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Book Summary: Live Wire – Long-Winded Short Stories

Live Wire (2022) is a compilation of humorous essays by actor and talk show host Kelly Ripa. She opens up about her 30 years in showbiz and shares the challenges and joys of getting ahead in a male-dominated industry while raising a family.

Book Summary: Live Wire - Long-Winded Short Stories

Content Summary

Genres
Introduction: Become inspired by one of the entertainment industry’s power players.
A fated meeting
Becoming a parent with just nine days of maternity leave
Joining Live in spite of all the challenges
Learning that “no” is a magic word
An empty nest – and a new chapter
Summary
About the author
Overview
Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award
Video and Podcast

Genres

Biography, Memoir, Society, Culture, Autobiography, Humor, Short Stories, Writing, Essays, Adult, Arts, Literature, Television Performer Biographies, Women’s Biographies, Actor and Entertainer Biographies

Introduction: Become inspired by one of the entertainment industry’s power players.

If you own a TV in the United States, you will have seen Kelly Ripa. Maybe you followed her adventures as a lead in the beloved soap opera All My Children. Or perhaps she’s kept you company as you ease into your day on her talk show, Live. Even if you don’t own a TV or live in the United States, chances are you’ll be familiar with Ripa through her enormous online presence – she has over 3 million followers on Instagram.

The truth is, Ripa has become a household name. But that didn’t happen overnight. It happened over the course of a career that has spanned 30 years in the entertainment industry.

And it didn’t come easily. Ripa has weathered entrenched sexism and chauvinism, from being paid less and given less seniority to being subjected to extreme scrutiny about the way she looks and dealing with trolls on Instagram. Ripa, like so many women, also grappled with how to pursue her career while dealing with most of the household work and parenting obligations.

Through it all, Ripa persevered, drawing on her inner toughness, determination, and a big dose of dark humor. Today, she uses her enormous platform to support other marginalized groups, like the LGBTQI community.

A fated meeting

On paper, Kelly Ripa’s marriage to Mark Consuelos shouldn’t have lasted for more than two months – never mind over two decades.

That may sound a bit judgmental, but here are the facts: They met as young costars on the set of the hit ’90s soap opera All My Children. They were both involved with other people when they got together. And they got married on a whim in Vegas, after having broken up and gotten back together only five days earlier.

This sounds more like a recipe for a brief, misguided fling than the recipe for a long and stable marriage. But, more than a quarter century and three grownup children later, their partnership has proved to be one of the most enduring unions in the entertainment industry. No unconscious coupling for them. These two are well and truly coupled.

So, what is it that has allowed their marriage to be so resilient – to truly stand the test of time?

Well, the first thing is that the couple has unmistakable chemistry, and an almost irresistible attraction to each other. Ripa swears that she fell in love with Mark the moment she first saw his headshot. She had an uncanny instinct that he was The One. Then he came to audition for a role of her lover in All My Children. In person, the attraction was even more overwhelming. Ripa was usually the one being hit on by aspiring actors on set. But, in this case, she was the one doing the chasing. Whenever she was around Mark, she found herself gabbering uncontrollably in an attempt to impress him.

After meeting him just once, Ripa had a vivid dream – she and Mark were flying together to Rome, accompanied by their baby daughter. The next time she ran into Mark on set, she informed him of the dream, much to his surprise. He played it cool at the beginning, but eventually he succumbed to her charms. They started secretly dating, their electric on-screen chemistry blurring into their private lives. That magnetic attraction is still there, over 25 years later. Ripa credits Mark’s talents as a “mindful lover” for the longevity of their marriage. In spite of all the stresses of everyday life, they’ve kept the spark alive.

But great chemistry alone won’t make your marriage endure for decades. Ripa is clear that the real secret to a long-lasting marriage is work and commitment. Spending decades with one person is not for the faint-hearted. In fact, it’s an incredible act of bravery. You have to go through all the messy emotional stuff that life can bring. You have to learn to compromise. And, sometimes, you have to have incredible amounts of patience. You may wonder what you ever saw in your partner.

But when the going gets tough, think back to the early days of your relationship. Why did you choose the person you’re with? What drew you to them? Allow yourself to remember the sheer delight you experienced in their company, the shock of attraction that coursed through your body. Marriage, like life, is long. But there’s nothing sweeter than being able to experience that rollercoaster together.

Becoming a parent with just nine days of maternity leave

It’s easy to look at the life of a successful performer or talk show host, and imagine it as a glamorous blur of cocktail parties, movie premiers, and holidays on beautiful deserted islands. It may have some of that stuff, but – as Kelly Ripa will be the first to tell you – it also contains a lot of drudgery and hard work.

Working on a soap opera like All My Children is a godsend for actors craving a stable paycheck and regular work. But the hours are punishing. Ripa worked 10-hour days on set. And when she had her first child, Michael, she was given only nine days of maternity leave.

That’s right – nine days. Not nine weeks or nine months. Imagine going back to work after having major surgery in the form of a cesarean section, and then enduring the sleepless nights and breastfeeding issues that come with getting used to looking after a tiny baby.

Working ten-hour days when you’re going through all of that feels almost inhumane. Ripa valued her career and knew she wanted to prioritize it. But becoming a mother gave her a new perspective of what she called the “time versus money matrix.” Every minute spent away from her children had to be worth it – not least because the costs of childcare ate up an enormous chunk of her salary.

Every parent can relate to that matrix. The challenge of feeling like you have to be in two places at once. That, no matter what you do, you never match up to the parents who attend every class play and football game. So you frantically compensate by overextending yourself on the weekend, when you should be resting. The time-money matrix is omnipresent. And it’s a burden disproportionately shouldered by women.

So, with that in mind, Ripa felt like she couldn’t turn down the offer to cohost the talk show Live. The network offered a much higher salary and better working hours. It meant she’d be able to stay in New York and build a stable base for her growing family.

Joining Live in spite of all the challenges

When Ripa was asked to audition for the role of cohost on the popular talk show Live, she was daunted by the prospect. For one thing, she already worked 10-hour days at All My Children. Adding an early morning talk show to the mix would extend those long days dramatically.

What’s more, Ripa was in the first few weeks of her second pregnancy – although nobody knew about it yet. Trying not to throw up from morning sickness was a full-time occupation, nevermind auditioning for a new show.

But her curiosity won out. One morning, Ripa found herself in the waiting room, about to try out for the role of Regis Philbin’s cohost. Philbin had been on the show for years, and his viewers loved him. The network had been searching for a new cohost, but it wasn’t easy. Philbin was known for being cantankerous and set in his ways.

Ripa would have to demonstrate that she could build rapport and improvise banter with him on the show. But she was nervous, and it had nothing to do with Philbin. A producer had told her that there would be a special guest on the show that morning: a psychic. The psychic would be doing a reading on Ripa, as a demonstration. Ripa was terrified that the psychic would uncover her big secret and announce to the whole world that she was pregnant. Seeing as she hadn’t told her parents or her bosses the news yet, that would be disastrous.

It turned out that Ripa’s worries were well-founded. When the reading happened, the psychic immediately started saying she sensed a second baby. Then she asked Ripa point blank, “Are you pregnant?” Ripa was amazed. But she couldn’t lie. She replied that she was indeed in the early weeks of her second pregnancy. As you can imagine, her bosses weren’t thrilled to hear the news on live TV.

Joining Live was an exciting new step in Ripa’s career. But it came with its own challenges – big ones. Before she started, Ripa hadn’t been warned of the internal politics going on at the show. She also hadn’t been told that Philbin hadn’t chosen to work with her. She entered a hostile work environment, where she was told to “remember who her boss was.” She was denied basic amenities like a private office or the freedom to choose who did her hair and makeup. Philbin spoke to her disparagingly, in one instance even referring to her as “it.”

As you can imagine, this was a very tough way to start a new job. But Ripa had talent, drive, and the support of her family. She was determined not to let the chauvinistic environment stop her from achieving her potential. So she forged ahead in spite of the challenges. Twenty years later, Ripa has been awarded six Emmys for her outstanding hosting, and a GLAAD award for her commitment to creating visibility for members of the LGBTQI community. She’s made the show her own.

Learning that “no” is a magic word

Dealing with a stressful work environment while raising a family and trying to make everyone happy takes its toll. Even if you’re good at it. Especially when you’re good at it.

After she was already well-established in her career, Ripa noticed she was becoming increasingly anxious and depressed. She lived for weekends and holidays, and dreaded going back to work – she’d anxiously count down the days until the holiday ended. She found it hard to get up in the morning and found herself crying all the time.

Seeing a therapist allowed her to start understanding what was happening to her. Every Wednesday afternoon, she dutifully set off for her therapist’s office, pouring out everything she was struggling with.

She started to see that she’d become far too good at pushing aside her own needs to try and keep the peace, at work and at home. She was conditioned to say “yes” to every request, when in fact the real answer she should have been giving was “no.”

Her therapist taught her a line that changed her life. It is as simple as it is effective. “No, that doesn’t work for me.”

No excuses, no apologies, no softening. Simply “no.” Write that phrase down. And practice saying it out loud. It may change your life, too.

An empty nest – and a new chapter

There’s no one who can drive you crazy like your own mother. It’s as if mothers have this unerring instinct about how to push your buttons. Ripa knows this only too well. She usually starts a call with her mother with the best intentions. But then, her mother will say something that drives her up the wall, and she won’t be able to resist snapping at her.

Unfortunately, Ripa’s daughter Lola feels exactly the same way about her. Ripa is banned from Lola’s bedroom. And anything she suggests is usually met with great resistance. In fact, the surest way to make Lola do anything is for Ripa to say that she doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Reverse psychology really can work!

Having children made Ripa realize, for the first time, how hard parenting is. All those grueling, sleepless nights. The constant worry that you’re not measuring up, that you’re not properly looking after your kids. The feeling that you need to protect them from everything that could crush them in the outside world – and knowing you’re powerless to do so. The sensation of never having enough time.

Having children changed Ripa’s perspective of her own childhood. She realized that her mother had always done her best, even under very difficult circumstances. Ripa started feeling a lot of empathy for everything her mother went through (she still drives Ripa crazy, though!).

As intense and exhausting it is to raise your children, it never stops being painful when they leave. Ripa’s children left the nest in quick succession. Luckily, her two eldest children stayed nearby, choosing to study at NYU. Finding the balance between independence and family life was tricky – on occasion, both children had to be ejected from the family home and sent back to their dorms.

Ripa’s youngest son, Joaquin, was the only one to study out of state, at Michigan State University, where he joined the wrestling team. Joaquin has severe dyslexia, and struggled during his early years at school. But, luckily, with support of specialist teachers, he thrived academically. So, leaving him in his new dorm room – and new life – was bittersweet. On the one hand, Ripa felt so much pride at all Joaquin had achieved against the odds. On the other hand, it was painful to have her youngest child leaving the nest. But however she felt about it, Ripa couldn’t ignore reality. He really was starting a new life across the country.

And, soon, she and Consuelos were left in a big, empty house – just the two of them. It felt like the end of an era. But it was also the beginning of something new: The beginning of more independence as a couple, of more time to travel and take on new work projects. The beginning of being able to pay attention to small moments, like a beautiful sunset, completely undistracted by the joyous but chaotic noises of a nest of small children.

Kelly Ripa is ready for all the new challenges – and new beginnings – that come her way.

Summary

You should never let anything get in the way of your dreams – even if the journey toward achieving them is difficult. Women in the workplace face special challenges like sexism, age discrimination, and unfair domestic loads of parenting and housework. These barriers are real, but they don’t mean that you don’t belong in the field you want to be part of. Gather all the forms of support you can. Nurturing relationships, therapy, buckets of resilience, and a big dose of black humor will be invaluable when you’re flagging.

About the author

Kelly Ripa is one of the most powerful voices in media, with a diverse body of work both on and off the camera. A household name for more than two decades and a career at ABC spanning over 30 years, Ripa has welcomed viewers with her sharp wit every morning as the host of the award-winning Live franchise. Having established Live as a major destination for entertainers, politicians, athletes and other cultural icons during her over 20 year stint as host, Ripa has been honored with six Daytime Entertainment Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Talk Show Host and 15 Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show, with a win in the category in 2012.

Beginning her career in entertainment as an actress, Ripa’s success spans across numerous celebrated television series playing various roles. First appearing on the soap opera All My Children, where she met her husband Mark Consuelos on set, Ripa earned three Daytime Emmy nominations. Ripa additionally guest-starred on an episode of the hit comedy series Broad City, where her performance, playing an alternate version of her television persona, was met with rave reviews. Ripa also starred in three seasons of the half-hour ABC sitcom Hope & Faith and in 2003, took a turn in TV’s most coveted role, hosting Saturday Night Live.

Ripa and her husband ventured into the development side of entertainment when they began their NY-based production company, Milojo Productions. Milojo produces and creates content across multiple platforms, working with Bravo, Logo, VH1, E!, CMT, HGTV, WeTV, TLC, Oxygen, ABC Signature, Hulu and Discovery. Additionally, Milojo produced Emmy®-nominated documentary The Streak for ESPN and critically-acclaimed documentary Off The Rez for TLC.

Ripa has earned numerous accolades over the years, including the prestigious Excellence in Media Award from GLAAD and Glamour’s Woman of the Year Award. She is also consistently recognized by The Hollywood Reporter and has been named as part of its annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 list, as well as the publication’s 35 Most Powerful People in Media.

In September 2022, Ripa will add author to her resume, when her collection Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories is published by Dey Street Books.

Ripa lives in New York City with Mark Consuelos, and together the couple have three children.

Kelly Ripa | Website
Kelly Ripa | Instagram @kellyripa
Kelly Ripa | YouTube
Kelly Ripa | Facebook @LiveKellyandRyan
Kelly Ripa | Twitter @LiveKellyRyan
Kelly Ripa | Instagram @livekellyandryan

Kelly Ripa

Overview

An instant New York Times bestseller from Kelly Ripa—a sharp, funny, and honest collection of real-life stories showing the many dimensions and crackling wit of the beloved daytime talk show host.

In Live Wire, her first book, Kelly shows what really makes her tick. As a professional, as a wife, as a daughter and as a mother, she brings a hard-earned wisdom and an eye for the absurdity of life to every minute of every day. It is her relatability in all of these roles that has earned her fans worldwide and millions of followers on social media. Whether recounting how she and Mark really met, the level of chauvinism she experienced on set, how Jersey Pride follows her wherever she goes, and many, many moments of utter mortification (whence she proves that you cannot, in fact, die of embarrassment) Kelly always tells it like it is. Ms. Ripa takes no prisoners.

Surprising, at times savage, a little shameless and always with humor… Live Wire shows Kelly as she really is offscreen—a very wise woman who has something to say.

Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award

“This laugh-out-loud book is a must-read for Ripa’s legions of fans.” — Bustle

“Ripa has a penchant for name-dropping and rambling (or, as she puts it, making a “long story, longer”), but her essays are unapologetic, uninhibited, and undeniably hilarious. This banter-filled collection will delight daytime television devotees.” — Publishers Weekly

Video and Podcast