Maria Menounos and her boyfriend have been together 16 years, but it hasn’t always been easy.
The “Extra” co-host recently revealed how her Greek Orthodox father severed ties with her after she began dating her Italian-American boyfriend Keven Undergaro.
“I knew when I met Kevin the first time, he was the one,” Menounos told AOL. “It wasn’t an easy situation. He wasn’t Greek. My dad was very upset, pretty much disowned me, took my education away.”
As a result, she said, “I was now pretty much homeless, no education, no degree, but I had Keven.”
Undergaro told AOL, “It was Romeo and Juliet without ending in full tragedy.”
The couple were recalling the early days of their courtship ahead of their new reality show, “Chasing Maria Menounos” on Oxygen.
In the fourth episode, Menounos and Undergaro return to the unfinished basement in Boston, where they moved after Menounos was disowned. There, she dreamed of one day making it in Hollywood.
“I just knew from day one when I met Maria that she was going to be a star,” Undergaro recalled. “I said, if we just stick to the plan and stay focused on what we need to, you will become that star, your parents will come to understand this whole situation, they’ll be back in our lives.”
The couple moved to Los Angeles, where Menounos became a correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight” and “Access Hollywood.”
Soon after Menounos’ parents came to visit.
“My dad apologized to Keven which I think is such a sign of, I don’t know,” she told AOL. “I don’t know a lot of men that can actually say they’re sorry.”
Now, Menounos’ parents actually live with her and Undergaro in Los Angeles.
But before they became one big, happy family, Menounos said, “We spent so many nights clinging to each other crying and it was terrible.”
Added Undergaro, “A lot of holidays alone.”
The couple hope by sharing their story, others will see that it’s possible to overcome these kinds of obstacles.
“I think it’s aspirational for people who have dreams and your families don’t support your dreams because they just seem so crazy — whether it’s I want to make it in Hollywood or I want to marry someone outside of my culture or race,” Undergaro said.