"I had a really difficult time," Ripa says of her early days on the show -- adding she had to wait to use the same bathroom as the studio audience.
Kelly Ripa is opening up more about her difficult early years on "Live," after she was brought on to cohost the show opposite Regis Philbin in 2001.
Speaking with Variety for a new Power of Women cover story, Ripa revealed she had to fight for both an office and a private bathroom when she started -- before opening up about the pay disparity she witnessed between herself and her own husband, Mark Consuelos, throughout their careers.
When she first joined the show, Ripa said she was told she "couldn't have an office," something which "didn't make a whole lot of sense" because there were empty office spaces in the building. She added she was told the empty ones were reserved for executives who visited from Los Angeles and, after four years, was finally given a janitor's closet they cleared out and put a desk in for her.
When Regis left the show in 2011, Ripa said the network refused to give her his old office, even though she was then the sole host of the show.
"They said, 'Oh, no, we're saving that.' And I said, 'Saving it for what?' And they go, 'Well, for when the new guy comes.' And I looked at them, and I said, 'I am the new guy,'" she explained, adding that she eventually just "forced" her way into the office.
"All of those offices that were not available to me were suddenly made available [to others], with walls knocked down to make them twice as big," she added. "It was fascinating for me to watch — the need to make the new guy comfortable and respected, but I couldn't use those offices. I had to use the broom closet."
Ripa also claimed she didn't have a bathroom of her own either and had to use the same one provided to the studio audience.
"We have a studio audience — like 250 people! — and I have to queue up. Particularly when I was pregnant, it was extraordinarily exhausting to have to wait in line. I have to host the show, and I'm still waiting in line to use the bathroom," she said. "It just seemed, you know, a very needlessly difficult situation."
Looking back, she told the outlet she doesn't hold any one person responsible for the repeated slights -- and put the blame on the network for not keeping "all things equal," not any of her male colleagues.
With her husband officially joining her as cohost following Ryan Seacrest's exit, Ripa also said the pair have witnessed the pay disparity in the entertainment industry between men and women throughout her career firsthand.
"He was paid far more than I was paid. Always. And he started years after I started," she said of their time together on "All My Children" back in the day. "It wasn't until I got what we call my 'fancy job' that I started actually earning more money than him. We have been together so long that it's always been collective money. We are very much old-fashioned in that sense."