Kelly Ripa: ‘Live’ execs banished me to a janitor’s closet instead of an office

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Kelly Ripa claims “Live” executives banished her to a janitor’s closet instead of giving her an office during her early years on the morning show.

The longtime co-host admitted in a new interview that had she “known how difficult” her first three seasons would have been, she might not have taken the gig in the first place.

“It was the strangest experience I’ve ever had in my life. I was told that I couldn’t have an office,” Ripa, 52, told Variety in her Power of Women 2023 cover story published Tuesday, adding that she also was not given maternity leave, vacation time or a wardrobe budget when she joined “Live” in 2001.

“It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially because there were empty offices that I could have easily occupied,” she recalled.

Kelly Ripa covering Variety.
Ripa told Variety her male co-hosts have been given preferential treatment over her.
Celeste Sloman for Variety

In fact, Ripa shared that when she asked about being moved to one of the available rooms, producers told her they were reserved for executives visiting from the West Coast.

“It was after my fourth year that they finally cleaned out the closet and put a desk in there for me,” she continued. “And so I was working in the janitor’s closet with a desk so that I could have a place to put things.”

However, after original host Regis Philbin left the show in 2011, Ripa assumed she would finally get an actual office — only to be snubbed once again for her incoming male counterpart, Michael Strahan.

Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan posing outside "Live with Kelly and Michael."
Ripa thought she would get Regis Philbin’s office after his departure, but executives were planning on giving it to Michael Strahan.

“They said, ‘Oh, no, we’re saving that.’ And I said, ‘Saving it for what?’ And they go, ‘Well, for when the new guy comes,’” she remembered.

“And I looked at them, and I said, ‘I am the new guy.’

“I just moved my things. I forced my way into the office because I couldn’t understand how I would still be in the janitor’s closet and somebody new would come in and get the office.”

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Kelly Ripa and Regis Philbin hosting "Live."
Ripa joined the show in 2001 alongside Philbin.
Getty Images

The experience was just another reminder to Ripa that female anchors were viewed as sidekicks rather than the main talent.

“It was like watching the same movie all over again: All of those offices that were not available to me were suddenly made available, with walls knocked down to make them twice as big,” she said. “It was fascinating for me to watch — the need to make the new guy comfortable and respected, but I couldn’t use those offices. I had to use the broom closet.”

Not only that, but Ripa also claimed she was not given her own bathroom and had to share a public restroom with the live studio audience — despite her male co-anchors having their own stall.

Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest posing for a "Live" promo photo.
Ripa allegedly also had to share the same public bathroom that the live studio audience used.

“Picture this … we have a studio audience — like 250 people! — and I have to queue up,” she told the publication, noting that it was “extraordinarily exhausting to have to wait in line” while she was pregnant.

“I have to host the show, and I’m still waiting in line to use the bathroom. It just seemed, you know, a very needlessly difficult situation” the actress continued, adding that even the audience “couldn’t believe” she would be waiting in line beside them.

Fast-forward 22 years — and three different male co-hosts — and Ripa finally feels like she is getting the respect she deserves, earring a salary in the range of $20 million a year.

Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa cuddling on a beach.
The talk show host’s husband, Mark Consuelos, is going to be taking over as her co-host next season.
Mark Consuelos /Instagram

“I don’t think they wanted to pay me,” she said of negotiating her large contract. “I think they had to pay me.

“I was trying to walk out the door and close it behind me. And I think they really figured out rapidly that they had screwed up in a major way, and it was not a good look. I think that was really the impetus behind paying me fairly. They had no choice.”

Following Ryan Seacrest’s departure from the show, which he announced last month, Ripa’s husband, Mark Consuelos, is set to take over as her co-host.

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