Rise to Fame, Fall from Grace
Before Julie Chen Moonves started talking about faith and forgiveness, she was an innocent dreamer. “I loved doing hair. I wanted to be a hairdresser,” Chen Moonves tells Tinseltown Mom. “Like 6thgrade, 7th grade, all the girls would line up during P.E. and they’d sit on the floor, and I would French braid their hair. I liked the artistry, and found it very meditative. I liked making people feel good about how they looked,” the journalist continues.
As an Asian minority living in Queens, New York, Chen Moonves faced her share of discrimination. And although she was called racial slurs and ostracized because of the color of her skin, that didn’t diminish her drive to succeed and, later, her affinity toward journalism. “My mom planted that seed in my head probably when I was in junior high school and it was because we saw an Asian broadcaster, female, anchoring the local news in New York City. And you didn’t see a lot of Asian faces, at all, in the media. So, when my mom saw that she said, ‘that is what you should do…’”
The journalist went on to have a respectable career as a news reporter, weekend anchor, producer, and national network morning show anchor. In 2000, she then landed her longstanding hosting gig on the American television reality show Big Brother. She began co-hosting and moderating The Talk in 2010, but in 2018 her world turned upside down.
The veteran host came face to face with public shame that rocked her once fairytale life. When sexual harassment claims resurfaced against her husband, Les Moonves, former CEO of CBS, life as she loved it forever changed. As a result, she was forced out of The Talk.
Chen Moonves gave a pre-recorded farewell speech citing family as a motive for her leaving. Her Talk co-workers looked on with tear-filled eyes. “I actually knew before I stepped down, but when I gave my public statement, I wasn’t going to say that… It was true that I needed to spend more time with my young son and my husband, but that wasn’t the reason that I stepped down. I stepped down because two of my former co-hosts said they wouldn’t do the show if I was still there.” Chen Moonves reveals.
Faith Arise, Family Ties
Since losing her job on The Talk and the increased public scrutiny on her family, The Big Brother host has been on an intentional spiritual journey. She has since become a Christian. And, as many can attest to, a newfound faith could cause division in a family with different beliefs. “My husband is Jewish, but as my husband will describe himself, he’s culturally Jewish. He’s not religious. But he was 100% supportive. He’s never said no to me about anything. He’s always on board…” the hands-on mom unveils.
When her son Charlie was asked to go to church with her, he was initially hesitant. So, the star asked her husband to do her a favor and come to church so they all could go. “We get in the church, and we sing the first hymn, and my husband is singing louder than anybody else in that church…” Chen Moonves reflects. “That sermon was almost like it was custom written for me and my family and it really resonated for my husband, and he started to go to church with us. I wouldn’t say he is quite a Jesus person yet…” she continues.
Losing Fame, Finding Forgiveness
Chen Moonves is a “Jesus person” so with that proclamation comes transformation. She talks extensively about this in her new audiobook, But First, God: An Audio Memoir of Spiritual Discovery. “Old Julie” was very prideful, judgy and egocentric. And although she attests to this being an ongoing journey, she’s not who she once was. She lost a job she loved, but she gained a relationship with God. The host can now see how all the chaos worked out for her good.
Since the author has grown in her faith, forgiveness was a necessary step in her evolution. After being forced to step down from The Talk, the journalist has been intentional about forgiving people from her past, including the two colleagues she felt betrayed her: “One person I actually reached out to. And it wasn’t so much in me saying those words, ‘I forgive you,’ because they weren’t asking for my forgiveness… But it was me remembering all the good times with this person…” she reflects. After a celebratory moment in the news concerning her former coworker, Chen Moonves reached out to congratulate her. “She’s always been very charming, and she said, ‘we need to sit down and have a proper cup of tea together.’ That was me having to do something to really seal it for me for it to feel real and also let that person know that if my heart can soften towards her then wherever she is hard hearted towards me, maybe I could soften that…”
As for the other colleague… “Our children went to school together. And we went to the same piano teacher. So, I would see this person at recitals. At the beginning, when the forgiveness wasn’t there, it was civility. And then, when there was forgiveness there it was with warmth and humor and love and a very inviting attitude from me to engage in conversation and catch up.”
“If you don’t have forgiveness in your heart… You’re not hurting that other person, you’re hurting your own soul, your own energy. And it is detracting from so much positivity and good space and love from your life….” the television personality says.
Grace Under Pressure, Family Forever
Chen Moonves will attest that her faith has caused her to become a better person, even a better wife and mom. “I got married later in life. I was almost 35. And when I got married, I said, ‘this is my first, only, and last marriage.’ And my husband and I… We don’t argue… Our ears and hearts are always open to hearing the other person. And if there is a misunderstanding, whoever is the one being impatient or wrong will always own it. But [since] becoming a Christian… when my husband and I pray before going to sleep, holding hands praying, wow, the energy is so different. I not only feel it, but I can feel his energy shift. It’s such a beautiful way to unite as a couple,” she reflects.
And even in motherhood, the power of her conversion has been felt. “Before I have a family meeting and, it’s usually about a report card or some sort of behavior that is unacceptable, I will openly pray. The power and privilege of prayer will change the whole trajectory of the meeting that was about to happen. So, I have prayed as a family, usually it’s just me doing the praying… And this is not about getting you in trouble or making you feel bad, reprimanding you. It’s about an opportunity for growth. And he hears me say, ‘God please guide my words, and please give me your wisdom and your strength to communicate this message with love. And please let Charlie know my intention. Please give him your ears to hear what I’m trying to say and open his heart to it.’ It’s a peaceful discussion. It’s not uncomfortable.”
“That’s tangible proof of how Christianity works in my life… some people say, ‘Julie got super religious.’ It’s not about religion,” Chen Moonves clarifies. “Religion is about following rules. Christianity is about having a personal relationship with God.”
For more on Julie Chen Moonves, or to purchase her audiobook, But First, God: An Audio Memoir of Spiritual Discovery, CLICK HERE.