The View's Sunny Hostin Says Nancy Grace Telling Her to Change Her Puerto Rican Name is a Teaching Moment
After longtime legal analyst Nancy Grace told her 'no one can pronounce' 'Asunción' early in her career, Hostin changed her name to 'Sunny'. Here’s how the mom of two wants to raise her kids to be proud of their Black and Puerto Rican roots.
Sunny Hostin, cohost of The View and mom of two, speaks her truth about her identity, cooking in quarantine, and keeping the faith.
What’s it like shooting The View remotely?
I don't miss my commute or heels—I've been wearing slippers since last March! I'm cherishing the time with my kids, Gabriel, 18, and Paloma, 14, and husband, Emmanuel. There are times when we're all on the WiFi or one of the kids walks in on a taping. Our viewers get a kick out of it, though, because it's what we're all living through now.
You and Emmanuel have been married 22 years. What’s your secret?
We have separate interests. Manny's an orthopedic surgeon and fiddles around a lot with cars in his spare time. I tell him, "I didn't know I married a mechanic," and he'll say, "I didn't know I married a farmer!" I like to work in the garden and cook—pastelitos, alcapurrias, tostones. It's hard not to be Puerto Rican in my house! Manny says food is my love language, and it tends to be. I have all my grandma's recipes in my head.
In your new memoir, I Am These Truths, you talk about not feeling Latina or Black enough.
It still bothers me. But I've realized you don't have to explain who you are—to anyone. That's what I teach my kids. Manny is Haitian and Spanish, so they're more multicultural than I am. It's important to me that they're proud of their heritage but also that they know: No one can put you in a box. You define who you are.
That’s a lesson you learned early on after changing your name from Asunción to Sunny.
Fifteen years ago, during one of my first appearances on TV with Nancy Grace, she said, “You are so talented, but in this business your name is going to be an impediment. No one can pronounce it.” So I became Sunny. Funny thing is that after that, my career took off. Was it good advice to change it? Yes. But could I have made it with Asunción? Yes, and I probably would’ve opened doors for others too.
Your mom’s been living with you during the quarantine. What’s the best parenting advice she’s given you?
I grew up in a housing project in the South Bronx, and my family was so poor. But my mom eventually earned a master's degree and became a school principal. She taught me the value of education. And also that when you're ready to have children, put them first. She was willing to sacrifice everything for me. I was very conscious of that when I decided to have kids. It wasn't an easy journey. I suffered five miscarriages before turning to IVF.
How did you get through it?
My Catholic faith. I was in a black hole. I started to feel like I wasn’t supposed to be a mother, that God was trying to tell me something. Why else would it be so hard? Eventually, I turned to a nun named Sister Eileen who’d tell me, “We’re speaking and praying motherhood into existence. You deserve this, and you’re a beautiful soul.” My children are my miracle and biggest joy.
This article originally appeared in Parents Latina's February/March 2021 issue as “Sunny Hostin Speaks Her Truth.”