Jedediah Bila shares how 'The View' helped her feel comfortable discussing race

She joins co-host Sunny Hostin in the special podcast series "Behind The Table."

October 26, 2021, 3:02 AM

In the latest episode of the "Behind The Table" podcast, Jedediah Bila tells Sunny Hostin how she learned to become comfortable discussing race during her time on "The View."

Bila, who co-hosted the Emmy Award-winning talk show in season 20, opened up on the special podcast series about how Hostin and moderator Whoopi Goldberg helped her have conversations about racial reckoning.

When a racial topic first arose on the show with her on the panel, Bila confided in Goldberg. As someone who considerers herself a conservative, she was concerned about saying something that could make viewers uncomfortable, and knew she was coming from a "place of privilege" as a white woman.

"I remember the first time that this came up on the show, going to Whoopi and saying, 'I don't want to speak about this in a way that's going to make anyone uncomfortable. I really want to be able to say my piece, but is this a space where that's possible?'"

She recounted Goldberg looking her in the eye and telling her that she needs to be able to have conversations about race "because that's the only way anything changes. That's the only way anyone learns."

"[Whoopi] made me feel like it was OK to kind of explore and speak and ask," Bila said. "That particular issue of race is something that I had always struggled with. How do I speak about this in a compassionate way? How do I let people know that I'm empathetic, that I also have questions?"

"If I sit back and zip up, what message does that send?" Bila said, adding that she was "incredibly grateful" to both Hostin and Goldberg.

PHOTO: Jedediah Bila on ABC's "The View" Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.
Jedediah Bila on ABC's "The View" Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.
ABC Photo Archives

Bila went on to say that "to this day," there are times she'll text Hostin asking her opinion on certain topics. "Even if we disagree, it's important for me to know how someone else sees it, who has walked in different shoes and may have a very different lens that may open my eyes to a different way of seeing," she said.

When it comes to having important "hot button" topics such as race, Bila said "there's always that fear" of "being misconstrued" on live TV. "What I really appreciated is that everyone at that table knew that we were all in that moment, that we were all coming from a good place of wanting to hear and be heard, to understand and be understood."

Hostin responded that these aren't easy conversations to have, and "that's the beauty" of "The View."

"That was Barbara Walters' vision," Hostin said. "To bring women from different backgrounds, different life experiences, and being able to have those discussions openly and to teach other people how to do it."

She went on to say that "race is one of those issues" that sometimes "white women feel uncomfortable" discussing. "If we can't talk about it, then we can't teach our children how to talk about it, and then we're nowhere," said Hostin.

PHOTO: "The View" co-hosts Sunny Hostin and Jedediah Bila on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 after Bila announced it would be her last day as co-host.
"The View" co-hosts Sunny Hostin and Jedediah Bila on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 after Bila announced it would be her last day as co-host.
ABC Photo Archives

As a conservative woman from Brooklyn, Bila said she was used to being around people that had differing political opinions from her own, but told Hostin that defending those positions is "very different when it unfolds on television."

In season 20, Bila was the only conservative on the panel, and admitted that sometimes she struggled to understand what that meant for her "in terms of what people expect" her to represent and say on the show.

"I did get in my head a little bit. Like if the whole table was agreeing, that I was supposed to disagree," Bila said. "I fought that and really tried to be my authentic self on the show, but that was my internal battle."

Still, when Bila left "The View" in September 2017, she said she received messages from viewers rallying behind her saying that she made them think about issues in a way they hadn't before, and made them think differently about conservatives.

"That made me so happy that I would cry happy tears, like I did something good," Bila said of viewers' response to her leaving the conservative seat.

In the seventh episode of "Behind The Table," Bila and Hostin discuss being good friends despite disagreeing on many issues; they look back on the fun -- and some lighthearted "terror" for Sunny -- they had when "The View" took a trip to Walt Disney World; and they discuss Bila's biggest regret from her time on the show.

Listen to Jedediah Bila and Sunny Hostin's "Behind The Table" podcast episode:

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