Unapologetically is a Yahoo Life series in which people get the chance to share how they live their best life — out loud and in color, without fear or regret — looking back at the past with a smile and embracing the future with excited anticipation.
Vanna White, 65, has reigned as co-host of Wheel of Fortune for 40 years now — a role, she tells Yahoo Life, that never gets “monotonous.”
“I have a different dress on, we have different puzzles,” she explains. “So I treat every show like it’s brand new and it’s so much fun.”
The game show, which she co-hosts alongside Pat Sajak, does look different this year, thanks to the new LED screen puzzle board. White, however, is still as glamorous as ever, with her ever-changing array of designer gowns. Just don’t expect her to look as dolled up at home.
“I feel like I’m the same person I’ve always been growing up in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I really am myself,” she says. “On TV, I’m dressed up glamorous and so forth. But when I go home, I’m in sweats and jeans and tennis shoes — but I’m still the same person on the inside.”
White may be a fashion icon, but she says she takes little credit for her style choices on camera.
“Through 40 years, we have had many changes. From the big shoulder pads to the skimpy dresses, I’ve worn it all,” she explains. “The designers send their latest clothes every year and I wear them. So it’s really up to them. It’s their style and I’m modeling their clothes. So the pressure really isn’t on me — I am who I am on TV. When I’m off TV, you’re just going to see me in jeans and no makeup.”
That’s why she says she doesn’t see herself as much of a “sex symbol.”
“I’m just so simple and comfortable and not glammed out all the time,” she explains. “I feel like I’m just that country girl.”
White does feel pressure when watching herself age on camera, joking that it’s “depressing” to see how much she’s changed since she started her work on Wheel of Fortune when she “was a baby.”
“I’m not a young spring chicken anymore and, it is what it is,” she says. “I do the best I can. I eat pretty good. I exercise. I just try to stay healthy, and be the best I can at my age. That’s all you can do.”
White’s preferred form of exercise is her spin bike, which she does five days a week, as well as regular push-ups and and sit-ups.
“I’m still wearing these clothes that I’ve been wearing for the past 40 years,” she says. “I have to do a fitting every couple of weeks, so I need to fit into these sample sizes. That keeps me encouraged.”
As for beauty advice, there’s one daily ritual she swears by.
“The best piece of beauty advice that I can offer is to wear sunblock, and not only on your face and your body, but your hands,” she says. “As we get older, you can tell a woman’s age by her hands…Don’t leave them out because you’re always driving and the sun’s always on them.”
White was previously married to George Santo Pietro from 1990 to 2002, and the two share two children, now in their 20s. In terms of the advice she gives them, she says, “Don’t get married until you’re 30. You can live with your girlfriend or boyfriend. You can have all the fun you want. Just don’t get married until you ‘re 30.”
Her reasoning? “We all go through many different things throughout our young life,” she says.
“I think we mature as we get older and just, why not? Wait until you’re 30, you can still do all the same stuff,” she says. “Just don’t tie that knot, just in case.”
White never remarried after the end of her relationship with Pietro, but she has found love with John Donaldson, her partner of 11 years. The couple keep their romance low key — her perfect date night, she says, is “going out to dinner, having a bottle of wine” or even just a hike or walk.
“I don’t see us ever being apart,” she says. “He’s my soulmate and I’m extremely happy.”
– Video produced by Stacy Jackman
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