There was a time when television personality Giuliana Rancic seemed to be everywhere. And the Italian-American journalist was extremely successful in both her career and her personal life, winning awards and mixing with A-listers.
But come 2017, everything seemed to have taken a downward turn: in fact, Rancic’s career is now floundering. And as is often the case with celebrity falls from grace, it had really only taken one major lapse of judgment.
Still, at one point, Rancic – née Giuliana DePandi – looked determined to get ahead. She studied journalism at the University of Maryland, for instance, and went on to take a master’s degree in journalism at American University to give her the grounding she needed for a future career. She even studied modeling and acting. But the world of television was really where her heart lay, and so she moved to LA with the hope of making it big. It wasn’t all glamor when she got to California, though: one of Rancic’s earliest jobs was in a mailroom, delivering letter and parcels to big stars. But that all changed when, in 2002, she was made a correspondent at E! News.
And Rancic rose up the ranks fast. By 2005, in fact, she had become the show’s solo anchor and managing director, and she was very good at both roles. At that time, moreover, E! News had risen from being the lowest-rated show on the network to the highest-rated one. It’s little wonder, then, that Rancic was a popular woman. And in the next couple of years, she would find further success in both her personal and professional lives. In 2006, for instance, she would release her debut book Think Like a Guy: How to Get a Guy by Thinking Like One; in 2007, meanwhile, she went on to wed Apprentice entrepreneur Bill Rancic.
Eventually, Rancic became the go-to host for red carpets events like the Oscars. She even got the thing many people dream of: her own reality show in Giuliana and Bill. But in 2010 she revealed that her personal life had been dealt a major blow. She and her husband were having difficulty conceiving, and she had miscarried in March of that year.
In fact, Giuliana and Bill began focusing on the couple’s efforts to have a child. It was a long and painful process, and the couple went very public with it, knowing that their tale could help others in the same boat. However, the pair were about to be dealt yet another blow. While undergoing IVF, Rancic had a mammogram, and the results weren’t what she expected: she had breast cancer.
But although it was a horrible shock to have to deal with, Rancic had in a way been very lucky. Because the cancer had been caught early, the risk was much less than it otherwise could have been. In October 2011, then, Rancic underwent a double lumpectomy; incredibly, she returned to work behind the newsdesk just a week later. Then, in December, she had a bilateral mastectomy to hopefully wipe the cancer out for good.
“Do you realize that if we had gotten pregnant, I would have been done?” Rancic said in an interview with magazine Michigan Avenue in January 2012. “That would have catapulted this cancer into another level. By the time I was 40 or 41, I’m scared to think about what they would have told me. I now know the reason why I wasn’t ever supposed to get pregnant.” But motherhood was still on the cards for her.
In August 2012, having put the pain of the past few years behind them, the Rancics welcomed their first baby into their lives. The child, Edward Duke Rancic, was born via a gestational carrier. “Bill and I are blessed beyond words to welcome Edward into our lives,” Giuliana told E! News. “Thank you so much to everyone who supported us along the way. We are so in love with the little guy already!”
Naturally, Rancic’s fans were delighted to see her finally happy after all they’d been through. And although the new mom could have taken a break from her career at that point, she continued on. Indeed, in 2013 alone, she launched a clothing line called G by Giuliana, a wine line called Xo, G and a breast cancer charity. The charity, called Fab-U-Wish, was arguably the most important of those endeavors, and its purpose was to grant wishes to people who were receiving treatment for breast cancer.
And 2014 also brought good things for Rancic, as that year she was named “Fan Favorite” at the Daytime Emmy Awards. “I dedicate this award to my six million social media BFFs because I really don’t know what I would do without them,” she said in her acceptance speech. “They laugh with me, cry with me and pray for me. They keep it real, and their friendship makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.”
But things were about to come crashing down for Rancic. And it would be, unfortunately, in front of even more than six million people. Because when Rancic appeared on Fashion Police to commentate on the 2015 Academy Awards – and the outfits the female guests had chosen – she said something foolish about one of the young attendees. And this remark would haunt her for years to come.
The show would have passed without incident had Rancic not laid her eyes on Zendaya, a young African American singer and up-and-coming actress. Zendaya, who had made a name for herself as a Disney Channel star, was wearing long synthetic locs for her red carpet look. “I love Zendaya’s style,” Rancic began, and that’s probably where she should have stopped. But she carried on, “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil. Or weed! Yeah, maybe weed?” And that small joke had a vast knock-on effect.
The day after the Awards, Zendaya took to Twitter to publicly condemn Rancic’s words. “To say that an 18-year-old young woman with locs must smell of patchouli oil or ‘weed’ is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive,” she wrote. “There is already harsh criticism of African American hair in society without the help of ignorant people who choose to judge others based on the curl of their hair.” Her post went into a lot of detail, but at the core of it was this: Rancic had been racist in her comments.
And plenty of other people agreed. In fact, the MTV website even published an article entitled “Why Zendaya’s Hair-Shaming On Fashion Police Should Matter To You.” And the writer, Rebecca Thomas, said that Rancic had “breathed renewed life into super-antiquated misconceptions about locs that black men and women, in particular, have pushed back against for years.”
Understandably, Rancic was quick to say sorry for her ill-advised comments, beginning with an apology on Twitter directed at Zendaya herself. “I’m sorry I offended you and others,” she wrote. “I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!!!” This was followed up with a longer apology a day later. “This incident has taught me to be a lot more aware of cliches and stereotypes, how much damage they can do,” Rancic said on E! News. “And that I am responsible, as we all are, to not perpetuate them further.”
And Zendaya accepted the apology gracefully. “I appreciate your apology and I’m glad it was a learning experience for you and for the network,” she wrote to Rancic on Twitter. “I hope that others negatively affected by her words can also find it in their hearts to accept her apology as well.” Perhaps that should have been the end of it, but the scandal dragged on – not least because Rancic’s Fashion Police co-star Kelly Osbourne then got involved.
On Twitter, Osbourne – a friend of Zendaya – threatened to quit Fashion Police over the Rancic incident. And that was exactly what she did. But after that, various ambiguous interview quotes and cryptic tweets suggested there was bad blood between Osbourne and Rancic. And that rancor became obvious in an interview Osbourne did with The Wrap a few months after the Zendaya affair. “I will never admit to liking Giuliana because I don’t,” she announced. “I don’t think she’s a good person and I think she’s a liar.”
The scandal had cost Rancic much of her reputation. No-one was surprised, then, when in July 2015 she announced she would be leaving E! News. No-one was convinced, either, that she’d made the decision of her own free will. “Giuliana knows it’s a sinking ship and she’s had an awful year,” an anonymous source told Page Six at the time. “It’s half her decision to leave and half getting pushed out.” And although she would still be presenting red carpet events, Rancic was also reporedly furious when E! hired Maria Menounos, a woman she disliked, to replace her as anchor.
The media, meanwhile, ate up Rancic’s apparent feuds with her female co-stars. In November 2015, for example, a source told The Hollywood Gossip that Rancic and Menounos were “fighting over the most prestigious shows.” But headlines on celebrity gossip websites don’t translate into genuine stardom. And that was exactly what Rancic had lost, even though she still had her product lines and breast cancer charity work to keep her busy.
Then in 2017 a new report popped up concerning Rancic. After Menounos left E! to battle brain cancer, Radar Online ran a story claiming that an anonymous insider knew Rancic was “begging to return as E! News host.” However, there’s a very high chance that if Rancic does take over from her unwell rival, it’ll come with a whole new array of controversies. And while there’s an old saying that bad publicity is better than no publicity, in Rancic’s case, that simply hasn’t been true.