And the story of the semi-creepy meet-cute that led to the beginning of her marriage.
We’ve been welcoming Kelly Ripa into our homes for decades. As a talk show host, she’s cheerily greeted us from our televisions each morning as we groggily down our coffee. And as a notable daytime soap star, we also sat down to watch her in the afternoons when we had spare time.
Now, however, you can also pack her personality into your bookshelf: Ripa just made the leap into print. Her new book, Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories, shows off all of her most notable talents: Precise wit, an appreciation of the absurd, and an honest sense of relatability. To celebrate her writing debut, Kelly sat down with Katie to talk about the writing process, her family’s (hilarious) reactions to her stories, and the cringeworthy story of how she met (or…accosted) her husband. Plus, tune into the podcast to hear Kelly’s advice about how to stop people-pleasing and thrive in a male-dominated workplace.
Why Her Mother Didn’t Read Her Book
KC: I felt like you didn’t write about your mom that much. I wondered if your mom wanted you to write a little bit more about her.
Kelly Ripa: I’ll give you the heads up on my mom. Of course I would write about my mom in totality but mom is very much like everything I wrote about her: I would read to her [from my book] and then she’d say, “Get rid of that. Get rid of this.” She didn’t want me to talk about her at all. She takes my introversion and turns it like a hundred degrees up.
I said to my mom, “Have you read my book?”
She said, “No, I’m not going to read your sex book.”
And I said, “What are you talking about? I didn’t write a sex book…”
Right away I know that my aunts are sending her the headlines from Google alert or whatever it is. So she said, “You’ve written a sex book and I don’t want to read about you doing you know what with you know who.”
It’s not a sex book. As a matter of fact, there’s very little sex in this book. It’s just to advance a story. There’s a disclaimer in that chapter. If you’re related to me in any way, please skip to the next chapter. Don’t read this. I was very conscientious in writing, but [my mom] proved challenging. Almost as challenging as my daughter Lola, who wanted me to take out any and all references to her.
On Starting a Workplace Romance with Her Husband, Mark
I wanted to ask you about Mark because obviously, you guys have an incredible relationship. I did laugh at the story about when you first met him. It was when you were on All My Children and he was coming in to audition. You saw his headshot and basically, he had you.
He had me.
You came out in curlers. You had zit medicine on.
I had toothpaste on because I had tried every other remedy. And I had those giant velcro rollers. You know the ones that look like Coke [cans]. We always say on soap operas, “The bigger the hair, the closer to an Emmy you get.”
So I had these Coke bottle rollers and I didn’t have any makeup on because my scenes were at the end of the day and it’s not first come first serve. So no makeup on this giant pimple. I had covered it with Colgate toothpaste — we decided for some reason at the soap that Colgate was the best for getting rid of zits when all else fails. So, I walked in and he was there. He was brand new to show business. He had never auditioned for anything.
And here he was screen testing for a soap opera. He had no idea what a screen test was. Same as me. When I screen-tested, I thought it was a written exam. And I’m not kidding.
I vomited words at him. He was spellbound.
Not in a good way.
Not in a good way. He was spellbound and he doesn’t recall what I looked like at all. He always goes back to, “I was just trying to get a job and I was warned that actors were strange. You just seemed like a strange actor.”
It’s wonderful that you guys did connect. He wasn’t like, “Security!”
First of all, he should have filed a restraining order. Second of all, I’m not a believer in love at first sight. So to be a person that suddenly found themselves dreaming that I was married to this person and that we were flying to Rome together on an airplane with a baby, made no sense.
The next day at the screen test, as I talk about in the book, I vomited that out at him. I said, “I had a dream.”
He was so non-threatened and grown up about the whole thing. The room fell into a hush.
There were 10 other guys there also auditioning who seemed spellbound by this conversation. [Mark] was not even halfway paying attention. He was taking notes.
I said, “Remember me from yesterday?”
I probably should have been fired. I mean, I broke every rule. I guess [rules] didn’t exist yet — it was the freewheeling 90s. There were no rules. So I somehow became his friend.