevin Hunter Jr., on August 18, 2000. Wendy is a Christian and has stated that she prays with her husband before every show.
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.
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; 1st 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
Awards and nominations
- 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 & 43rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment and Outstanding Talk Show Host.
- ^ abc"Wendy Williams Biography". biography.com. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- ^ abcde"How New York's Shock Jockette Got Supersized", New York, October 16, 2005, Accessed September 18, 2006
- ^Neglia, Ashley V. "Mixing Media", New Jersey Monthly, June 9, 2008, Accessed July 22, 2008
- ^ abcLola Ogunnaike (October 3, 2003). Drama Queen. Vibe Media Group. pp. 160–. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- ^"Every College Grad Should Hear Wendy Williams' Story About Struggling To Make It Big". Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- ^"Wendy Williams Reveals Bill Cosby Tried to Get Her Fired... TWICE". EURweb. July 29, 2017. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
- ^Drake, Monica (July 13, 2008). "TELEVISION; A Radio Shock Jock Who's Ready for TV". The New York Times. p. 17. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
- ^"Omarosa: Wendy Williams a 'Fake and a Phony'". Fox News Channel. July 23, 2008. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
- ^Alessandra Stanley (July 22, 2008). "Talk Show Is Less Talk, More Alpha-Female Action". The New York Times. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
- ^ abc"National Radio Hall of Fame: Wendy Williams, Talkshow Host".
- ^Stanley, Alessandra (July 22, 2008). "Talk Show Is Less Talk, More Alpha-Female Action". The New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- ^"Wendy Williams Nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award! | The Wendy Williams Show". Wendyshow.com. April 1, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
- ^Rovzar, Chris (March 4, 2015). "How Wendy Williams Became Daytime Talk's Unlikely Survivor". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on July 31, 2016. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
- ^Laura Prudom (January 19, 2016). "Wendy Williams Show Renewed Through Season 11". Variety. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
- ^Wendy Williams (2018-02-21), A Message from Wendy, retrieved 2018-02-21
- ^Archived January 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- ^ abEssex, Myeisha (February 5, 2013). "Wendy Williams Inks First Look Deal with Oxygen". EurWeb. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- ^Archived March 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- ^Essex, Myeisha (February 6, 2013). "Wendy Williams Launches Reality TV Production Company". Clutch Magazine. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- ^Marechal, AJ (February 5, 2013). "Talkshow maven pacts with manager and Debmar Mercury". Variety. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- ^"About". Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- ^Prudom, Laura (August 19, 2015). "Investigation Discovery Greenlights Series with Barbara Walters, Wendy Williams". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
- ^ abManuel-Logan, Ruth (June 30, 2012). "Wendy Williams, Suzanne DePasse Team Up on Multi-Picture Venture". Blast Zone Online. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- ^ abBock, Alex (June 28, 2012). "Wendy Williams Aligns With de Passe Jones Entertainment for Scripted Ventures". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- ^"Wendy in Chicago on Broadway!". The Wendy Williams Show. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- ^Andrew Gans (April 15, 2013). "Wendy Williams Will Join Cast of Broadway's Chicago This Summer". Playbill. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- ^Marc Snetiker (July 2, 2013). "Talk Show Queen Wendy Williams Brings Sass and Class to Her Big Broadway Bow in Chicago". Broadway.com. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- ^Jethro Nededog (July 17, 2013). "Wendy Williams Reality Series, John Rich Variety Show Coming to TV Guide Network". TheWrap. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- ^Williams, Brennan (July 17, 2013). "Wendy Lands Another Network Show". The Huffington Post.
- ^"Wendy Williams Kicks Off 'Lipshtick – The Perfect Shade of Stand-Up' at The Venetian Las Vegas". VegasNews.com. July 14, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- ^"Wendy Williams Returns to LA in LIPSHTICK – THE PERFECT SHADE OF STAND UP on 10/31011/1". BWW Comedy. August 19, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
- ^Archived November 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
- ^"The Wendy Williams "Sit Down Tour...Too Real For Stand Up". LiveNation.com. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
- ^"Wendy Williams On What Inspired Her HSN Clothing Line". MadameNoire.com. April 2, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
- ^ ab"Wendy Williams Runs Out on a $419K China Shoe Bill!". EurWeb. November 29, 2012. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
- ^Ross, Barbara (November 26, 2012). "Wendy Williams' failure to pay $400K reason for kidnapping". Daily News. New York. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
- ^Stapleton, Susan. "Wendy Williams Talks Buffets, Fans and Nightlife in Vegas – Eater Vegas". Vegas.eater.com. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
- ^"Media 'Queen' Wendy Williams Strips for PETA," New York Post, November 15, 2012.
- ^Williams, Wendy; Karen Hunter (2004). Wendy's Got the Heat. Simon and Schuster. p. 105. ISBN 9780743470223. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
- ^"How New York's Shock Jockette Got Supersized". New York. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
- ^ ab"Court Papers: DJ Wendy Williams' Husband Beat Her, Propositioned Aide for Sex", Fox News Channel, March 25, 2008, Accessed July 22, 2008
- ^Parham, Marti (July 21, 2008). "Wendy Williams: Unapologetic Radio Host Gets Her Shot At Network TV". Jet. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- ^"N.Y. radio host Wendy Williams sued for harassment". USA Today. June 12, 2008. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- ^"Buzz Briefs: Jay-Z, R. Kelly", CBS News, June 12, 2008
- ^Wendy Williams & Karen Hunter (2003). Wendy's Got the Heat. Atria. ISBN 0743470214.
- ^Wendy Williams (September 6, 2005). The Wendy Williams Experience (1 ed.). Dutton Adult. ISBN 0525948376.
- ^Wendy Williams & Karen Hunter (June 20, 2006). Drama is Her Middle Name: The Ritz Harper Chronicles. 1 (First ed.). Harlen Moon. ISBN 0739470043.
- ^Wendy Williams & Karen Hunter (February 13, 2007). Is the Bitch Dead, Or What?: The Ritz Harper Chronicles Book 2. Broadway. ISBN 0767924878.
- ^Wendy Williams & Zondra Hughes (2009). Ritz Harper Goes to Hollywood! (Ritz Harper Chronicles) (BCE ed.). Pocket books. ISBN 1615231307.
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This section includes eighty-six short original essays commissioned for the inaugural issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. Written by emerging academics, community-based writers, and senior scholars, each essay in this special issue, “Postposttranssexual: Key Concepts for a Twenty-First-Century Transgender Studies,” revolves around a particular keyword or concept. Some contributions focus on a concept central to transgender studies; others describe a term of art from another discipline or interdisciplinary area and show how it might relate to transgender studies. While far from providing a complete picture of the field, these keywords begin to elucidate a conceptual vocabulary for transgender studies. Some of the submissions offer a deep and resilient resistance to the entire project of mapping the field terminologically; some reveal yet-unrealized critical potentials for the field; some take existing terms from canonical thinkers and develop the significance for transgender studies; some offer overviews of well-known methodologies and demonstrate their applicability within transgender studies; some suggest how transgender issues play out in various fields; and some map the productive tensions between trans studies and other interdisciplines.
The word transgender entered widespread use as an umbrella term for describing a range of gender-variant identities and communities within the United States in the early 1990s.1 At that time, Virginia Prince (1913–2009), a self-identified heterosexual cross-dresser from Los Angeles who later started living socially as a woman full time and who played an indisputably important role in the formation of gender-variant communities, organizations, and identities within the United States in the mid-twentieth century, was often credited with coining the term (Feinberg 1996). Her role in this regard has been overstated, and the history of the word itself is far more complex than has been previously understood.
Prince did describe herself with such terms as transgenderal as early as 1969 and transgenderist as early as 1978, as a means to name the specific behavior of living full time in a chosen social gender role different from that typically associated with birth-assigned sex, without undergoing genital sex-reassignment surgery (see Ekins and King 2006). In 1975, FI News featured an article about the term transgenderist (Mesics 1975), defining it in the manner Prince would later use, and in 1976, Ari Kane, a contemporaneous gender-variant community leader on the East Coast, used the term in a similar fashion (see Mesics 1975). Prince and Kane, however, did not use the word “transgender” in its contemporary all-inclusive sense, nor were they first in coining words involving some compound of trans + gender. More importantly, the earliest documented uses of “transgender” do not distinguish cross-dressing or living full time without surgery from transsexual identities.
In 1965, for example, Dr. John Oliven proposed that the term transsexualism be replaced by the term transgenderism, arguing that the concept of sexuality could not account for the “all consuming belief that [transsexuals] are women who by some incredible error were given the bodies of men” (1965: 514). On April 26, 1970, a TV Guide newspaper insert used the term “transgendered” to describe the transsexual title character of Gore Vidal's sex-change farce Myra Breckinridge (“Sunday Highlights” 1970). In 1974, Drs. Robert Hatcher and Joseph Pearson used “transgender” as a term for operative transsexuals, writing, “The transvestite rarely seeks transgender surgery” (1974: 176). During that same year, Oliven again used “transgender” but this time as a term inclusive of both transvestites and transsexuals (1974). By 1975, transvestite/transsexual groups began using “transgenderism” as a term inclusive of transsexuals and transvestites (Dowell 1975). In 1979, 1982, and 1985, Christine Jorgensen, then perhaps the world's most famous transsexual, publicly rejected the term transsexual in favor of the term transgender (Parker 1979; Associated Press 1982; Canadian Press 1985). In 1984, TV-TS Tapestry magazine featured an article recounting the importance of a “transgender community,” in which “transgender” was used as an umbrella term inclusive of transsexuals and cross-dressers (Peo 1984). By the mid-1980s, “transgender” had been used multiple times — in medical, pop-culture, and trans community sources alike — as an umbrella term inclusive of transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people.2 The dramatic rise in the term's popularity in the early 1990s, therefore, should be seen as the acceleration of a longer trend rather than the creation of a new meaning for an existing term that originally meant something else. The coinage, uptake, and diffusion of “transgender” was an organic, grass-roots process that emerged from many sources, in many conversations happening in many different social locations.
This new understanding of transgender's etymology not only has important implications for tracing the complex recent history of gender and sexuality; it can also intervene in contentious identitarian disputes within and among various contemporary trans communities. One common polemical use of what might be called the “Virginia Prince Fountainhead Narrative” of transgender's origin is that a motley movement of various gender-nonconformists, transsexuals, and queers commandeered a term that referred specifically to heterosexual cross-dressers who chose to cross-dress full time — transgenderists — thereby colonizing the identity label of another group and forcibly assimilating them into political and social formations they wanted nothing to do with.3 Prince herself felt this way; she claimed ownership of the term and objected to the broader use of “transgender” (Prince 1991).
Etymological research clearly documents, however, that since the 1970s, “transgender” has in fact been used with a variety of meanings. One important use has been to group together different kinds of people who might otherwise have virtually no social contact with one another. This grouping together across fine gradations of trans experience and identity can facilitate communication and hence build the experienced reality of a shared community, with overlapping and intersectional social needs and political goals. It is this expansive, rather than narrow, use of the term that encompasses the intellectual and political promise of a transgender studies.
1. See the chart documenting the rising popularity of transgender in Stryker and Aizura 2013 (2).
2. See the extensive citations published in Williams 2012.
3. See, for example, the opinion of Billie Jean Jones (1992), publisher of cross-dresser magazine TV Guise.
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