What is Maria Menounos looking forward to most in 2019? “My goal is to have children,” she exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “This is definitely the year!” And when it comes to achieving her goals, Maria should never be underestimated.
“When I was in the Miss Teen USA pageant [in 1996], I remember telling Bob Goen that I wanted to work with him at Entertainment Tonight, and then a minute later I was knocking on his dressing room door, saying, ‘Hi Bob, it’s me. I’m here!’” the 40-year-old star recalled.
Along the way, she’s also been a correspondent for Today, Access Hollywood, Extra and NBC Nightly News, starred on One Tree Hill and wrestled in the WWE. And just months after surviving a scary brain surgery in June 2017, she married her longtime beau, producer Keven Undergaro, 51, on live television as a part of Fox’s New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey.
Closer recently caught up with the star to talk about her marriage, motherhood and where she gets her incredible strength — scroll down for our exclusive Q&A with Maria!
You’ve interviewed so many stars over the years. Any favorite memories?
I remember doing some really fun interviews with Jim Carrey. Memorable interviews with Vin Diesel that led to our 20-year friendship. I’ve been able to make such great friends with so many people, whether it’s the Kardashians or the Stallones or whoever.
Which celeb wowed you the most?
I’ll never forget when [Sylvester Stallone] did Rocky Balboa and I started gushing about how much I loved it, and we both got so emotional. We were at his house this Christmas Eve talking about that. When I came out of brain surgery, I was quoting Rocky Balboa.
What’s been your favorite gig ever?
My work at NBC Nightly News — to be part of the most prestigious half-hour in journalism was an absolute dream, and I got to do stories that really made an impact. And one of the biggest interviews I’ve ever done was the Obama family. I just found out that Michelle Obama thought [I was gracious] — that was pretty cool.
And you’ve been so busy lately! You have your SiriusXM show and iTunes podcast, Conversations With Maria Menounos, and you’re a host and CEO at the online network AfterBuzz TV, which you founded with Keven. With all that, why did you host the National Dog Show, too?
It’s a 17-year Thanksgiving Day tradition [that promotes] Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation’s Pets and Vets program. It pairs vets with shelter dogs, but the unique part is that the vets actually train them to be their service dogs. It’s a really amazing program.
And you got married on Fox’s New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey. What was it like saying “I do” in Times Square?
That was an amazing moment. Steve officiated and we surprised my parents. At the time, we didn’t really know what was going to happen with my mom [who is fighting brain cancer].
How is she doing today?
She’s doing amazing, thank God. She has another MRI soon, so we’re hoping for continued good news. But at that time, it was really scary. In October, we went for [our second wedding] and had a big ceremony and reception in Greece. We ended 2018 with some amazing wedding memories. Now every day is just a blessing.
So do you celebrate your anniversary on New Year’s Eve or in October?
I’m going to be super smart about this. I get two anniversaries now. Why wouldn’t I ask him for two gifts? [Laughs]
How is your health doing nowadays?
Great! Thank God.
Has your perspective on life changed since your brain surgery in 2017?
So much! I realized that my health has to be first, that life is really short and so many things have changed.
What do you do to stay healthy?
I feel like I wasn’t able to do much for a long time, so I’ve taken up Pilates because it’s pretty easy on my body. I’m really passionate about getting my green juices on, because I’ve been anemic and it really helps with my energy. And I’m just trying to eat as clean as I can, and eliminate sugar as much as possible … although I did have my JetBlue Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow cookie yesterday — just too good of a combo.
How else is your perspective different?
My views on success have changed — just my perspective on what I will and won’t do. Now I really just pursue the things that I feel passionate about. I was so career-oriented. I’m trying to enjoy friends and family more.
You’ve been open about wanting to conceive via a surrogate. How many kids do you want?
That’s the thing — [not] that many. We kind of want to do the twin thing and get it over with, but everyone’s against that because it’s really difficult for both to take … although you see so many people end up with triplets and more, so we’ll see.
That could be a handful!
I have to talk to the doctor more, but it would be great to knock it all out at once. We were at Adam Carolla’s holiday party and he said, “Twins don’t mean double the work — it’s more like quadruple the work.” So I thought, Oh boy, maybe I’ll rethink this. [Laughs]
Keven was your boyfriend for 20 years before you wed. Anything feel different?
I think we’re more bonded than ever because you never think that anything will change. You think you’re already super grounded and there’s nothing more, and it’s hard to explain but there just was, and we really are enjoying it. It’s been a lot of fun.
What’s the most recent romantic thing he’s done for you?
He does things literally all the time! For him, it’s service: gassing and washing my car, grabbing food for me on the way home, driving me to get my nails done. He’s always there to fill in the gaps and help me in any way possible.
How would you describe this time in your life?
I’m a little bit more enlightened than before. Life’s a little slower-paced by choice, because I’m focusing more on my emotional health as well as my physical and spiritual health. I’ve just been in a much calmer, happier place.
Do you have any regrets?
No. Everything’s been great or a lesson.
It’s like you’ve already had it all!
Yeah! [Laughs] I need to make some new dreams!
For more on Maria Menounos, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter. for more exclusive news!