BREAKING BIG.

Author:Sullivan, Jeff
Position:MAKING A DIFFERENCE
 
FREE EXCERPT

TV STAR MARIA MENOUNOS HAS CREATED A NEW WAY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO GETTHEIR FEET IN THE DOOR OF SHOW BUSINESS.

Maria Menounos thought she was busy.

During her final semester at Boston's Emerson College in the spring of 2000, Menounos took a full slate of classes, worked full-time as a reporter for Channel One News--often traveling for interviews during the week--and finished first runner-up for the title of Miss Massachusetts. And she still graduated.

That torrid five-month stretch would seem like a sunset drink on the beach compared to the ensuing 17 years, though. After moving to Los Angeles, the daughter of Greek immigrants was quickly hired by Entertainment Weekly as a correspondent, then came acting, both television and movies, followed by Access Hollywood and even professional wrestling. More weeks than not involved seven days of 18 or more hours.

"I tried it all, a lot of it all, too," Menounos says. "I worked toxic situations, I became used to this threshold."

Her workaholic nature stems from her childhood in Medford, Massachusetts, cleaning nightclubs with her parents and learning the work ethic, the mindset of pushing your limits every day. "We worked 365 days a year," she says. "We'd be there Christmas morning, knee high in trash. That immigrant mentality ... my parents had limitless energy, so the groundwork for who I became was set early.

"My life for so long was that Rocky Balboa quote, 'It's not about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.' Luckily, God sent me a parachute."

The parachute came in rather unexpected form: a brain tumor. On her 39th birthday in June 2017, she underwent an eight-hour surgery to remove the tumor. During the same stage, her mother Litsa was battling Stage 4 brain cancer of her own. Yet when Menounos first received her diagnosis, instead of feeling like her world was collapsing, she actually started laughing, later saying, "It was so surreal and crazy and unbelievable."

While initially worried about whether she could find work following the surgery, Menounos had something of an epiphany after awaking in the recovery room. The surgery was a success and there would be a long recovery process, but that was just fine, as she was no longer in a rush, no longer obsessed with the next gig.

"Since I was 13, this is all that I wanted, but like so many people around me, I was trapped in the dream," she says. "I wasn't evolving. The life wasn't fulfilling me and I didn't...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP