TAMPA — Speaking to a room filled with women in heels, television personality Giuliana Rancic opened up Wednesday about infertility, breast cancer and meeting Leonardo DiCaprio.
Rancic, host of E! News and star of the reality show Giuliana & Bill, addressed more than 800 people at the Women of Influence Luncheon, hosted by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
It was Rancic's second speaking engagement since being diagnosed with breast cancer last year and undergoing a double mastectomy.
She brought her lunch napkin to the podium.
"The first time I spoke about the breast cancer I cried," she said. "I have this just in case."
Born in Naples, Italy, Rancic migrated with her family to the United States at age 7. She said she learned English watching Sesame Street and the five o'clock news. She studied journalism at the University of Maryland and earned her graduate degree from American University in Washington D.C.
A reporting assignment on Capitol Hill shifted her focus from hard news to entertainment reporting.
Ted Kennedy called on her during a press conference and she asked him, "What do you like to do for a good time?"
"I asked the hard hitting questions no one asks for a reason," she joked Wednesday.
After graduate school, Rancic moved to Los Angeles, where she worked as a restaurant hostess and in a mail room to pay bills. Once, she delivered a chance package to Leonardo DiCaprio.
"Afterward I saw I had a piece of relish in my teeth the whole time," Rancic said. "So my advice is never eat a chili dog with relish before you meet Leonardo DiCaprio."
In 2001, Rancic landed a job on E! and made a name for herself as the girl who asks unfiltered questions. In 2005, she earned a spot as anchor of E! News, which she now co-anchors with American Idol's Ryan Seacrest.
"It sounds simple but I think half the battle in life is finding what we love to do and doing it," Rancic said.
These days, Rancic is both E! host and reality television star.
Giuliana & Bill, airing on the Style network, offers a peek into the lives of Rancic and her husband, Apprentice season one winner Bill Rancic. From unexplained infertility to Rancic's battle with cancer, cameras capture the couples courage in the face of adversity.
"What you see on the show, it's not fake, we (Bill and I) really do find the laughter and smile in everything," she said.
Rancic said she takes time each day to say thank you for the good in life. This week, she and Bill announced they are expecting a baby through a surrogate. During an audience question-and-answer session Wednesday, Rancic said the timing is right.
"Bill and I always say everything will be okay in the end and if it's not okay, then it's not the end," she said. "This is the light at the end of the tunnel."
Sarah Whitman can be reached at (813) 661-2439 or [email protected]