Kelly Ripa Says She Battled Outrageous Sexism After Becoming Daytime’s Top Star: ‘I Don’t Think They Wanted to Pay Me’


Ripa has been a talk show host for 22 years. She has earned millions in her role and has been the beautiful face seen by millions of midday television viewers as they go about their afternoons. Before she joined Live! alongside Regis Philbin, Ripa was best known for her role on the soap opera All My Children.

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She’s been the driving force behind the talk show for decades, and now that her current co-host Ryan Seacrest, moves on to other projects, Kelly is contemplating the transition that comes with finding a new male co-host to join her on the show.

Ripa has shared some anxiety that she’s had surrounding the recent change. “Ryan and Mark were like, ‘What are you nervous about? It’s going to be fine,’ and I said to them, ‘You have to forgive me. I have a little PTSD.’” 

She’s discussed the different forms of unprofessional conduct that she has experienced during her tenure like not being notified about her co-hosts departures, “commanded” to use hair and makeup teams that weren’t her own for no particular reason, and being denied vacation time, maternity leave, and a wardrobe budget when she first began the show.

“It was very tough,” Ripa shared. “Had I known how difficult it would have been, I don’t know that I would have gone for it. I just think my ignorance in that situation wound up being my blessing and my superpower. I did not have an easy time.”

It took three seasons and strenuous negotiation for Ripa to be given an office space at the network. Before then, ABC gave her an unused janitor’s closet.

It was the strangest experience I’ve ever had in my life. I was told that I couldn’t have an office,” she revealed. “It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially because there were empty offices that I could have easily occupied.”


The network would tell her that the spaces were reserved for execs coming in from the West Coast. “It was after my fourth year that they finally cleaned out the closet and put a desk in there for me. And so I was working in the janitor’s closet with a desk so that I could have a place to put things.”

The network didn’t provide Ripa with a private bathroom to use either. “Picture this. We have a studio audience — like 250 people! — and I have to queue up. Particularly when I was pregnant, it was extraordinarily exhausting to have to wait in line. I have to host the show, and I’m still waiting in line to use the bathroom. It just seemed, you know, a very needlessly difficult situation.” 

She didn’t realize the power she had until her contact was up. “I don’t think they wanted to pay me,” Ripa shared. “I think they had to pay me. I was trying to walk out the door and close it behind me. And I think they really figured out rapidly that they had screwed up in a major way, and it was not a good look. I think that was really the impetus behind paying me fairly. They had no choice.”

Now, as Ripa has taken on a more senior role for the talk show, as well as being joined by her husband, actor Mark Consuelos, as co-host, she hopes to be an inspiration to other women fighting for their rightful place in entertainment, corporate settings, and beyond.

“It’s the only reason I speak out. “It’s not just that I have a daughter. I have co-workers. I have people in my life that I care about. I don’t want them to have to scrape for the scraps.”

Read More: Ryan Seacrest Departs ‘Live with Kelly and Ryan’, Replaced by Mark Consuelos (

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