Julie Chen is getting a long-deserved apology from an Ohio news station that told her to she would never be an anchor because she’s Chinese.
Chen was a reporter at WDTN in Dayton in 1995 when she was told that no one wanted to see a Chinese news anchor.
“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,’ ” Chen related. “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? On top of that because of your Asian eyes, I’ve noticed that when you’re on camera, you look disinterested and bored.’ “
Julie Chen said the words were like a “dagger in my heart” because her lifelong ambition was to be a news anchor. She began studying tape to see if her boss was correct.
Hoping for some kind of angle into the news business, Chen contacted an agent but heard much of the same.
“I started meeting with agents for career advice, and this one big-time agent basically told me the same thing,” Chen said. “He had the biggest names in the business… He said, ‘I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look better.’ He then whips out a list of plastic surgeons who have done this procedure.”
In an episode of the CBS show The Talk this week, Chen admitted that she ended up getting plastic surgery to look less Asian.
After the revelation, the television station, now under new ownership, reached out to Chen to apologize.
“We are sorry to hear about what happened to CBS’ Julie Chen in 1995 when she was a reporter at WDTN-TV,” said Joe Abouzeid, the station’s president and general manager. “The station was under different management and ownership during that time. At WDTN and WBDT, we don’t tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind.”
Luckily for Julie Chen, she didn’t listen to the criticism. She is now host of the reality television show Big Brother as well as the CBS daytime show The Talk.