A lot has been written about Wendy Williams as she made the journey from radio shock jock to controversial talk show host, but now viewers will have a chance to see what she considers to be the “truth” of her life story when Lifetime premieres both Wendy Williams: The Movie and the documentary The Wendy Williams Story…What a Mess.
“Knowing how society is now with the blogs and all the various things offered on the internet, I was able to clear up half-truths, untruths, and also shine light on, ‘But did you know this about me?’” says Williams when asked on a press junket why she wanted to do the two projects. “For my biopic, I wanted it to be very truthful.”
Starring Ciera Payton as Williams and Morocco Omari as Williams’ ex-husband Kevin Hunter, Wendy Williams: The Movie reveals the highs and lows she has experienced throughout the years, including her drug addiction, date rape, and the breakup of her 21-year marriage when Hunter’s cheating ways were exposed.
That said, Hunter wasn’t afforded any input into either project, but he wasn’t completely excluded either. Before the corona virus changed filming protocols, Williams and her manager had planned to get on a plane every Thursday evening, fly to Vancouver, and review that week’s-worth of filming.
“I did invite Kevin to come on one of the trips,” Williams says. “I said, ‘You can fly with us, get your own hotel room, and come if you want to meet Morocco, the man who’s playing you. I think that we did a really great job in picking you.’”
In addition, Hunter was given a promise that he would not be talked about in any other way but Williams’ truth in the documentary and depicted in any other way but her truth in the movie.
“After 21 years of being married, you accumulate a lot of things,” Williams continued. “I wanted to protect our son. He’s only 20 and he’s working his way into being a full-blown man. I felt that divorce is hard enough.”
Even though both the film and documentary are from Williams’ POV, she didn’t do it alone. She had writers to help her wade through her eventful life and edit the selection of the subject matter to be covered.
“It’s very difficult to put the 56 years into two hours, but I think that we’ve captured the most dramatic stuff that Lifetime viewers want, and that Wendy watchers probably want more details on … maybe,” Williams adds.
Here is more of what Williams had to say about the making of the movie and reliving her life:
Monsters & Critics: What was it like revisiting some of your toughest moments for the movie?
Wendy Williams: Well, it wasn’t tough at all. Actually, the life that I’m living right now is my best life, and I have no guilt about saying that. I don’t regret meeting Kevin. I don’t regret falling in love. I don’t regret staying with him for all 25 years, 21 of them married. I like who I am. So, I have no regrets.
M&C: We get such a great insight about you and your family in this film. Who would you say is the one person who knows you best that is not related to you?
Wendy Williams: (she jokes) My cats. They’re not people, but they’re like people to me. We lived together, quarantined. I’ve only had them for a little bit more than a year, and they see it all. In reality, no one person knows me best. I show certain sides of myself to various people, and that’s not a big panel of people.
M&C: How do you think people will react to “your truth”?
Wendy Williams: They’ll probably say, “I can’t believe she had the guts to be so raw and honest.” Then other people, who really listened to me as I spoke out over 35 years of broadcasts, will say, “Oh, my gosh. I remember she talked about this, but I didn’t realize that it was that intense, or that deep.”
M&C: You really put yourself out there, especially by depicting the rape scene. Why was that so important for you, including keeping the person’s true identity to yourself?
Wendy Williams: Well, I didn’t do that on purpose. His name is Sherrick and he was an R&B singer from the ‘80s and ‘90s. He had a song out called Call Me. He was tall, like 6-feet 5-inches, and he date raped me.
He came into town, into DC, and he mesmerized me with his twinkling eyes. He flipped the interview around to where he was interviewing me, and I was just all gaga over this man. He asked me to go to an album release party with him that night. Before the party, I was date-raped by him, and after that, I found out he had spent time in jail.
And then I was date raped in college. But, you know, those types of things happen to girls all the time, and they’ve been happening, a lot of our mothers, grandmothers, great, great grandmothers and their great grandmother’s, too. Women have to know who they are with and know their surroundings and the circumstances. I put myself in a bad circumstance in both places.
In college, I went to the guys dorm room and not for the purpose of having sex. I thought he was my friend, but he used a vulnerable moment because we were smoking bud.
And then with Sherrick, I went to his hotel room. I believed that he was going to change into his album-release outfit. I always went to work with full makeup and full outfit, because I was always that DJ girl who never dressed like a DJ. I was always ready for, “Let’s go,” and I’d be like, “OK, let’s go.”
M&C: You’ve experienced a number of life transitions in the last year that really speaks to your resiliency. As you’ve dealt with these adversities, how much of telling your story on screen has been a healing process for you off-screen?
Wendy Williams: Well, it hasn’t really healed anything. If anything, I’m a much smarter person than I was then, I’m a much smarter person than I was a year ago, and I’m a much smarter person than I was last week.
Every day, I feel like I get stronger and smarter and I have to [be], because I’ve got to take care of me, my son, and my career. I’m in love with being on TV. I love my career. I fell in love with the microphone over 35 years ago as a paying disc jockey, not an intern.
I had a lot of fun doing this movie because it almost didn’t even seem like I was talking about me, because I’d sit back and say, “I can’t believe I survived that.”
And then I’d call Ciera and say, “Ciera, when you do this scene, make sure you giggle at the end. Don’t scream and get upset and throw the papers when you turn your back to who you were screaming and yelling at, make sure that you giggle, and make sure that the fighting that you do with my ex-husband ends with giggles and strength because it took me years to plot my new life.”
Years. Not a moment. I never woke up and said, “Oh, I’m getting a divorce,” or “I’m going to do this or that. I’m going to be on TV.” It didn’t happen like that. The only thing that happened like that is, “Oh, I’m going to be on the radio.”
M&C: What qualities did Ciera have that made her perfect to play you?
Wendy Williams: She wanted it and she actually knew who I was or am. We exchanged telephone numbers, and we would have our chit chats on the telephone. We would sit on the telephone and we would talk about things, anything from hair to nails. It was very important.
M&C: If somebody asks you now, how are you doing, how are you doing?
Wendy Williams: Wonderful, I feel wonderful. Fabulous, wonderful, messy. Not scared. Fearless! But that comes with growth and confidence, the confidence that that comes from within. And a bit of the confidence that other people in your circle give you. If I can’t do it, somebody around me is going to tell me or teach me how to do it, or do it for me. I’ll pay you.
Wendy Williams: The Movie premieres at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 30 on Lifetime.