How YOU doin’, Wendy Williams? The talk show host, who’s the latest celebrity to be revealed on Fox’s “The Masked Singer,” tells Variety she’s relieved to finally share her secret with the world. (Scroll down to watch her unmasking.)
“My staff and crew at the ‘Wendy’ show here in New York, none of them know that I do this, so they won’t find out until it goes on today,” she said. “Look I’m the hot topics lady. I like knowing stuff. And now I know more about the ‘Masked Singer.’ I can’t wait to tell everybody what it was like, from keeping the secret to the costume.”
Williams, who kicked off the Group C round, performed in the Lips costume. The Lips disguise looked more manageable than some of the other getups on the show — but looks can be deceiving. “It wasn’t manageable,” she said. “It was actually as heavy as all the other costumes.”
Asked to rate her difficulty level, “On a scale from one to ten, a 12,” she said. “Because it was hot and heavy. And this is not something that I do normally…. I love to challenge myself, so that was great fun. Now I know exactly what these people go through behind the scenes. You get on the show, they outfit you in these costumes, they weigh like 50 pounds. You can barely walk, much less sing and dance!”
Williams said she was given a choice between being the Tree or being Lips, and she chose the Lips because not only of her talk background, but because ” the lips I thought was beautiful. And they’re made of thousands of crystals. And in two parts. One part goes over my head, and my head is actually inside I’m talking to you through the mask. Then there’s netting because they have to make it dark enough, and then my skin.
“They’re very particular about, ‘Well, Wendy, we still see that you’re a black woman in there.’ I said well what are you going to do. I had to wear something over my head inside like one of the fitted masks like a superhero, where the eyes are cut out, and the nose is cut out and the mouth is cut off, so I can talk and breathe and stuff. And then they put the costume on. The costume department helps me out a lot. There’s no such thing as vanity, they’ve seen it all.”
Williams performed “Native New Yorker” by Odyssey, which is one of her favorite songs; had she not been voted out, her next selection was going to be Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time.”
Williams began her performance with a spoken word shout out, which gave her identity away to both Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg and Nicole Scherzinger — the two panelists who correctly guessed her.
“You can wear a fabulous costume to disguise who you are, but there are some people that when you open your mouth, enough people know the cadence of your voice, or a little bit of what you’re about, they’re gonna be like, ‘Oh, that’s Wendy,’” she said. “During part of performing, I started laughing just because I can’t believe I’m on ‘The Masked Singer,’ I can’t believe I’m here on the stage, I can’t believe I’m wearing this beautiful costume. This is crazy.”
Ken Jeong went with Allison Janney, while Robin Thicke guessed Sandra Bernhardt.
New this season, the show’s panelists are also competing for a “Golden Ear” trophy based on their first impressions of each masked performer — and going into the episode, McCarthy Wahlberg, Thicke and Scherzinger have one point each, while Jeong so far has zero.
McCarthy Wahlberg and Scherzinger also guessed Williams first, so they each picked up another point.
Williams joins previously unmasked Season 4 contestants Mark Sanchez (Baby Alien), Brian Austin Green (Giraffe), Mickey Rourke (Gremlin) and Busta Rhymes (Dragon).
Here were the other contestants and their performances in week five, “The Group C Premiere: Masked But Not Least”:
Song: “Have You Ever See the Rain,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Strength: Arm wrestling
Weakness: Eye contact
Voice-over: “Good evening, my fellow Americans. I chose the Squiggly Monster because people always roll their eyes at me, but now I can roll all mine at them. I’m a patchwork of personas. A father figure and a scoundrel. A hyperactive voice of the people. A worrywort and a maniac. Oh look, salami. OK, I’ll stop talking in circles and just be direct. I’m no dumbo, but ladies let’s be honest, I’m easy on the eyes. Breaking news, tonight I’m bringing the squiggle juice. I can’t wait to have all eyes on me. Literally.”
Panel guesses: Ray Romano, Brad Garrett, Al Franken, Dr. Fauci
Song: “This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell (although really by Kate Bush, kind of lame that they credited it to Maxwell)
Strength: Morel support
Weakness: Music festivals
Voice-over: “How does a mushroom grow up to be a healer and a scholar? I started up underground. Young, scrappy and funky. I started out in the rat race, at a job that might surprise you. Them the world turned upside down, and I got my shot to turn a hobby into a career. At first the suits didn’t understand me. I kept growing and grinding until someone said yes to this. And finally I got to be in the shroom where it happens. Now I’m able to rise up and let others grow. It may have been a broken road to get here, but it means the world to share my story on this stage.”
Panel guesses: Donald Glover, Usher, Frank Ocean
Song: “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” by Fergie
Strength: Total transparency
Weakness: Big head
Voice-over: “Hey guys, it’s me, Jellyfish! Follow me as I dive into my own fairy tale. Once upon a time I reigned supreme over an entire underwater kingdom. But after running from coast to coast for so long, my castle started feeling like a gilded cage. So it was time for this princess to journey into the real world, and finally experience all the cool fun things I missed out on. Like making friends, going to parties and just being free. So being here, I’m going with the flow as I carve my way through this new adventure. While being on dry land is a little scary, I’m hoping I can still make a splash on this stage.”
Panel guesses: Gabby Douglas, Chloe Grace Moretz, Awkwafina, Sofia Richie
Song: “House Is Rockin’”/”Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jerry Lee Lewis
Strength: Vitamin packed
Weakness: Easily steamed
Voice-over: “Here’s Broccoli baby! Let’s do my new dance challenge, the Brocco-lean. First you snap, and brocco-lean back! A contest greased the wheels for my career. And now I’m so humbled to work with the biggest artists stacking up my cheese. It ain’t easy being a kid performing with the OGs. But performing is my passion. And while I’ve been on many stages, I can honestly say none have excited me more than this one. Tonight I’m singing a tribute to the greats. I know I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but I’m ready. Brocc on!”
Panel guesses: Bill Murray, Howie Mandel, Steve Guttenberg
Watch Williams’ unmasking below: