Wendy Williams' niece shares glimpse into the life of her aunt in new doc

"Where is Wendy Williams?" will debut on Feb. 24 and 25 on Lifetime.

February 22, 2024, 7:51 AM

Ahead of the upcoming Lifetime documentary, "Where is Wendy Williams?" Wendy Williams' niece, Alex Finnie, opened up in an interview with "Good Morning America," sharing some insights into the private life of her aunt.

Williams became a household name from her daytime show "The Wendy Williams Show," which she hosted for 12 seasons.

Known for her signature greeting, "How you doin'?" Williams entertained a massive audience by analyzing the latest celebrity gossip during her famous "Hot Topics" segment on the show and interviewing celebrity guests.

Her public appearances, as well as her show, came to a rather abrupt end after producers of the "Wendy Williams Show" announced the end of the talk show in February 2022, due to Williams' prolonged health struggles, which included Graves' disease and a thyroid condition.

Williams and her medical team on Thursday also shared the news that she had been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia in 2023 and has been receiving medical care she needs.

The "Wendy Williams Show" was replaced by "Sherri," a new series hosted by Sherri Shepherd in fall 2022.

PHOTO: Alex Finnie speaks with ABC News' Deborah Roberts during an interview in New York City.
Alex Finnie speaks with ABC News' Deborah Roberts during an interview in New York City.
ABC News

Speaking to "GMA" in a sit-down interview with Deborah Roberts, Finnie, who is an anchor at ABC's Miami affiliate WPLG, admitted that the upcoming documentary detailing the reality of Williams' life is hard to watch.

"I said I wasn't gonna cry -- because I feel like I've cried enough over the last year and a half," she explained. "But what people are gonna see is a broken woman who has had the world on her shoulders for so long-- and just cracked."

Finnie said she is "prepared" to break the silence about her aunt since Williams began to disappear from public life, adding, "I've been living in this secret bubble for a very long time."

During the two years of filming the documentary, Finnie, who occasionally makes an appearance, spent days and nights with Williams where she witnessed some of the star's low moments, including an excessive drinking habit and moments of incoherence.

When asked about criticism in advance of the documentary's release that the film could be exploiting Williams, Finnie told Roberts that Williams said she saw it as a way to take ownership of her own story.

"I understand that people will look at it, and -- some people will look at it and think that," Finnie said. "But I will say this, first and foremost, my aunt is the executive producer of this documentary."

"And when I finally talked with her and I said to her, 'Aunt Wendy, why are -- do you wanna do this?' You know, 'You're -- you're -- you're clearly-- the health piece, all of that has to be addressed. Is now the right time?' And she said, 'Now is the perfect time because I wanna take ownership of my story,'" Finnie explained.

For many, Wiliams' story took a dramatic turn on Halloween of 2017 when she collapsed on her show. The event left some fans wondering whether the star who has openly talked about her health struggles and battle with alcohol and substance abuse was in trouble.

PHOTO: Television personality Wendy Williams speaks onstage during her celebration of 10 years of 'The Wendy Williams Show' at The Buckhead Theatre on Aug. 16, 2018 in Atlanta.
Television personality Wendy Williams speaks onstage during her celebration of 10 years of 'The Wendy Williams Show' at The Buckhead Theatre on Aug. 16, 2018 in Atlanta.
Paras Griffin/Getty Images, FILE

A string of unfortunate events followed two years later, including her stint in rehab, a messy divorce and her long absence from set before the cancellation of her show in early 2022.

Months after her show was canceled, Williams invited a camera crew into her home with the hope of revealing a career reboot. Along with that came footage of alcohol bottles found around her home.

Asked whether her aunt is an alcoholic, Finnie replied, "You know, and so in terms of being an alcoholic, I don't wanna categorize her because, you know, I'm not a medical professional."

"But what I can say is that my aunt has had some unhealthy habits when it's come to alcohol, certainly in recent years," she added.

In addition to Williams' health struggles in 2022, the star was also in a legal battle with Wells Fargo Bank, which froze her accounts for two months.

A New York judge later appointed a guardian to manage her finances and her life after the bank claimed in 2022 court documents that Williams was a "victim of undue influence and financial exploitation."

Williams, however, rejected the claims shortly after, telling "GMA" at the time, "Well, you know, when people want control of their accounts, they say anything including something crazy like that about me."

In the upcoming documentary, family members of the star said they have had little access to Williams after the judge's decision.

During the interview with "GMA," Finnie also said her family was "shut out" by the State of New York, preventing them from being able to provide assistance to Williams.

Meanwhile, in response to ABC News, Wells Fargo shared a statement, writing, "This matter was conducted under seal. Any claims against Wells Fargo have been dismissed."

Finnie also addressed rumors accusing Williams' son, Kevin Jr., or someone close to the star of taking advantage of her financially, prompting the intervention from Wells Fargo.

"So, I personally have not seen [a] family [member] taking advantage of my aunt's money. I haven't," she reaffirmed. In the documentary, Kevin Jr. says he never took money without Williams' consent.

While touching on the subject of who would be benefitting from the documentary, Finnie told "GMA," "the only person that comes out of this victorious, I hope, is my aunt."

Discussing her other hopes for Williams, Finnie revealed her aunt still has a desire to recommence her professional life.

"I know that ... in talking with her, she does hope to resume [her] career," Finnie said. "And my hope for her is that she does whatever she wants to do that makes her happy and that stays in the bounds of keeping her healthy."

The upcoming documentary will provide a "raw, honest and unfiltered reality of Wendy's life after she was placed under financial guardianship," according to a press release. It will also aim to tell the story of "Wendy's journey to resurrect her career, and what filmmakers discovered along the way."

"Where is Wendy Williams?" will debut on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 on Lifetime.