Interview with Star Jones Reynolds

"I earned the diva image"

Shawn Ehlers
(Image credit: Shawn Ehlers)

Q: What went wrong on The View?

A: We all changed over nine years — we weren't the same pack as when we started. It would have been a lot better if we could have expressed that. It's like having a good girlfriend when you graduate college, then you get your dream job and she doesn't. In six or seven years, you might not be as close. That's what happened on the show.

Q: Any hard feelings?

A: Even to this day, I consider Barbara [Walters] one of my role models. I think of her from the days of the Anwar Sadat and Fidel Castro interviews. It's sad that the younger generation of women only knows her for some of the silliness of The View. How should I put this? Our past is as relevant as our present. But ultimately, you are your very last day.

Q: So you've got a new show. How is it different than what's out there?

A: It's a talk show with a legal peg. I come at it from the juror's perspective. I'll be looking at issues like Imus being fired: Do we believe in First Amendment rights? Does freedom of speech extend to hate speech?

Q: And what's your verdict?

A: I would have fired Imus a long time ago. There's a culture of hate that I think has no place in our country right now.

Q: Your fans love your bluntness.

A: But you can step in it, you know? There was arrogance. I earned the diva image. If you come across like a pompous idiot, other people might think of you as a pompous idiot. Some of the mean-spiritedness — I can understand.

Q: It must take a thick skin to ignore the comments, though.

A: Look at me. Three years ago, do you think I'd ever appear without the lashes, hair, makeup? But now I'm more secure — why do I need to come here looking like Jessica Rabbit?

Q: So why did you do that before?

A: Because I was completely insecure about my weight. You hide behind the wall you've built up. When you weigh 300 pounds, you can't buy certain clothes because they don't make them in your size. So you overaccessorize — shoes, makeup, jewelry, purses.

Q: Ironically, it was a purse that helped you confront your weight.

A: It was the final straw. Every woman carries a little bag when she goes out — for her cell phone, keys, lipstick, and credit card. I had to put an asthma inhaler in mine. It didn't fit. I hated it, but I literally couldn't walk across the room without needing it to breathe.

Q: Ever wish you could go back to being anonymous?

A: During one of the most stressful weeks of my life — the week after I left The View — I needed to buy personal items, like every other woman in America. So I drive to the drugstore and get my things. At the counter, every magazine has my picture on it with screaming headlines. I'm bracing myself because I know I'm going to get a question, and I don't want to talk about it. I get to the register, and the young lady says, "How you doing, Mrs. Reynolds? Paper or plastic?" And it reminded me: Everybody's just doing their job, baby.

Q: Are women in the TV industry making progress?

A: Come on. Women still make 70-something cents to every man's dollar, as if my bread somehow costs 30 cents less than his bread. That pisses me off. Donald Trump told me, "Star, they'd never have given you a hard time if you were a white guy." We have to live with who we are. We'll always be thought of as the chick in the skirt. It's up to us to define who that chick is.