Kelly Ripa is the queen of morning television. Having hosted ABC talk show Live for nearly two decades, Ripa often begins the show with candid updates about her life. From her marriage to Riverdale’s Mark Consuelos (23 years and counting!) to raising her three kids— Michael, Lola, and Joaquin—Ripa seems to have it all. But while television hosting comes naturally to her, it hasn’t come without its own drama. That, coupled with her hard parenting style, reveals that there’s a lot hidden underneath Kelly Ripa’s perky personality.
Kelly Ripa Was A Cheerleader In New Jersey
Kelly Ripa was born on October 2, 1970 and grew up in Berlin, New Jersey. Having studied ballet since the age of three and having a talent for the piano, it wasn’t far off to assume that Ripa would enter the entertainment business.
A cheerleader throughout high school, Ripa found encouragement from her drama teacher to pursue acting. Ripa has said, "I owe so much of my career to Jim Beckley," who believed Ripa was a natural performer.
She Didn’t Have A Clear-Cut Path
Though Ripa began attending Camden County College after high school, she eventually left to move to New York City to pursue acting. In 1986, she was a regular dancer on Dancin’ On Air and at age 19, she was on Dance Party USA. She also worked as a demo girl for Nerf footballs to make ends meet.
“There was never any clear-cut path… [In the entertainment industry,] it’s really 90 percent luck, 5 percent opportunity, and 5 percent skill,” she told Redbook.
She Was Hayley On All My Children For 12 Years
In 1990, Kelly Ripa was offered her first major acting role on All My Children. Ripa debuted as bad girl Hayley Vaughan on November 22, 1990, and viewers were instantly taken by her character. It was a role that Ripa played for the following 12 years, within which time she was nominated for two Daytime Emmys.
"I never auditioned for anything… Eventually I saw that I had to change my own destiny. I had to light my own fire," she told Redbook.
AMC Led Ripa To Meet The Love Of Her Life
All My Children not only made Kelly Ripa a soap opera star but it also led her to Mark Consuelos, who debuted on the show as Mateo Santos in 1995. For Ripa, it was love at first sight.
“[When] I met Mark, I was just sort of thunderstruck. I had a dream about him that night. The next day I went up to him and… I said, ‘I had a dream about you last night. We were married and had a little girl and were on a plane to Rome.’ And he was like, ‘Oh , really?’ and walked away and probably thought about filing a restraining order,” Ripa recalled to Redbook.
Their Elopment Had Led To Over Two Decades Of Marital Bliss
Consuelos certainly wasn’t filing any restraining orders because it turned out that he had eyes for his co-star as well. “I thought she was the coolest, sexiest chick,” Conseulos recalled to Elle of first meeting Ripa.
A year after dating, Ripa and Consuelos flew to Las Vegas to elope on May 1, 1996. To this day, the couple has celebrated over two decades of wedding anniversaries, which is considerably rare for a relationship in the entertainment industry.
Ripa Wanted To Raise Decent, Happy People
A year after their wedding, Ripa and Consuelos started a family. They welcomed their first-born son Michael in 1997. Their daughter Lola and their youngest son Joaquin followed in 2001 and 2003, respectively.
“My ultimate goal is to raise my children to be decent, happy people. I think that’s all any mother really wants. With my daughter, I want her to see that a woman can have a career and a family – that it is possible,” Ripa told Redbook.
She Made A Lasting Impression On Regis Philbin
Indeed, Ripa has raised her children all while her career skyrocketed. In 2000, Kathie Lee Gifford made her exit as the co-host of ABC’s Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, which led to Regis Philbin hosting on-air auditions for a replacement. Ripa, whose appearances on AMC were dwindling down, was a shoo-in.
“Hers was a natural, quick-witted, unaffected, confident, fun-loving kind of sparkle that both [Live producer Michael] Gelman and I remembered very well,” Philbin recalls of Ripa in his autobiography.
Her Unforgettable First Day
On her first audition for Live in 2000, one of the guests was psychic Char Margolis, who predicted on air that Ripa was pregnant with her second child at the time. Ripa was visibly dumbfounded saying, “I haven’t told my boss yet!” Regardless, Ripa got the job and beat out names like Bernadette Peters and Valerie Bertinelli in the process.
“Kelly had this great chemistry with Regis where there was a little flirtation, and they just obviously amused each other,” Gelman recalled to Elle.
Ripa Brought The Show New Life
On February 5, 2001, Kelly Ripa was announced as Philbin’s official co-host on Live, a job that would endure for decades to come. Ripa has since been credited with bringing “a new life to the show” as she and Philbin averaged a daily viewership of six million people.
Ten years later in 2011, Philbin retired from his post on Live, leaving Kelly to take the helm on her own as she auditioned a number of potential new co-hosts.
Kelly And Michael Brought The Show To Its Best
After a carousel of 60 men and women who co-hosted with Ripa over several months, former New York Giants player Michael Strahan debuted as her official new co-host in 2012. Renamed Live With Kelly & Michael, the talk show garnered over 260,000 more audience members and higher ratings than what was ever seen with Regis Philbin on the show.
For four years, the Ripa-Strahan chemistry charmed viewers until one day, Ripa was blindsided by some shocking news.
There Might Be A Bit Of Bad Blood
In 2016, ABC announced that Michael Strahan would be leaving Live to become a host on Good Morning America. When the news broke, Ripa didn’t report to work for a week and upon her return, started the show with a candid speech about workplace respect and communication. Viewers felt her congratulations towards Strahan was forced.
In a TIME interview three years later, Strahan would credit Ripa for broadening his reach as a TV personality but also said, “I haven’t spoken to her in a long time.”
Ryan Seacrest Came To The Rescue
When Strahan left the show, Ripa had to audition a whole new round of potential co-hosts until she and producers finally settled on Ryan Seacrest in 2017. The long-time radio host was already known as the host of American Idol, so the casting couldn’t have been more perfect.
“My favorite part of [Live] is the first 20 minutes when Kelly and I walk out and just start talking about whatever is happening in our lives,” Seacrest told Parade.
Ripa Limits Television Time For Her Kids
Many people assume that having celebrity parents makes life easy — except if one of your parents is Kelly Ripa. Throughout her Live career, Ripa has often talked about the trials and tribulations of her motherhood experiences, giving insight into the various “rules” that her kids have to follow under her roof.
One of them was the lack of television. Despite the fact that both Ripa and Consuelos are always on TV, their kids haven’t seen much of it. “We don’t really let the kids watch TV, except maybe on the weekends,” Ripa told Redbook.
They’re Not Allowed To Have Junk Food
Kelly Ripa is one celebrity who stays quite fit. While she attributes her figure to a regular exercise routine, she also credits her diet — which she also imposed on her children while they were growing up.
“They don’t have a choice… We don’t keep a lot of junk in the house, so they eat what’s there, which is a big bowl of fresh fruit,” Ripa told Shape magazine in 2011.
Ripa Makes Them Write Thank-Yous
Ripa is one mother who will not have impolite children. Ever since they were kids, she’s made them practice the art of writing thank-you notes every time they receive gifts.
“I am very serious about sending thank-you notes – to the point where my oldest son, Michael, has asked to not have birthday present anymore because he doesn’t want the burden of thank-you letters,” Ripa once told People in 2010.
She Won’t Let Her Kids Do This
Of all the things Ripa’s children are absolutely prohibited from doing is failing Spanish class. Ripa once dished to Wendy Williams in 2014 that she was upset that her daughter Lola was spending time on her phone over studying Spanish.
“I’m like, ‘You’re half-Mexican. Your grandmother is a Spanish teacher. You’re not allowed to fail Spanish. It’s the one thing you’re not allowed to fail,'” Ripa said.
Ripa Has Control Over Their Phones
Ripa wants her children to succeed, which is why she has banned the use of phones during their designated study hours. In fact, when she discovered that Lola—who was 13 at the time—was using her phone, it was because Ripa was snooping on Lola’s phone.
Ripa unabashedly admitted to Wendy Williams that she knows Lola’s phone passcode. “We will give you certain freedoms, but when you want privacy in a not private world… you can’t have privacy and be on Instagram,” Ripa said.
She Played The Fashion Police
Moms often pick out our outfits for us when we’re too young to do it ourselves but for Ripa, she had to be a little more stern – especially when it came to her daughter Lola.
“With Lola, everything is up for debate. Everything is a conversation. First thing in the morning, it’s a major discussion about what she’s going to wear. I’ve learned to give her limited options: ‘You can wear this or this,'” Ripa explained to WebMD.
She Doesn’t Tolerate Interruptions
Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos are the type of parents that gather their children for dinner most nights to talk about everyone’s day. Even at dinner time, Ripa has had to lay down the law to teach her kids not to interrupt.
“I don’t tolerate piggish behavior in kids, and mine have learned the hard way,” especially when it comes to “no interrupting people at the dinner table,” Ripa told People in 2010. “Lola and Joaquin actually like to cut each other off, so we work on letting everyone finish their thoughts respectfully.”
She’s Not Their Friend
From what it seems, Ripa is not one of those parents who spoils her kids. Whenever she tells them “No,” she means it and that’s something that they had to abide by growing up.
“I think the most important thing is to remember to be a parent and not a friend. My kids know I’m not their BFF… My kids understand that we love them no matter what – and they also know that ‘no’ means no,” Ripa told WebMD.