Performers can ascend to stardom via any number of paths in Hollywood: they can rise to prominence by virtue of their talent, or through the old standby of being in “the right place at the right time.” There are also those figures whose route to the spotlight is marked by less than laudable behavior, but more often than not, it’s ability, magnetism and desire to succeed in one’s chosen field that reaps the rewards of fame and fortune.
For Kelly Ripa, all three of these factors have helped to elevate her on a number of platforms, as well as a means that does not always get the credit it deserves: She has strived to remain true to her core values of family, honesty and respect for her peers and others.
“(I) pride (myself) in being regular in an industry that can really challenge a family,” she says. “It might sound stupid, but that’s where I draw my pride from.”
These qualities have helped to make 2015 a banner year for Ripa. She and Michael Strahan, her co-host on “Live With Kelly and Michael” for the past four years, received a Daytime Emmy for entertainment talk show host — an award she’s won twice before during her tenure with Regis Philbin in 2011 and 2012. The September kickoff of the show’s 2015-16 season saw its second highest-rated premiere week in the years that she and Strahan have shared hosting duties.
Ripa’s efforts outside the “Live” universe have also drawn praise this year: She earned rave reviews for playing an unhinged version of herself on the Comedy Central series “Broad City,” and Milojo, the production company she oversees with her husband, actor Mark Consuelos, has forged significant relationships on a variety of platforms, including cable TV and digital, with such entities as Conde Nast and ABC Family. Ripa’s commitment to stories about equality and perseverance, as evidenced by efforts like Milojo’s “Secret Guide to Fabulous” series for Logo, helped earn her the Excellence in Media Award from GLAAD in May.
It’s a long way from Ripa’s starmaking stint as Hayley Vaughan on ABC’s “All My Children,” and yet, if you ask her, her upward path is the result of good timing and great collaborators.
“It’s been a series of accidents that I wound up with this job, which has been such a blessing,” she says.
“It’s given us so much, and I never thought I’d be particularly good at it. But it turned out to be really fun and a role people accepted me in.”
|DYNAMIC DUO: Hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan have scored ratings and Emmys on “Live With Kelly and Michael.” Courtesy of ABC|
She is quick to pay homage to the figures that have played a role in her rise to wider fame: “I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by people that are so smart in their industry — people like Faith Ford (her co-star on the ABC sitcom “Hope & Faith” from 2003 to 2006) with comedy, and Regis, who taught me how to tell a story, and Michael Strahan, who has taught me how to connect with people on a different level.”
According to Ripa, her part in this process has been to absorb their talents like a sponge. “I’ve spent my entire career surrounded by people who are so much better than me,” she proclaims. The end result? “It’s made me pretty OK.”
Ripa is much more forthcoming when speaking about the many projects she and Consuelos have on the docket at Milojo. The company, which counts the Emmy-nominated high school wrestling documentary “The Streak” for ESPN, and the critically praised “Off the Rez,” about Native American high school basketball star (and current WNBA player) Shoni Schimmel, has a slew of current and upcoming projects, including the digital series “Unstoppable Moms” and “La Familia de Hoy” for Johnson & Johnson, and scripted products for ABC and other networks.
“Show business is evolving,” Ripa says. “We want to make sure that we keep ourselves current in every aspect of entertainment. Digital is the fastest growing brand that we’ve entered into, and I feel like there’s no limit to what you can do in that forum.”
When asked what sort of stories appeal to her and Consuelos, Ripa says they are drawn to projects that echo elements of her personal life.
“We are most proud of ‘Off the Rez,’” she says. “It’s the story of (Schimmel’s) life and family and gift, and the sacrifices her mother made to help her achieve her goals. (Those stories) resonate with people in general, ourselves included. There’s something about maintaining a family structure while going through your life that is very appealing to us.”
For Ripa, her family — sons Michael and Joaquin and daughter Lola — is the anchor that grounds her while her career continues to reach the stratosphere.
“Mark and I are so fortunate to have jobs that allow us such freedom to be available to our kids,” she says. “We make our own hours (outside of the talk show), which is great, because we and the kids know that we can wake up at a certain time, we have breakfast, the school bus comes, and I go to my job. And if there’s an afterschool activity, Mark and I can be there. It’s a nice life. And I know that sounds hokey, but maybe we are (hokey). We enjoy life that way.”