As a cohost of The View, Sunny Hostin has had a front-row seat to all the widely reported squabbling, on-screen and off, at the show this year. “I’m always fascinated that people are so fascinated with us,” Sunny, 51, tells Closer with a laugh. “Like with any family, there are days when we get into arguments. I have children, and they fight about silly things sometimes, like ‘Who ate the last pickle in the jar?’ Then the next day they’re going to school together, and they’re fine. The View is a lot like that.”
It’s easy for Sunny to put things in perspective. She spent her earliest years in NYC’s crime-ridden Bronx and, at age 7, witnessed her uncle being stabbed. The tragedy changed her life forever, and inspired her to go to Notre Dame Law School, become a prosecutor and fight for criminal justice on TV. Now she’s taking on new challenges as she fights for women’s heart health and pens her first two books — the novel Summer on the Bluffs (out June 16) and the memoir I Am These Truths (out September 22). “I get bored pretty easily,” she admits, “so the more challenges I can find, the better!”
It was great to see you at the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection in February. Do you have family affected by heart issues?
I have people that have had heart attacks. But for me, it’s a larger issue in terms of black women dying from heart disease more than any other cause. And what’s even worse is that black women aren’t even part of the research. So if I can raise just a little bit of awareness, then it’s worth it.
You’ve had such a varied career. Before your work in TV, you were a law clerk, a trial attorney and a federal prosecutor. What drives you?
I’m pretty ambitious and I like to work, but I think the overriding thing is I’m a constant learner and like to try new things. I love to talk and love arguing, so the fact that I got a job on The View is amazing.
How did you land your job there?
I was on CNN and doing ABC News overnight. Whoopi [Goldberg] is an insomniac — she saw me and suggested me to Bill Geddie, who was then the executive producer, and they started auditioning me.
Who do you think will replace Abby Huntsman as a cohost?
I think Abby’s irreplaceable. She’s lovely, and I miss her. But if we’re going to have anyone join our table, it’s got to be someone that’s passionate, can stand her ground and has a really unique point of view. I’m excited to find out who that person is.
Maybe your guest cohost Ana Navarro?
Ana loves Miami, and her husband, Al, so we’ll see if she’s willing to move to New York. I’m sure if she is, we will have her there every day. I just don’t know if she’s willing to do that.
You’ve been on a lot of shows in the past decade as a host or analyst. How long do you think you’ll stay at The View?
Well, I have a long-term contract. I’ll be there until they get rid of me!
You recently talked about a group of kids shouting the N-word at you and your family by your house on July 4. How did that get resolved?
They didn’t find the people that did it, but I was really pleased with the police response. They investigated it, took it seriously. I was also really pleased with how my neighbors and the public reacted. I was honored to be with Ruth Bader Ginsburg this year to honor her. She gave me hope that things are going to get better.
Was there anything in your childhood that put you on your path?
No question, growing up in the Bronx amid some poverty and violence. It shaped me to be better and become a voice for people who haven’t had the opportunities that I’ve had. In terms of my [upcoming] memoir, I Am These Truths, I have always asked people, “How did you get to where you are?” I feel like I owe folks a road map, so that they can try to figure some things out for themselves and explanations of how they can get there
What’s the most amazing thing you’ve experienced?
In my legal career, prosecuting child sex crimes is what I’m most proud of. Although, every moment I almost feel like the best is yet to come. I mean, I recently spoke in front of Congress [in favor of having] cameras in the courtroom. On The View, we’ve interviewed every presidential candidate. That was incredible. But the most surreal experience has been having my children. They’re the most important to me, and I’m most proud of them.
What do they think of seeing you on TV?
I don’t think they could care less about what I do. [Laughs] Lately my son will ask me a question like, “Have you ever met Michelle Obama?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” “Really?” “Yeah, really!” And for my 50th birthday, they came on The View and I think they were a little surprised by it. And my daughter was a little surprised that I was going to be in a fashion show. I think they’re just starting to realize that their mom is not just a lawyer.
How do you balance family and work?
The only way, honestly, is that I prioritize them, and my marriage. I’ve turned down more projects than I’m a part of. Even though I have two books coming out and a development deal with 21st Century, if something doesn’t allow me to go to every basketball game or track meet, or take my son on college visits, it doesn’t happen.
You’ve been married to your orthopedic surgeon husband, Emmanuel Hostin, for 21 years. What’s your secret?
We feel like dinosaurs now! I think it’s that we’re best friends, above all else. We met in church and we’re Catholic, so we made a commitment and we do not believe in divorce. So through it all, when I can’t look at his face one more second, I just go into another room, take a walk, take a yoga class and I just know that I’ll still be married to him tomorrow, and it is what it is. And this too shall pass.
Is there any motto that you live by?
I believe that you cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who can never repay you.