Abby Huntsman Says She Felt 'Trapped' on The View: 'I Was Not Rewarded for Being Me'
The 35-year-old TV personality served as a co-host on the talk show from 2018 to 2020. During a recent appearance on The View's podcast, Behind the Table, she discussed the good and the bad parts of the gig with current co-host Sara Haines.
Huntsman said that working on the show during Donald Trump's presidency led to an emphasis on "extremes."
"Everything was about a soundbite and everything was, 'Who could say the most bombastic thing in the moment?' and that's not me," she said. "And so, you know, it's funny I actually think I would have been perfect on The View in 1998. I would have been great. I would have fit in because you know what, at that point, the show was more about the women and their lives and why they were different."
Huntsman, the daughter of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., added that when she accepted the job, she made a point to tell producers that she would only join if they agreed she could be herself.
"I said 'I'm only saying yes if you let me just be Abby, I'm not coming on to speak for a political party," she recalled. "Yes, I was raised in a more conservative family and I am conservative on a number of things, but I'm also not conservative on everything. Welcome to the world. Not everyone fits in a box."
She continued, "[The producers] said 'Absolutely, you're gonna come in as Abby.' But very quickly, I realized that there was that expectation, and you have to fit in that box. And not only that, you need to make waves and headlines, and the only way to do that is to be more bombastic, to say things that were out there and sometimes a bit crazy."
Huntsman said she felt "pressure" to be controversial, but that wasn't who she was.
"I did feel trapped sometimes, because I felt like just to be me wasn't what the executives at the time always wanted," she said. "And I was not rewarded for being me — I was not rewarded for not being so out there. That was difficult because I went into news to be authentic, to be myself and to be truthful about all that and to give the viewers what I actually felt about things. So that was a really tough thing to realize pretty early on when I got there."
When Haines, 44, later discussed wishing she had taken a mental health break from a previous show she worked on, Huntsman revealed that her decision to leave The View actually stemmed from something similar.
"That was a moment, I think when I realized I was going to leave — I actually quit the next week," she began. "I wrote the higher ups at ABC and I said, 'I need a day tomorrow' — I never took a day off ever, I always showed up — and I said 'Something has happened emotionally, I need to take a day for me.' "
She said that those particular executives, who she said are no longer at the show, responded, " 'Absolutely not. There'll be rumors, you need to come back.' "
"And at that point, I thought, you know what? The people that were in charge at the time, they were not helping or protecting me," she said. "And my dad gave me the best advice. He said, 'You are the only one that can determine your future or else they will do it for you.' And I realized in the moment, right now they have control of all this and so, that's when I had to say I had to go."
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Huntsman also recalled the "great experiences" she had on The View, citing the friendships she forged with those who worked on the show and the opportunities she had to interview some of "the most incredible people of all time."
"In many ways, it was a dream job for me," she said, later adding, "I wouldn't be sitting here today doing this podcast and being and feeling as happy and collected in life had I not been at that show, because no one leaves The View not a much stronger person."
"You leave there and you have a much better sense of who you are," she said. "I can tell you everything I believe, I know who I want to spend my time with, how I want to spend my time and I know what I want in life now, and I don't know that I was at that place before I joined the show. So that journey really brought me here today and I will always be thankful to The View for that, and honestly, it's the good but it's also the bad things that I went through that got me here today that built some character for me."