Return to Loni Love

Loni Love on Returning to ‘The Real,’ A Brand-New Docu Series and Her Foray into Game Show Hosting

The comedienne returns to TV in a big way, and come January hosts an Ellen-produced game show


Loni Love has a lot to share. This month, the former Chelsea Lately panelist and current co-host of daytime talk show The Real—which on Sept. 14 returned for its second season, airing on both FOX and BET—will be the focal point of the upcoming documentary series Being Loni Love, set to premiere Sept. 26 on the Centric Channel. As if those weren’t enough to sate her die-hard fans, the fall TV offerings are merely a soupçon for the comedienne’s next big endeavor—hosting a game show produced by one of America’s most prominent funny ladies, Ellen DeGeneres, come January.

This recent abundance of projects stems from Love’s ability to maintain significant relationships with her peers in the entertainment industry—a characteristic she discovered while shooting the documentary.

“I didn’t realize how many people I had worked with,” reflects Love, 44. “I take it for granted that I had projects, but when it came to the point of, ‘oh well, you can you have speak for you and get their opinions about you,’ I had this really long list. I’ve been doing this for so long. Even doing the talk show—the guests we are getting now, I’ve worked with them in the past. And these people had a lot of nice things to say about me. I didn’t realize I had made an impact like that. I was most surprised about that.”

Being Loni Love traces the entertainer’s roots as a latchkey kid growing up in Detroit’s Brewster-Douglas Housing Projects—one who would eventually mature into a professional engineer. After an eight-year on stint with Xerox, Love evidenced her characteristic fondness for others when, during a maelstrom of mass layoffs, she resigned to pursue stand-up comedy, effectively saving someone else’s job.

The gambit proved fruitful. Love’s career blasted off after she made it to the finals on Star Search in 2004. Now, over a decade later, her self-sacrifice still remains one of her strongest virtues, even motivating her aspirations for the documentary.

“Being Loni Love is going to talk about my family life and upbringing, and how I got to where I am today,” she says. “I hope that it will inspire people—that’s what I really want to do. I want to encourage people to be themselves and tap into what they really want to do to be happy in their lives. It’s not so much about ‘lets talk about Loni’ and ‘look at me, I’m great!’ I want to use my stories to inspire people.”

Love has been fortunate to work closely with DeGeneres, one of her own professional inspirations. In 2014, the talk show titaness invited Love to serve as a guest DJ on her show. The rapport they forged was so strong that when DeGeneres’ successful smartphone app Heads Up was developed into a game show, she selected Love to serve as its host.

While career opportunities are one of the more prominent benefits of working with DeGeneres, Love cites another reason as her favorite. “The prizes she gives me. The gifts, man,” laughs Love, before her tone grows more earnest.

“I’m learning how to be a great talk show host, and I consider her to be one of my mentors,” she says. “She allows me to be myself. That’s what I really admire about her. I remember when I first did her show. She said, ‘You can say whatever you want to say. Don’t worry about anything. If something happens, they can always edit it out.’ As a performer, that helps you to see that Ellen understands that. Because Ellen was a stand-up, so she understands the pressure. She’s helped me become a better performer and host.”

Both mentor and mentee seem to thrive off their ability to relate positively with others, a trait that Love attributes to DeGeneres’ mega-success.

“The thing about Ellen is she has such a great love for everything, and she’s so respectful of people,” Love says. “She had Kanye West on her show, and now they are really good friends. It’s a comedy talk show, but she also has people on that you normally wouldn’t think would be on. She’ll have them on, and then you can see how she’s a master at making it work for her show. That’s a testament to her.”

Love hopes to funnel the newfound skills gleaned from DeGeneres into her own talk show The Real now that it’s returned for a second season. Touted as “a younger, intoxicated version of The View”—also with all-female panelists—the brand-new season strives to balance a trademark irreverence with more serious issues.

“We got the exclusive with Bobby Brown,“ she says. “We learned a lot of things about him and the situation with his daughter. That’ll be the difference. We’re going to show that we can do the big interview and still do our inspirational and fun stuff. You’ll also see, this season, us interacting more with the fans. We have this segment called ‘Loni’s Love Corner,’ where I give love advice to fans. There were thousands of submissions, so we’re bringing that back.”

Apparently Loni Love gets back just as much love as she gives.