How Kelly Ripa Became One of the Most Powerful People in the Media

Kelly Ripa is the “smiling, petite ball of fire” who greets millions of Americans as they enjoy their first coffee of the day. This witty hostess is also a ballerina, soap opera actress, television producer and has even been inducted in New Jersey’s Hall of Fame. Yeah, this woman has a lot on her hands.

Photo by Globe Photos, Mediapunch, Shutterstock / Matt Baron, BEI, Shutterstock / Charles Sykes, Shutterstock / Mediapunch, Shutterstock / Dave Allocca, Starpix, Shutterstock / Globe Photos, Mediapunch, Shutterstock / Source: Instagram / Instagram

Let’s be honest, we’re all kind of obsessed with Kelly Ripa and her equally attractive husband, Mark. Lucky for us, she’s super candid about her personal life and posts jealousy-provoking pictures of her family on social media. But how much do we really know about her? And how did she go from being an anonymous young woman wandering around New York to one of America’s most recognized faces?

A Spunky Cheerleader from New Jersey

Kelly Maria Ripa was born on October 2, 1970, in Stradford, New Jersey. She grew up in Berlin with her sister, Linda, and parents, Esther and Joseph Ripa. Unlike many Hollywood stars, Kelly is actually the first one in her family to step foot in the world of acting and show business. Her mom was a housewife, and her dad served in the U.S. Army and is now the county clerk of Camden County.

Kelly Ripa as a young girl with her mother / Kelly Ripa as a cheerleader in high school
Source: Instagram / Yearbook Library

Kelly took drama classes as a teenager and was a spunky cheerleader in Voorhees Townships’s Eastern Regional High School. Her presence charmed the audience, and she was encouraged by her drama teacher to pursue acting. In an interview, Kelly even mentioned that she owes her career to him, “He thought I was a natural performer, and so he gave me the lead in the next show.”

Prima Ballerina

Before gracing our screens as a bubbly TV host, Kelly trained as a ballerina for 13 years. Thanks to her outstanding dancing skills, she was able to land her first-ever television appearance. Only 16-year-old at the time, Kelly became a regular in the 1986 show, Dancin’ on Air. Producers were impressed by her performance, and she was able to land a second gig on Dance Party USA.

Kelly Ripa posing with other dancers, Ryan Seacrest, and the man who watched over the world record being broken
Source: Instagram

She’s come a long way since those teen dance shows, but Kelly hasn’t forgotten her graceful ballerina roots. In 2019, 49-year-old Kelly reunited with her satin ballet shoes and hopped lightly on pointe for the camera. She joined over 300 ballet dancers to successfully break the world record for most people on pointe!

She Dropped Out of College to Move to New York

18-year-old Kelly briefly attended Camden County College where she studied psychology, but she eventually dropped out. Her real love was performing, so she packed her bags and moved to New York to make a name for herself. She landed her first serious acting role in 1990 as bad girl Hayley Vaugh on ABC’s soap opera, All My Children.

Kelly Ripa posing in a promotional shot for All my Children
Source: / Copyright: ABC

Kelly played the role for 11 years and claims that she’s forever grateful to the show. In an interview for Variety she stated, “The training ground that All My Children provided me was second to none. It taught professionalism.” The show didn’t only affect her professional life, but it completely changed the course of her personal life as well. On the set of her first big role on TV, Kelly met her husband, Mark Consuelos.

Mark Didn’t Think He Stood a Chance with Kelly

In 1995, Kelly was already an established cast member on the show and Mark was just beginning his journey as her fictional love interest, Mateo Santos. On seeing her, Mark stated, “I thought she was adorable, hot and sexy and all that stuff, but I was very focused — I didn’t really think I had a chance with her, so I wasn’t really focused on that.”

Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa in a scene from All my Children
Source: / Copyright: ABC

They started out as on-screen lovers, but it didn’t take long before the two were head over heels for each other. Kelly told Elle Magazine that she immediately felt safe and comfortable around him, “I was drawn to Mark because he was positively an alpha male, and I didn’t think I would be drawn to that. But I just worship him.”

A Romantic Stalk in the Park and a Proposal

A year into their relationship, the couple fought over something (surely neither of them can remember today what it was) and they broke up for about a week. Kelly gave Mark the silent treatment and it drove him absolutely crazy. How crazy? In Mark’s words, “I followed her into Central Park. I stalked her, and then we went back to my place and got married the next day.”

Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos 1999 / Kelly and Mark getting close on the red carpet in 2005
Photo by Globe Photosm Mediapunch, Shutterstock / Carolyn Contino, BEI, Shutterstock

That’s right, Mark Consuelos proposed over wine and pizza at his apartment. Kelly was a little skeptical at first and said, “Ask me when you’re serious,” to which he answered, “I am serious. Let’s go to Vegas tomorrow and get married’.” So, in 1996, the two young lovers found themselves in Sin City tying the knot for good. Impulsive? Yes. Was it a good idea? Yes, the two have been married for nearly 25 years.

Both Mark and Kelly Quit Drinking

Despite never being a heavy drinker, Kelly decided it would be a fun challenge to lay off the alcohol for a month. But by the end of the challenge, it had completely transformed her life. “I just didn’t really feel the need or desire to go back to it,” Kelly admitted to People magazine, “It wasn’t really a choice or a thought, it was just, ‘Yeah, I guess I don’t drink anymore.'”

Photo by Andrew H Walker, BEI, Shutterstock / Ace Pictures, Shutterstock

Mark has also joined his wife on her quest for a healthier lifestyle and the two have been alcohol free for more than three years. But Kelly’s transition into a cleaner lifestyle hasn’t always been as smooth. For example, it was a lot harder for her to give up cigarettes, even though everyone encouraged her to ditch smoking, which, funny enough, is exactly the opposite with alcohol – people are usually confused by her decision to quit.

She Would Love Nothing More Than to Have Pizza Every Day

It seriously takes only one glance at Kelly’s fit body to understand just how much discipline and effort she puts into her diet and exercise routine. Kelly told people, “So much of my life has been devoted to having the perfect diet, having excellent nutrition, having a fitness routine I can get behind and practice every day, and I do, I exercise seven days a week. I rarely have a cheat day, diet-wise.”

Kelly being held upside down on Mark’s feet in a yoga pose
Source: Instagram / @kellyripa

Her dinners are usually light and packed with vegetables. But it’s not always as strict at the Consuelos’ household. According to Kelly, “On Sunday, it’s a full hot breakfast. They’re not fat-free, but they’re delicious.” Food is delicious, and Kelly admits that she would love nothing more than pizza and fries every day. But she knows how to nurture her body properly, and it shows.

An Awkward 18th Birthday

Kelly and Mark have always had amazing chemistry between them, and after 25 years, the passion is still there. Just ask their daughter, Lola, who on her 18th birthday opened the door to her parent’s bedroom and caught them while they were in the act! The startled teenager immediately slammed the door and cried, “You just ruined my birthday and my life!”

Kelly Ripa and Lola Consuelos on the red carpet in 2019
Photo by MediaPunch / Shutterstock

Talk about an awkward 18th birthday gift. Lola’s brothers, Michael and Joaquin, have also been through similar incidents. Clearly, something has got to change around the house. Kids – knock. Parents – lock. But jokes aside, it’s pretty amazing how passionate the couple is about each other. Their secret? “We try to do spicy things together all the time.”

A Live Confession

So, how did a young soap opera actress become such a well-known talk show host? She began as a guest on Kathie Lee and Regis’s Live show where Regis described her as a “a natural, quick-witted, unaffected, confident, fun-loving kind of sparkle.” So, when Kathie Lee left the show in 2000, producers knew exactly who should replace her.

Kelly hugging the psychic on the episode
Source: YouTube

Kelly was invited on set to fill in for someone trying out, and the guest that day caught her totally off guard. He was a Los Angeles psychic named Char Margolis, and he asked her questions about her late grandmother. At one point he said, “She’s going to watch over you when this new baby comes.” Kelly froze and Regis jumped in, “Are you expecting?” She nervously giggled and answered, “I haven’t told my boss yet!” The whole event made the audience gasp and then laugh. As for Kelly? She got the job.

Without Kelly, Mark Would Have Married Numerous Times

On Kelly’s 49th birthday, Mark posted a series of adorable pictures of her throughout the years and thanked her for her patience and kindness. He halfheartedly joked about how complicated his life would have been if he had married another woman, “’Happy Birthday to my Fave. I’m really glad you were born, because let’s face it, if you weren’t, I would’ve been married 3 or 4 times by now.”

Kelly and Mark cozying up at a dinner
Source: Instagram / @kellyripa

He then added, “’Which would’ve been really expensive, not to mention the super tense parent teacher conferences and all the awkward, blended family holiday/vacations. Anyway, happy birthday sweetie.” Sticking together when both of you work in show business is unbelievably hard! No wonder Mark is grateful for his wife’s patience and understanding.

Mark and Kelly Have a Production Company

In 2007, Mark and Kelly began their own production company named Milojo. They combined the first two letters of their three kids: Michael, Lola and Joaquin, to create the perfect title for their company. Milojo has worked with numerous scriptwriters on several successful projects, including an Emmy-nominated documentary, The Streak.

Kelly and Mark with their kids
Source: Instagram / @kellyripa

Their newest project is extremely exciting for Kelly. They helped produce the upcoming Hulu series, Mexican Gothic, which is based on a best-selling thriller. A source let US magazine know that the moment Kelly put down the book, she knew she had to pursue the project. According to the insider, “Production has always been a big passion of hers.”

Her Wedding Dress Was a Worthy Investment

Kelly and Mark’s wedding was a spur of the moment decision – they fought, made up, and flew to Vegas. With no prior preparation, you’ve got to wonder, what about the dress? Surely, Kelly doesn’t need a fancy bridal gown to look good, because she stood by her husband with a $199 dress she bought five years earlier from the Barneys Warehouse Sale.

Mark and Kelly on their wedding day in vegas / Mark and Kelly posing together while she wears the dress she wore on their wedding day
Source: Instagram

24 years later, Kelly claims she wears it all the time, “I swear to you I wear it constantly. It’s a beach cover-up now. It was the best $199 I ever spent in my life.” She could literally wear baggy, old sweats to the aisle and still look stunning. No ring and no wedding dress, Kelly proves that a loving marriage has nothing to do with all the superficial details.

Her Parenting Secrets

Kelly and Mark have two sons, Michael and Joaquin, and one daughter, Lola. They’re a beautiful mixture of the couple’s Italian, Irish and Mexican heritage, and their pictures on social media as a family are the most adorable thing ever. But raising kids under the limelight is tough. How does Kelly keep the family grounded? “My sons are just as sensitive as my daughter, and my daughter is as strong as my sons.”

Kelly and Mark with their children in the pool
Source: Instagram / @kellyripa

The couple claims that their parenting style is pretty old-school. In an interview for Vanity Fair, Kelly Ripa confessed, “There is only one computer in the entire house for the family to share. The computer is just for homework.” They even limited their kid’s TV time, because watching it during the week interfered with schoolwork. We’re impressed.

She Is Worth $120 Million

The Consuelos household is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. They purchased the beautiful penthouse for $27 million from designer Luca Orlandi and his wife, Oluchi Onweagba. The family’s social media is packed with pictures of their cozy home and you can tell how much Kelly enjoys spending time indoors. With two fireplaces, six bathrooms, an elevator, and a gorgeous rooftop garden, we wouldn’t want to leave the house either.

Photo by Rob Latour, Shutterstock / Matt Baron, Shutterstock

But despite having the perfect house, the couple’s kids are growing independent and slowly leaving the nest (hard to believe someone would want to move out of that house but oh well). Kelly confessed to US weekly, “In the blink of an eye, your kids grow up and suddenly you are begging them to spend time with you.” Kelly, we don’t mind moving in instead!

Kelly Ripa makes a whopping $20 million a year just from hosting Live! We’re assuming she might have other sources of income like social media and different campaigns so it’s no wonder that throughout the years she’s amassed a lot of dough and is currently worth $120 million. Her husband, Mark, is worth $40 million. So, as you can see, the Consuelos are perfectly fine. Which is probably why people got annoyed over Kelly’s comment about her son whose “living in “extreme poverty” in Brooklyn now that he has to pay his own rent.

Kelly Fights for Causes She Believes In

Kelly is an active participant in the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She feels personally connected to the cause because her younger sister, Linda, was hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light. Linda was eight months pregnant at the time so the whole incident was extremely traumatic. Luckily, both her and the baby survived but not without a few weeks of struggling for their lives.

Kelly Ripa as a little girl with her mother and sister
Source: Instagram / @kellyripa

Linda’s baby, Sergio, was dubbed a “miracle baby” because it was truly unbelievable that he survived such a hit. Born seven weeks premature, the miracle baby endured four weeks in a coma. On her end, Linda shattered multiple bones and broke her pelvis. Kelly stood by her sister through those nightmarish weeks and since then has been fully committed to MADD. She even served in 2001 as national chair for their Tie One on for safety campaign.

She’s a Record Breaker

Kelly Ripa loves a good challenge, and she has broken some ridiculously funny world records. In 2006, as a part of a Guinness World Record Breaker theme week on Live with Regis and Kelly, she and actor Wilmer Valderrama set a new record after Kelly tossed 24 pies into the actor’s mouth in one minute!

Kelly and Andersoon Cooper with their certificate next to the guy who watches the world record being broken
Source: YouTube

The ridiculous records don’t end there. In 2010, Kelly, along with her co-host Anderson Cooper and 378 more participants, broke the record for Largest Human Mattress Dominoes and in 2018, Kelly and Ryan Seacrest set a new record when they made the largest elephant’s toothpaste fountain. We’re not quite sure what that means, all we know is that there was a lot of foam that day in the studio.

Inducted into New Jersey’s Hall of Fame

Kelly has made her home state of New Jersey extremely proud! Her hometown inducted her into their Hall of Fame in 2016 and gave her the Performing Arts Award for her great contribution to entertainment. Kelly’s proud father invited her on to the stage to present her speech and she made it clear that the best part of the evening was being there with her family and friends.

Kelly Ripa with her parents Esther and Joseph on the red carpet
Photo by Jim Smeal / Shutterstock

“I really am thrilled that I got to share the night with my parents and my children. I’m only sorry my husband isn’t here – he’s working, but it’s nice to have all of my family and so many friends here.” Kelly is proud of New Jersey just as much as they are of her. She ended the speech with: “Being from New Jersey is not just where you were born. It’s a state of mind.”

She Encourages Women to Know Their Bodies

Kelly has devoted herself to another important cause that hits close to home. Kelly’s childhood friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was only in her 30s, and sadly, she lost the battle. Devastated, Kelly felt a strong need to educate herself on the subject and since then has been contributing to The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Kelly Ripa standing in a lemonade stand
Virtual Lemonade stand campaign to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Photo by Gregory Pace / BEI / Shutterstock

She has hosted several fundraisers and finds it extremely important to raise people’s awareness of the disease. In an interview with Glamour, Kelly explained that it’s easy to confuse symptoms of the disease with PMS or indigestion, so doctors tend to easily dismiss it. She encouraged women to “know their body” and insist on sonograms if they feel that something isn’t right.

She Is a Light Sleeper

Kelly has been as described as a “smiling, petite ball of fire,” with an energy so contagious, it’s hard not to wake up when you see her. You would think she ends her days passed out by 21:00 p.m. and gets at least 10 hours of sleep. But Kelly told Good Housekeeping that her energy levels persist all through the night.

Kelly Ripa sitting on her larch balcony at a long set dinner table
Source: Instagram / @instasuelos

“I typically go to bed at 1:00 a.m. Then I wake up around 3:30 for some reason.” Afterwards, “I’ll check my e-mail. I have a friend who’s an insomniac, so there’s usually an e-mail from her that I’ll respond to. Once I do that, I’m in trouble, because she could respond, and then we’re communicating in the middle of the night. I turn on the TV and try to find an infomercial that is very repetitive to put me to sleep. Then I usually get up around 6:00 A.M.”

When Kelly Became Mark’s Mistress

There’s nothing like some steamy roleplay to spice things up the bedroom. Surely, Mark was beyond pleased to hear that his wife would be playing Mrs. Mulwray, his onscreen mistress on Riverdale. The idea came from the show’s producer, Roberto Aguiree-Sacasa and Kelly could not have been more shocked. When Mark delivered the news, Kelly cried, “Your mistress?!”

Kelly Ripa sitting in a leather armchair holding a whip
Source: Instagram

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Kelly dished that she instantly started dropping names of different actresses who would fit the part because according to her, “I’ve never considered myself mistress material.” Mark could not agree less. He responded with, “Oh Sweetie, you’re definitely mistress material.” Nearly two decades after they fell in love on the set of All My Children, Hayley and Mateo met again.

Kelly’s Son Caught the Acting Bug

Michael Joseph Consuelos is the couple’s oldest son and was born a year after they eloped to Vegas. He is 22 years old and can basically pass off as his dad’s doppleganger only with Kelly’s blue eyes. But the similarity between him and his parents doesn’t end with his appearance; he inherited their talent as well.

Michael Joseph Consuelos as the younger Mark in Riverdale / Mark Consuelos on the red carpet
Source: The CW / Photo by Gregory Pace, BEI, Shutterstock

After finishing high school, he attended NYU and majored in film and production. Like his parents, he loves to perform and is currently working on building his acting portfolio. He has appeared on his mom’s Live show several times and was even casted as the young version of his dad on Riverdale! We can’t wait to see what this young Consuelo has in store for us.

She Has Three Tattoos

The Live show host has a total of three tattoos – one on her ankle, one on her back, and one on her wrist. She deemed the one on her ankle as a “stupid decision of youth” that she got when she was 19-years-old and had two hours to kill. The one on her lower back, on the other hand, is a tattoo she “would rather not talk about.”

Kelly Ripa posing in a NASA Halloween outfit with her left arm out and tattoo showing
Photo by Broadimage / Shutterstock

Conclusion? Better think twice before inking your body. At least Kelly is at peace with her “Consuelos” wrist tattoo. She got it done at David Tattoo in Brooklyn when she and Mark had been married for 13 years. Some would say that tattooing your spouse’s name is impulsive and risky, but the couple are still standing strong after nearly 25 years.

Constant Rumors About an Imminent Divorce

Fake news spreads quick. It’s one of the easiest ways for the media to make money off of its viewers, and the Consuelos couple are no strangers to this type of cheap tactic. Ever since their marriage in 1996, they have had to deal with endless rumors about a divorce and numerous cheating scandals.

Kelly and Mark in a convertible while on their honeymoon in 1996
Source: Instagram / @instasuelos

When National Enquirer released a statement claiming the couple was heading for a divorce, Kelly’s spokesperson let People magazine know that “Their marriage continues to be quite healthy, and the National Enquirer should be ashamed for fabricating such an untruthful story.”

Kelly’s Co Workers Called Her a Diva

When NFL star Michael Strahan announced he was leaving Live in 2006, Ripa felt betrayed. She was upset that he had kept her in the dark about his sudden departure and apparently had a “total meltdown.” She didn’t come to work for a few days after the announcement and some of her costars weren’t so forgiving. They thought her diva-like behavior was completely inappropriate.

Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan on the red carpet together
Photo by Gregory Pace / BEI / Shutterstock

Kelly’s former friend, Howard Stern, didn’t hold back after hearing about her behavior. He said on his show, “You have to figure out how to get back on air even if your boss is f**king you!” He then added, “If I felt comfortable calling her, I would have said, ‘Take a breath. Go into work.’ When it comes to work, you can’t punish the audience and you can’t walk off work.”

Kelly and Strahan Didn’t Always Get Along

After his abrupt departure, rumors started flying about a vicious feud going on between these costars. An insider let Page Six know that “The pair didn’t get along. It was all for the show. They could not stand each other, and whenever they communicated off-camera, it was always through their reps.” Some say Strahan was the one who would have temper tantrums and yell at Kelly and some claim otherwise.

Kelly and Michael Strahan dressed up for Halloween on the red carpet
Photo by Mediapunch / Shutterstock

In an interview with The New York Times, Straham tried to set the record straight, “If people think, ‘Oh, he hates her’ – I don’t hate her. I do respect her for what she can do at her job. I cannot say enough about how good she is at her job.” He claims he has learned a lot from Kelly and doesn’t regret working with her.

Kelly and Ryan Seacrest Have Developed an Amazing Friendship

After Strahan’s exit in 2017, Ryan Seacrest became Kelly’s new sidekick. The years have proven to be successful for the duo and they claim to have developed a profound and loving friendship. Kelly gushed over her co-worker on Fox News, “Working with your friends is a great privilege. It is a joy, and I have to say that it is a rare thing to work with a guy who is so authentic and fun and joyful and humble and generous and kind to everyone.”

Ryan and Kelly in front of a 30th Anniversary Cake on the set of Live with Kelly and Ryan
Source: Instagram / @kellyripa

Seacrest’s reaction was as emotional as ever, “I’m using every ounce of energy to fight back tears right now, while she’s saying that.” Even though they host a television show, their time together is a lot more than some screen time. Ryan mentioned, “We come in and we literally have our first cup of coffee together and catch up with each other as friends do, and that’s the dynamic we hope we have with people who are watching as well.”

While Kelly Is an Insomniac, Mark Is as Drowsy as It Gets

Mark’s sleepiness is so serious that Kelly even diagnosed him with “Marcolepsy.” She claims that her husband falls asleep constantly. Every time they watch a movie, when they go on vacation, and at award shows (even when he’s nominated!). Mark’s funniest sleepy story is probably the one where he excused himself at a dinner party so he could drowse off in the bathroom.

Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos on the red carpet in 2020
Photo by John Salangsang / BEI / Shutterstock

The story goes like this. The couple was at a party held in her executive producer, Michael Gelman’s house. After some fun and mingling, Kelly realized she hadn’t seen her husband for a while and instantly panicked. She searched the house and when she approached the bathroom, she heard snores through the baby monitor. Sure enough, Mark was sleeping soundly on the restroom floor. Mark’s response: “The bathmat looked so cozy.”

Kelly’s Wedding Ring Is Her Most Cherished Possession

Ten years after the couple ran off to Vegas, Mark finally decided to put a ring on it. Kelly mentioned on Anna Faris’s podcast Unqualified that she never had an engagement ring because the wedding was so sudden. But on their 10th year anniversary, Mark decided that his wife deserves the shiniest rock of them all.

Kelly Ripa moving her hair out of her face on the red carpet in 2018
Photo by Mediapunch / Shutterstock

The ring has become Kelly’s most prized possession. In an interview with Elle she mentioned, “It must have been making him feel a certain way that I didn’t have a ring, so for our 10th anniversary we bought me a ring! I’m sure my kids will drag it from my dead body, but I will never part with it because it’s so special.”

Kelly Doesn’t Mind Mark’s Stripper Past

Meaty Mark Consuelos worked at some controversial jobs before becoming a successful actor. Straight out of college, Kelly’s husband started pole-dancing in order to make a living. He was looking to break into show business and wriggled his way into the limelight by showing off his incredible body. Kelly made it clear in a few interviews that she’s not at all ashamed of her husband’s past.

Kelly and Mark on the red carpet in 2001
Photo by Matt Baron / BEI / Shutterstock

Kelly informed Vanity Fair, “A lot of hot guys in Hollywood have done that.” She then added, “He is so unbelievably gorgeous, with a Mexican father, Italian mother born in Spain and raised in Italy. And, I will never give him up.” How do Kelly’s parents feel about the whole thing? According to Kelly, “my parents worship Mark.”