Sunny Hostin Says Nancy Grace's Frustrated Request Changed Her Career

Sunny Hostin of “The View” said Nancy Grace basically asked her to change her real name after Grace struggled to say it during their Court TV days. (Watch the video below.)

“My career took off,” Hostin said on an episode of PBS’s “Finding Your Roots” that aired Tuesday. “All of a sudden, people remembered who I was.”

Hostin, a lawyer of Puerto Rican descent on her mother’s side, was born Asunción Cummings. She married Emmanuel Hostin in 1998. In her late 30s, she thought her “ship [had] sailed” as far as working in TV broadcasting. But, she explained to “Finding Your Roots” host Henry Louis Gates Jr., a producer she met at a work-life balance conference for Black lawyers told her otherwise.

Weeks later, Hostin was providing legal commentary on Grace’s show on Court TV. But the host found her given name too daunting.

“She struggled, every take,” Hostin told Gates. “It was just so crazy. She couldn’t get it.”

During a break, Hostin recalled, Grace pressed her to come up with a nickname.

“She was basically telling me, ‘You’re very good at this, but that name is not gonna fly. You need to just go by a nickname,’” Hostin said.

Hostin mentioned to Grace that some friends in school who couldn’t pronounce her name called her Sunny, but that she didn’t use the nickname professionally.

“And the next segment, I was Sunny Hostin,” she said.

In 2016, Hostin began perhaps her most prominent gig to date as co-host of “The View.”

She told Gates that the name change and its effect on people says “something about our world.”

In 2020, Hostin expressed second thoughts about going by the nickname, but did not blame Grace. “I still regret it,” Hostin told People. “I think I allowed my identity to be stripped from me, for my job. I don’t think Nancy was trying to strip me of my identity, or you know, Americanize me, or colonialize me, or anything like that. Nancy’s my friend, and it wasn’t ill-intentioned. I don’t think people would question my identity as much if I stuck with my given name.”

In the exploration of her heritage on the PBS show that aired Tuesday, Hostin learned a bombshell: Her newly revealed ancestors in Spain “likely” owned slaves. “I’m a little bit in shock,” she said.