Kelly Ripa on the 'self-loathing' experience of writing a memoir, her favorite 'Live!' guests, and figuring out her next career move
- "Live" cohost Kelly Ripa spoke to Insider about her new book, "Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories."
- Ripa shared the challenges of writing and compiling a collection of personal essays.
Kelly Ripa has been in show business for more than 30 years, but the process of penning essays for her new book was far more challenging than regaling TV audiences with colorful anecdotes about her life.
"Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories," released on Tuesday, marks the actress and Emmy-winning daytime-talk-show host's foray into professional writing.
Ahead of the book launch, Ripa sat down virtually with Insider to discuss the overwhelming feeling of "self-loathing" that came from writing her collection of short stories, her all-time favorite "Live" guests, and how she and husband Mark Consuelos are embracing adventures as empty nesters now that their three children (Michael, Lola, and Joaquin) have moved out.
First of all, how are you feeling now that you're about two weeks away from releasing this book?
I keep saying it's like giving birth, only it takes two years and there's no epidural. So that's kind of how I feel, like it's slow contractions happening every five minutes and nobody's offering me pain meds. And it's much harder than I thought it was going to be.
I wrote the book myself, which in hindsight, I never understood why people used ghostwriters or cowriters, and now I'm like, "Oh, I totally get it" because they suffer and you don't suffer. But I had to do it the suffering way.
I'm riddled with anticipation, I'm filled with self-loathing — it's an expression I've used quite a bit. Kal Penn was the first person that checked in with me and said, "Where are you in the writing process? How filled with self-loathing are you?" And I said, "That's the perfect expression. Yes, I have self-loathing."
And I was at the point of the book where I had almost completed the editing process with my editor and he said to me, "Where are you in that?" And I said, "I dreamed last night that I accidentally walk in front of a bus and then the book wasn't released" and he goes, "You're almost finished."
The fact that he saw me and understood, made me feel so encouraged, because I think he's such a brilliant writer and I loved his book so much. And I was so grateful that he released his book after I had already completed writing mine, or I would've just torn it up, torn up the manuscript, and said, "Forget it. Have you read Kal Penn's book? Forget it."
I really love how honest you are in these stories. Was it daunting or scary to be so open in this? I know that you do talk a lot about your own life on your show, but in a book setting, was it scarier for you?
Yes, it was much scarier. I thought that because I read a lot of books I would be able to write one lickety-split, no big deal. I don't know what possessed me. I sat at my computer and wrote it freestyle. I didn't have an outline, I didn't follow any guides. I just sort of followed my rambling brain. And, I think it's part of the charm of the book because I wrote it the way I speak.
What was funny was when I recorded the audiobook, the director kept trying to get me to say certain things another way. And I said to him, "No, this is the way I meant it to sound because that's exactly the way I wrote it." And it was just very funny. He said, "Oh, I'm not used to somebody that's so..." like I was off the page of my book, you know what I mean?
I didn't even need to really look at the pages because I had written it and then rewritten it and then read it over and over again, to the point of almost like I was nauseated and I kept finding new things that I wanted to tinker with or I think it's funnier this way, or I better write it this way.
And then eventually, I realized I had to end it. And so it was just incredibly hard. I now understand, cats and dogs when they give birth to litters, how exhausting that must be because I kept thinking, "No, something else is coming. I know there's something else coming." And that's what I was sort of reduced to by the end of the process.
I really enjoyed reading your "ramblings," as you call them. One of my favorite chapters was the one about marriage. You credited the long-lasting nature of your relationship to compromise. I was wondering if there were other lessons that you wish you knew about relationships when you were younger. Have you imparted any of this wisdom to your kids?
The best thing that I can tell any young person in a relationship, and I write about it in the book, is to find a peer friend couple, not your family, because when you have arguments, particularly early on in your relationship, when you have problems, when there's something that comes up, you wanna confide in your family, you wanna go to your family for comfort. They are your greatest source of comfort. Your parents, your siblings, you wanna go to them, turn to them. They are not going to be able to get over it, whatever it is, they're not going to be able to put it aside. You and your mate, your spouse, your partner will make up, but your family may not be able to make up.
So I always say, try to keep your immediate family out of it and turn to your trusted peer couple, not your peer group. You don't need your gaggle of girlfriends or your gaggle of guy friends involving themselves. There's usually another married couple that maybe they're a little bit older than you, that you can sort of turn to or look to for sage advice, sound compromise, and a judgment-free zone.
They're not going to abandon either one of you when you get over whatever bullshit it is that you've gone through. They're gonna stand by you as a couple because they, as a partnership, love you both equally.
I love that.
It's good advice. It really is good advice.
You're so right. The natural inclination is to tell your family and get their opinion.
And as well-intentioned as they are, they're only going to advocate for you and not necessarily the union.
In your book, there's this really funny story about Melanie Griffith being one of your favorites on the show. Who else are some of your all-time favorite guests? I know there are probably so many running through your mind but are there any that stand out to you?
There are so many. Kevin Hart is a great person to interview because he just comes and takes over. It's almost like a vacation, you know what I mean? You don't even have to do anything. He handles the whole interview. He tells the jokes. He's a great storyteller.
Jennifer Lopez is also that. She comes in and is electrifying. And you just feel like there's almost pixie dust flying in the air. It's like this incredible, funny, irreverent, but also knows the business, knows how to sell the movie, sell the album, whatever it is, but is also very funny and charming and human.
Those are two really good examples. There are so many.
You really tend to only remember the people that are more traumatic or traumatizing than anything. Unfortunately, you really burn bad ones into your brain, but I would never reveal them because there's probably some listening device in my office and I would be penalized in some way for revealing that.
But for the most part, the celebrities are great. Also, we get them at their best. If you can't be great for six minutes, then you're in the wrong business. When you're interviewing people for six minutes, you're seeing the very best of them. But I think that certain people just shine through the six minutes and you just know that it's good.
You know who was on our show today that was great? Naomi Watts. Great. Great. I know her off camera and she's great off camera. Off camera on camera. Just great.
And then you end your book with this reflection on how your kids have grown up and the empty nest situation. But I like that there's a sense of adventure for you and Mark. Could talk a little bit more about that? What has your dynamic been like, with the empty nest period?
We took our first vacation in June without our children that we've ever had. We had never, not since our honeymoon, we went away on our honeymoon for five days. And then ever since we have been with children. Mark always jokes that a vacation with your kids is a trip. You take a trip, you don't take a vacation.
We took a vacation. We woke up when our eyes opened. We left our dogs home with the dog sitter. So we actually took a vacation. There was no schedule but our own. So we hiked, we talked, we read, we watched the evening news, we went to late dinners, we had late breakfasts. We did whatever we felt like. We went to the spa. We went into one of those flotation tanks that you float in warm salt water and it's dark and you just float there and they play chimes and things, and you listen to sounds.
It was luxurious and adventurous. We didn't get bored. Our kids called us several times because they thought we might miss them or that we were bored in some way. And we tried to pretend, "It's not as much fun without you guys," but we had the time of our lives.
And what sort of projects and ventures, professionally or personally, do you wanna pursue next? I'm guessing it's more vacations like that.
More vacations like that, definitely. We have taken up adventure. We went rock climbing, with wires and things, stuff that we never would've done before. We're definitely taking up more adventurous things that we've always wanted to try, but maybe we've done other things because the kids wanted to.
Professionally we've always worked. Even during our vacations, we wind up working. It's just unavoidable now because we're all so reachable now that there's no real excuse to not take that meeting, to not sit in the production meeting.
I think professionally, for myself, I keep talking about this next phase of my career and what it might look like. I did enjoy the writing process, but I would like to create things for other people. So, I think I'm gonna go more into maybe screenwriting, maybe script writing. I'm not entirely sure. I have no authority to do that. I am not educated about that. But that has not stopped me with any of the careers I've chosen.
I think my endgame for the next phase is to sort of back away from being on camera.
I've never really enjoyed being on camera, but it's the only way I could figure out to make a living. Now that I've done that and I'm in a place of more comfortable stability, I'd like to back away and maybe get on the more creative off-camera side.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
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