Star Jones had already distinguished herself in the courtroom and on the airwaves when she got the call from Barbara Walters to be one of the inaugural co-hosts of the daytime chatfest, “The View.” The North Carolina born, New Jersey raised lawyer’s reputation as a tough on crime Brooklyn prosecutor opened the door for her to become a legal analyst on television at a time when television executives realized that true crime had started to intersect with entertainment.

From L-R: Vanessa Williams, Tichina Arnold, Fiona Gubelmann in a scene from ‘Daytime Divas,’ which premieres on VH1 June 5. (Courtesy photo)

Court TV was looking for a legal analyst for the infamous William Smith Kennedy rape trial and tapped Jones for the job. It wasn’t long before she came to the attention of Jeff Zucker, then head of NBC. In a 1993 interview with the Washington Post he recalled of Jones, “She had knowledge of the legal aspects, but she talked like a regular person. Everyone was using F. Lee Bailey and Arthur Miller, the same middle-aged White men talking in legalese, saying the same thing over and over. Star didn’t look like them and she didn’t sound like them. We said, ‘Let’s use her.’”

Jones went on to give trenchant yet accessible legal analyses for a number of high profile legal cases during the nineties including the Mike Tyson rape case and the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Her skill and charisma led to what is arguably her most famous television foray as one of the first hosts of “The View.” Walters’ pioneering concept brought together five women of various ages and backgrounds, to discuss the hot topics of the day.

Those experiences came full circle when Jones, whose parents and sister live in Maryland, set about writing her first novel as cognitive training after undergoing open heart surgery. “My physician had advised that I do an activity that would not tax me physically but would exercise my mind. When you have your heart taken out of your body for 22 minutes there is always a concern that your short term and your long term memory might be affected. Well this was a wonderful exercise for me to kind of gather up all of my memories and put them together in a fictional account,” she told the AFRO.

That book became the novel, Satan’s Sisters and is the inspiration for Jones’ newest project the VH1 drama “Daytime Divas” starring Tichina Arnold and Vanessa Williams. “Daytime Divas” is about five co-hosts of a daytime talk show called “The Lunch Hour.” Like the book though, it explores much more than workplace politics and deeply delves into each woman’s off-screen life with family, friends, and community. For source material, Jones looked at her own life. “Just like “Daytime Divas,” actually every story in “Satan’s Sisters” comes from someone I interviewed, was interviewed by, worked with, worked for, prosecuted. So it really was born of my gut. I wrote what I knew which is usually the first rule of any successful author; write what you know. There is a grain of truth in each one of the stories. “Daytime Divas” kept with that policy. That’s why I think the audience will spend most of their time thinking, ‘Ooh, who’s that about?’”

She promised that the New York City set program, which premieres June 5, will be just as steamy as the novel on which it is based. “I was a little worried about that. The book was very steamy because daytime TV is very steamy you just don’t get to see it all. “Daytime Divas” took out some of the creepier steaminess but kept the sexy steaminess I would say.”

For all of her accomplishments, many of Star Jones’ personal challenges have also played out under harsh media scrutiny. In addition to having heart surgery, there was also her long battle with obesity. After shedding over a hundred pounds in the early aughts, there was a lot of pressure to disclose exactly how she lost the weight; something that for most people is a private matter.

Then there was the harsh characterization of her being, as the tabloid NY Post put it, a “Celebrity bridezilla” in the lead up to her wedding to banker Al Reynolds after a three month courtship and over the top proposal from him during a televised NBA game. They were divorced four years later. Finally, there was her surprise on-air revelation that she had been fired from “The View” by ABC. Executive producers Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie both claim to have been blindsided by the timing of the disclosure, causing some bad blood. It remains unclear how much of the relationship has been repaired. Of Walters, Jones said, “Listen, we’ve had our issues but that’s because we’re family. We may be dysfunctional but we’re still family.”

To get through these multiple challenges, Jones reveals that she drew on lessons learned from her family and that she enlisted professional help. “I choose not to focus on anything that was hurtful because clearly I got through it and I moved forward and I moved on. If you look up you can get up. I know it was the way I was raised but it’s also a result of sitting down and doing the hard work in therapy. Not enough people talk about that that sometimes you need to sit down and talk about your own behavior and make sure that you are being the best person that you can be.”