Julie Chen, American television personality, news anchor, producer for CBS, and co-host of the daytime show The Talk, recently turned the spotlight on herself.
On Wednesday, Sept. 11, the veteran journalist revealed a deep, dark secret: Nearly 20 years ago, Chen had undergone plastic surgery in order to look less Asian.
Now, it may be easy to jump to conclusions and bash Chen for disrespecting her Chinese heritage, but it’s important to hear her side of the story. According to US Weekly, Chen said:
“My secret dates back to — my heart is racing — it dates back to when I was 25 years old and I was working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio,” the 43-year-old Chinese American television personality began. “I asked my news director over the holidays, ‘If anchors want to take vacations, could I fill in?’ And he said, ‘You will never be on this anchor desk, because you’re Chinese.”
“He said, ‘Let’s face it, Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton?’” she recalled. “‘On top of that, because of your heritage, because of your Asian eyes, sometimes I’ve noticed when you’re on camera and you’re interviewing someone, you look disinterested, you look bored.’”
Not long after, Chen started looking for another job. But she ran into the same problem when she tried to find an agent to represent her. “This one big-time agent basically told me the same thing,” she revealed. “He said, ‘I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look bigger.’”
Chen explains that with her career on the line, she couldn’t see another solution. The decision became so weighty that she opened up to her parents about whether or not this surgery would be a denial of their culture. This led to a family divide where some members believed that Chen should be disowned.
Coming to the conclusion that she did not want to lose her career, Chen followed through with the surgery and her career progressed as a result.
Although the secret has haunted her and caused her to question a lot of things, she ultimately has no regrets. “No one’s more proud of being Chinese than I am,” she told her co-hosts at The Talk. “And I have to live with the decisions I’ve made. Every decision I’ve made … it got [me] to where we are today, and I’m not going to look back.”