From Competing in WWE to Battling a Brain Tumor: Inside Maria Menounos' Life & Career
Immediately after completing her stint as a reporter during her senior year of college, Menounos took on a correspondent role for Entertainment Tonight in 2002. The Boston-born journalist would go on to work for Access Hollywood and Extra, respectively, before spending three years as a co-anchor at E! News.
Early on in her media career, Menounos made it a point to embrace another passion of hers: Acting. She scored a starring role as Chris Evans' love interest in 2005's Fantastic Four. "I have never been happy doing just one thing," Menounos revealed to The Trades. "A lot of people criticized me at a young age, because I wanted to do a lot of different things. And that's just how I am." She continued: "I'm happiest when I’m doing a million things. I don’t see my career going in any one direction. I see myself doing a potpourri of things."
FEELING THE MUSIC
Menounos even made an appearance in the star-studded music video for Jessica Simpson's 2006 single, "A Public Affair," where Menounos served major side-eye and got into a faux fight with the singer.
RING THE ALARM
In case you missed it: Menounos is a huge wrestling fan. In fact, the on-air personality has not only worked WWE events, but she's also competed in the ring more than once. In 2009, Menounos made her wrestling debut alongside Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox, Beth Phoenix and Rosa Mendes — the same night she guest hosted WWE Raw. "They didn't really believe me that I wanted to wrestle, I think," Menounos recounted to Wrestling Inc. "They figured oh, she's a celebrity. She's probably going to throw an elbow or something. And I trained really hard and it all kind of came together that night, which was so cool."
"It's such a great excuse to have fun and to learn something I've never learned before, and impress myself," Menounos told Zap2it ahead of her Dancing with the Stars debut in 2012, adding that she had never taken a dance class before starring in the competition. Menounos, who was paired up with Derek Hough, made it to fourth place on the show.
After shutting down previous offers to star in her own reality TV show, Menounos finally said yes in 2014. Her eponymous Oxygen series, Chasing Maria Menounos, aired from March to May of that year and also starred her Greek immigrant parents and boyfriend of nearly 20 years, Keven Undergaro — who all live under the same roof.
"The fact that Keven and I have been together for 16 years, we're not married, we don't have kids, my Greek immigrant parents live with us," she said of the show's premise. "They're very traditional and hounding us for all of those traditional things. We live this kind of Hollywood fairy tale, but we're not really Hollywood. There are a lot of different elements in there that were interesting not only to the network and the producers, but for us to share too."
A SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT
Menounos and her longtime boyfriend became engaged in March 2016 after he popped the question on-air during Howard Stern's SiriusXM radio show. "I had no idea. I thought he was joking," she said of when Undergaro started to propose. "Then this box came out and this ring. My jaw has been dropped since."
Undergaro joked that he was glad he popped the question before his bride-to-be had a chance too – considering how long they'd been dating. "It was the right time," Undergaro said. "But also, if we waited longer she would have asked me. It's like, 'No. You’ve taken all the control in this relationship, and that’s great. But in this one thing can I please have just this much masculinity?' " he joked.
BACK TO WORK
Menounos remains loyal to the WWE, having participated in an array of wrestling matches and hosting its annual Hall of Fame ceremony from 2014 to 2017.
A SCARY DIAGNOSIS
As she was caring for her mother, who has stage 4 brain cancer, the TV host found out she was facing a health crisis of her own in February 2017. After experiencing headaches and slurred speech, Menounos had an MRI, which revealed a golf-sized brain tumor. She underwent surgery, which confirmed what her doctor suspected: The growth was benign.
“We’re caretakers as women and we put ourselves last,” she told PEOPLE exclusively. “I tell people all the time if your car is making a weird noise, you take it to the mechanic. How come when our body is making weird noises, we ignore it? I’m so lucky that I went to the doctor and raised the alarm.”
A NEW CHAPTER
In July 2017, Menounos announced that she will leave E! News following her February brain tumor diagnosis. "My deal ends this August and after that I'm gonna take some time and focus on some passion projects and see what's next," she told PEOPLE. "I'm not rushing into anything."
The Sirius XM radio host had been with the company for three years after first joining the E! News team in 2014. In a statement, E! officials thanked Menounos for her "many contributions" over the years.
Menounos, who has been vocal about her IVF treatments in the past, told PEOPLE that she and Undergaro still "want to have a family" — and that she's "lucky" she wasn't pregnant when the tumor was discovered. "When you are pregnant, [tumors] grow fast," she says.
“The greatest thing that has happened out of all of this is you see God’s hands all around,” she adds, tearing up.
On New Year's Eve in 2017, Maria Menounos and her longtime love, Keven Undergaro, got married during Fox's New Year's Eve live broadcast just before midnight in a surprise ceremony, which was officiated by her co-host Steve Harvey.
"I’ve always wanted it to be super intimate and even though this is the opposite, we can only invite our immediate family, so the pressure of who to invite is gone. This was just so perfect," she told PEOPLE.