I have always asked myself, when thinking about my life and career, What is your highest and best use? It’s a question I think everyone should consider. You don’t need to be on TV to make a difference, to change hearts and minds. Today my highest and best use? It’s sitting at The View table having my say.
“When you are giving your view, you lose half the audience. Some will hate you; some will love you. But that’s the job,” Joy Behar, one of my cohosts, once told me. “And it’s an important, powerful platform. Even if you were Susie Sweetheart, someone would hate you.” Then she quipped, “Hell, I would hate you if you were like that. Sunny, be bold.”
Being bold five days a week on live television has been an interesting journey.
Just like 2 to 3 million other fans, I used to watch The View from my couch.
I never imagined that I would one day be there giving my perspective about any and everything. We weigh in on health care, Black Lives Matter and the pro-choice and pro-life debate. Then there are Bill O’Reilly’s and Eric Bolling’s disparaging remarks about Maxine Waters (oh, no they didn’t!), the very real possibility that Russia influenced our presidential election and attacked our democracy (oh, yes they likely did!) and sexual harassment claims at Fox News. My Catholic faith, parenting style and whether kids are having sex in middle school (yikes) have all come up for discussion.
While this may sound odd, I am supremely uncomfortable talking about myself, my family, my beliefs. I’m certain that is why I spent the majority of my career telling other people’s stories. As a federal prosecutor, I recounted the tragedy of children who were
victimized by those who were supposed to protect them. As a journalist, I focus on social justice issues so that I can give details on the underreported news of missing Black D.C. girls and the lives of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland and countless others who, but for my voice, might have been overlooked.
I seriously considered going back to the practice of law before accepting the job at The View. Despite how nervous
I still get on set—my heart beats fast, my palms are sweaty, my Spanx feel tight—I’m glad I made the right decision.
During our commercial breaks, we answer questions from the studio audience. I usually either get asked about legal issues or about how and why I made the switch from law to cohosting the program. To be honest, I have a much easier time answering the legal questions. One day an older African-American woman held the microphone and did the unexpected. Rather than ask a question, she made a comment: “Sunny, I love you and what you stand for. Thank you for being here, being my voice. I feel good knowing my daughter can turn on the television and see someone who looks like her, someone who she can look up to as a role model.”
After the commercial break, Whoopi Goldberg introduced the next hot topic. As I took a sip from my mug, I looked at the back and it read, “I had this idea for a show. Different women. Different points of view. Maybe a little too different. We call it The View. Barbara Walters, August 11, 1997.” I took a moment to let it soak in. I was sitting at the table Barbara built. This talk show is an institution, and on a daily basis I get
to give my views. I surprise some, I disappoint some and I anger some. The hate mail, tweets and posts come fast and furious. The Twitter thugs with the keyboard courage are busy most days attacking me. And some days it’s hard.
But regardless of how hard it is, using your voice can be effective.
We saw people use their voices to start a movement called Black Lives Matter. We saw women all around our country use their voices at the Women’s March to tell this administration that we are here, a collective, and we will be taken seriously. We saw citizens use their voices to make sure that their representatives knew they wanted to keep their health care—and they did. Those people, ordinary citizens, without a platform, strengthen me, and like that woman in the audience and her daughter, support me using my voice every day.
I’m happy to share how much their strength means and how much I support them.