Tonight’s premiere of Celebrity Big Brother marks the 22nd season of the franchise that host Julie Chen has been a part of. Wife of the recently ousted former CBS CEO Les Moonves, Chen officially left her post at the network’s daytime show The Talk but has maintained her status as Big Brother‘s reigning queen.
The journalist, host, and reality TV veteran has a net worth of $16 million. Ahead of the second celebrity edition of CBS’s mainstay reality series, here are five fast facts you need to know about Chen.
1. Chen Has Worked for CBS for Almost 20 Years
Prior to her work on Big Brother and The Talk, Chen worked on the now-defunct CBS program, The Early Show in multiple roles. From 2002 to 2010, she served as co-anchor and from 2010 to 2011 she worked as a Special Contributing Anchor.
During her two decades at the network, Chen has interviewed everyone from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to actors such as Tom Hanks and Angelina Jolie. She also spent time as a foreign correspondent in Kuwait and Qatar during the Iraq War.
Chen got her national start as the anchor of CBS Morning News in 1999. During a three year stretch until 2002, she also worked on CBS This Morning. Before going national, Chen worked at WCBS-TV, a CBS station in New York, from 1997-1999.
2. In 2014, Chen and Her Husband Les Moonves Bought a Beachfront Malibu Estate for $28 Million
The couple purchased the beachfront Malibu estate from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for $28.8 million, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
The five-bedroom, seven-bathroom house boasts 5,794 square feet on Carbon Beach and is right next to the John Lautner house previously owned by Courteney Cox and David Arquette, according to Trulia. Chen and Moonves’s former crib was a slightly smaller three-bedroom, four-bathroom house on La Costa Beach. Moonves also owns a condo in Pacific Palisades and a mansion in Beverly Hills.
3. Chen’s Husband Les Moonves Has a Net Worth of $700 Million
Moonves also had a career as an actor playing small roles on the television shows Cannon and The Six Million Dollar Man. He also held a post as one of casting director Caro Jones’ first office assistants very early in her career. On April 7, 2003, Moonves returned to the small screen playing himself in an episode of The Practice.
With his salary increases between 2010 and 2017, Moonves secured himself as the highest paid Hollywood executive in the world. It was recently reported that after being forced out of his position as CEO and Chairman of CBS, the board of directors came to the decision to not give him any of the $120 million settlement he was promised in his employment contract.
4. Throughout Her Career, Chen Has Faced Much Adversity Due to Her Chinese Heritage
Before she started her two-decade-long career with CBS, Chen was a reporter for WDTN-TV, a Dayton, Ohio news station. During an episode of The Talk in 2013, she said her boss told her: “You will never be on this anchor desk because you’re Chinese…Let’s face it, Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton?”
Her boss added: “On top of that, because of your heritage, because of your Asian eyes, sometimes I’ve noticed when you’re on camera and you’re interviewing someone, you look disinterested, you look bored.”
Chen also recalled an agent telling her he wouldn’t represent her unless she had plastic surgery on her eyes. Partly due to comments from her boss and pressure from the agent, Chen underwent plastic surgery to make her eyes appear larger. Before the surgery, Chen had multiple conversations with her family, asking them if the surgery would be seen as a denial of her heritage. In the clip above, she recalled how certain family members said they would disown her if she had the operation.
Even when she first got to CBS, she found that she was getting paid less than other general assignment reporters at WCBS-TV. She told Buzzfeed that she remembered her boss telling her: “You’re lucky we’re giving you this shot.”
“My whole life I’ve been told, ‘No. No. No. No. No. You can’t do this. Okay, maybe we’ll let you slide in here but don’t expect to be treated equally to the others,’” she told Buzzfeed.
5. Chen and Moonves Have Been Married for Almost 15 Years
Chen and Moonves were married in 2004 in a private ceremony just weeks after his divorce from Nancy Moonves, his wife of 25 years. The TV host married the executive in Acapulco, Mexico on December 23, 2004. Chen gave birth to their first child, Charlie, on September 24, 2009. She is also the stepmother to Moonves’ three children from his previous marriage.
While it’s uncertain whether Chen will stick around to host this summer’s edition of Big Brother, she will host Season 2 of Celebrity Big Brother premiering tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET.