When Lauren Sanchez left Fox to start contributing to “Extra,” she was ready for her TV career to take flight. But she didn’t reach her dream destination.
The 53-year-old TV host and helicopter pilot who has catapulted into the public eye with her relationship with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019, recalled in an interview with WSJ Magazine the moment she felt like her career was crashing down in 1999. She didn’t get her dream job — a role on Barbara Walters daytime talk show “The View.”
“It was one of the most devastating days of my life,” Sánchez told Derek Blasberg in an interview with WSJ Magazine published Wednesday.
Sanchez recalled bonding instantly with Walters while auditioning for “The View,” though she admitted clashing with original cast member lawyer and journalist Star Jones, 60. Their differences may have cost her the role. Instead, journalist Lisa Ling took the coveted spot alongside Jones, Meredith Vierra, Joy Behar and Walters, who personally phoned Sanchez to tell her the disappointing news that left her in tears for days.
Sanchez said Jones later apologized and that Walters remained a mentor.
“She [Walters] really helped me with my career. Not only as someone I looked up to, but really guided me when I was up for The View,” Sánchez told WSJ Magazine after Walters died in December.
“Producers were trying to make me dress extra conversative and she saw me and said, ‘What happened?’ She said, ‘They will try and make you ordinary. Don’t let them. Then, if you fail, at least you fail as yourself.’ I never forgot that.”
She found the silver lining in the career setback.
“It turned out to be a good thing because I wouldn’t have had Nikko,” Sánchez said of giving birth to her first child, who is now 21, with former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez.
“Everything happens for a reason,” she said.
Before TV, Sanchez initially wanted to be a flight attendant. At age 18, she moved to Los Angeles with hopes of working for Southwest Airlines. Her weight thrawted her from landing the role.
“Back then, they weighed you, and I weighed 121 pounds,” she told WSJ Mag of a required weigh-in she failed back in 1989, during the time weight restrictions were common in the industry. “They said, ‘You need to be 115.’”
Today, she said, she’d clap back saying: “I don’t want to be a stewardess. I want to be the pilot!”
Her relationship with Bezos has also taken flight with the duo jet setting to the likes of the Taj Mahal, hiking with King Charles in Scotland and getting chatty with Leonardo DiCaprio at the LACMA gala.
Sanchez cut her teeth in Hollywood at age 28 when she landed a small role as a TV reporter on “Fight Club” in 1999 doing a breaking news segment on underground boxing clubs.
“Jared Leto calls me hot—I peaked!” she quipped.