The 43-year-old Chinese-American, who has been married to CBS CEO Les Moonves since 2004, admitted to viewers that as a young reporter in Ohio, she was told that she could never sit at the anchor desk “because you’re Chinese.”
While all “Talk” co-hosts are revealing secrets on the show this week, Chen came clean about her plastic surgery and the discriminatory reasoning behind it:
My secret dates back to — my heart is racing — it dates back to when I was 25 years old and I was working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio. I asked my news director [if] over the holidays, if anchors want to take vacations, could I fill in? And he said, ‘You will never be on this anchor desk, because you’re Chinese.’
He said, ‘Let’s face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton? On top of that, because of your Asian eyes, I’ve noticed that when you’re on camera, you look disinterested and bored.’
But the sentiment didn’t change when Chen went elsewhere.
Fast forward, I’m like, I need to get another job — if I can — so I start meeting with agents for career advice. This one big-time agent basically told me the same thing. He said, ‘I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look bigger.’
Ultimately, with the support of her parents behind her, Chen underwent the surgery with “the one doctor in Los Angeles known for it.”
The surgery is not uncommon for Asians wanting to look more Caucasian.
Chen admitted that “after I had that done, the ball did roll for me” career-wise and she says, “it got me to where we are today. And I’m not going to look back.”
Today, Chen is very open about her past surgery.
“I want to show you a side by side of how dramatic the surgery really was,” she said on Wednesday’s show. “If you look at the after, the eyes are bigger, I look more alert, more expressive.”
Check out the before and after below:
This isn’t the first time Chen has bared all. Last September, she — along with her “Talk” co-hosts — revealed what they look like with zero makeup:
Watch Chen tell her surgery story in her own words:
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.