Kelly Ripa Recalls Being Put in 'Janitor's Closet' and Denied an Office During First Years Co-Hosting 'Live'

The longtime co-host opens up her difficult early years on 'Live' and if she has a timeline for how much longer she'll stay.

Kelly Ripa is opening up about her difficult early years at Live.

The longtime co-host of the daytime talk show graces one of five Power of Women covers for Variety, where she reflected on Live, which she joined in 2001. According to Ripa, 52, her early days at the show were not easy. For one, she claimed she didn't have a permanent office at the studio, even though she had already been co-hosting the show with the late Regis Philbin for several years.

"It was the strangest experience I've ever had in my life," she tells Variety. "I was told that I couldn't have an office. It didn't make a whole lot of sense, especially because there were empty offices that I could have easily occupied."

Instead, she allegedly set up shop in an empty janitor's closet after her fourth year on the show. "They finally cleaned out the closet and put a desk in there for me," Ripa recalls. "And so I was working in the janitor's closet with a desk so that I could have a place to put things."

She and Philbin co-hosted together for a decade before he departed in 2011. Even after his exit, Ripa told the publication she was still denied a real office. "They said, ‘Oh, no, we’re saving that.’ And I said, ‘Saving it for what?’ And they go, ‘Well, for when the new guy comes.' And I looked at them, and I said, ‘I am the new guy. I just moved my things. I forced my way into the office because I couldn’t understand how I would still be in the janitor’s closet and somebody new would come in and get the office," she shares.

Ripa also got real about not having her own private bathroom during her early Live years, recalling having to line up with audience members in order to use the facilities. "Particularly when I was pregnant, it was extraordinarily exhausting to have to wait in line," she says. "I have to host the show and I'm still waiting in line to use the bathroom. It just seemed, you know, a very needlessly difficult situation."

Ripa admitted had she known how "difficult" things would be behind the scenes, she doesn't think she "would have gone for [the co-hosting job]." "I just think my ignorance in that situation wound up being my blessing and my superpower. I did not have an easy time," she says. 

She also spoke about finally being paid fairly once her Live contract was up and producers realized she had the power to leave.

“I don’t think they wanted to pay me. I think they had to pay me," Ripa explains, adding that her husband, Mark Consuelos, was always "paid far more than [she] was," especially during their All My Children days. "I was trying to walk out the door and close it behind me. And I think they really figured out rapidly that they had screwed up in a major way, and it was not a good look. I think that was really the impetus behind paying me fairly. They had no choice.”

Added Ripa of earning more than her husband, who will now join her at the Live desk after Ryan Seacrest departs in April: "It wasn't until I got what we call my 'fancy job' that I started actually earning more money than him. We have been together so long that it's always been collective money. We are very much old-fashioned in that sense."

As for what the future holds for Live, Ripa -- who has been the constant for more than two decades -- sees a future where the show will, at some point, be led by younger talent. "I don't want to put a timeline on it but I do believe there is a great opportunity to get two younger people and start training them because I like seamless transitions," she says. "However long it takes to get two people up and ready is how long we'll be there."