In a week of revelations on “The Talk,” Wednesday was Julie Chen’s turn to drop a bombshell.
The co-host made a very personal reveal on her morning chat show when she confessed to the world that she’s had plastic surgery.
“My secret dates back to — my heart is racing — it dates back to when I was 25 years old and I was working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio,” Julie began.
She then set the scene by showing a clip of what a young Julie Chen looked like as a reporter at one of her first jobs and explaining how it was her dream to be a network news anchor some day.
“So, I asked my news director … over the holidays if anchors want to take vacations, could I fill in? And he said, ‘You will never be on this anchor desk, because you’re Chinese.’ He said ‘Let’s face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton? On top of that because of your Asian eyes, I’ve noticed that when you’re on camera, you look disinterested and bored.’
“So, what am I supposed to say to my boss? I wanted to cry right then and there. It felt like a dagger in my heart, because all of my life I wanted to be a network anchor,” she continued.
She then went on to explain how the situation took her back to her childhood growing up in Queens, New York, experiencing racism, and how the kids on the bus would make “ching chong” comment on the bus. “It was racism,” she said.
“So I started recording my newscasts every day and all I could see was my eyes, and I’d ask myself, ‘Does he have a point?’ I’d always ask myself, ‘Do I look bored?’
“So I started meeting with agents for career advice, and this one big-time agent basically told me the same thing. He had the biggest names in the business. And he told me the same thing. He said, ‘I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look better.’ He then whips out a list of plastic surgeons who have done this procedure.”
Julie then explained to the studio audience and her fellow co-hosts how half of all Asians are born with a double eyelid, and that the excess skin hangs down.
“But the agent said, ‘You’re good at what you do. And if you get this plastic surgery done, you’re going straight to the top.’
“So, I consulted with my mother, and [she greeted me with] silence. She said, ‘This is a deeper conversation that we have to have with your father.’ We talked about if this was denying my heritage, and whether or not I should have this done.”
“And this agent — he represented the most famous Asian broadcaster out there at the time — you know who I’m talking about and I’m not going to say names.
“So, this divided my family. Eventually, my mom said, ‘You wouldn’t have brought this up to me unless this was something that you wanted to do.’ And they told me that they’d support me, and they’d pay for it, and that they’d be there for me.”
Julie then showed the audience side-by-side photos of what she looked like before and after her procedure.
“And after I had it done, the ball did roll for me,” she confessed. “And I wondered, did I give into the man?”
Then it was Sheryl Underwood’s turn to chime in.
“You have represented your race and your colleagues,” she said supportively as the studio audience erupted in applause.
“I think you were beautiful then and you’re beautiful now,” Sara Gilbert chimed in.
“I have to live with every decision that I’ve made,” Julie concluded. “And it got me to where we are today. And I’m not going to look back.”