The Talk’s new host on sur­viv­ing abuse

Fre­quent guests at Car­rie Ann Inaba’s tran­quil Los An­ge­le­sarea home are used to see­ing new in­te­rior-de­sign schemes. “I’m al­ways re­ar­rang­ing fur­ni­ture,” says the Danc­ing with the Stars judge and new co­host of The Talk. “When I feel stuck in my life, I shift the en­ergy. And that can change ev­ery­thing.” These days the 51-year-old for­mer dancer is thank­ful for a new out­look and a new job—and she’s re­flect­ing on the les­sons learned over a painful decade that saw two bro­ken en­gage­ments, the death of her father and mul­ti­ple health crises. “Life is just so com­pli­cated,” says Inaba. “But I found my way back. And I’m grate­ful.”

When Inaba was ap­proached about join­ing The Talk, CBS’S hit day­time talk show, she didn’t con­ceal her ex­cite­ment. “I re­ally wanted to be at that ta­ble,” she ad­mits. Still, tak­ing over for Julie Chen, who left soon after her hus­band, for­mer CBS CEO Les Moonves, stepped down amid al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault, was bit­ter­sweet. “Julie has been noth­ing but sup­port­ive,” Inaba notes. “When she heard I got the job, she sent me flow­ers and said, ‘I’m al­ways in your cor­ner.’ ”

Inaba her­self is no stranger to both tabloid at­ten­tion and a past marred by sex­ual abuse. In 2012, a year be­fore she lost her dad, Rod­ney, she split from her fiancé of one year, Jesse Sloan. “There were thoughts of, ‘Oh I’m go­ing to be so em­bar­rassed,’ ” says Inaba, who also ended her en­gage­ment in 2017 to Robb Der­ringer after nine months. “The ac­cepted norm is to be mar­ried, right? That’s what I was shoot­ing for. The men that I’ve been en­gaged to were won­der­ful men—they just weren’t right for me.” Months after her split from Sloan, Inaba was sex­u­ally as­saulted by a monk while at­tend­ing a Qigong body-move­ment class in L.A. (Inaba chose not to press charges.) “It just shows that can hap­pen to any­one, any­where,” says the chore­og­ra­pher, who was also sex­u­ally abused by a fam­ily friend when she was a young girl. “Life is filled

with chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions. I sur­vived and I’m okay.”

Inaba has long proved she’s a sur­vivor. Born and raised in Honolulu, she stud­ied chore­og­ra­phy at UC Irvine be­fore spend­ing years as a Fly Girl on the ’90s sketch-com­edy show In Liv­ing Color and danc­ing on tour with Madonna. In 2007, while judg­ing sea­son 4 of DWTS, Inaba was di­ag­nosed with spinal steno­sis, a nar­row­ing of the spinal canal that can cause pain and numb­ness. “I couldn’t move my head,” she re­calls. “I was in ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain for a few years.” That chronic dis­com­fort was “ex­haust­ing,” she says. “Pain is a life stealer. And it’s hid­den, so peo­ple can’t see it or un­der­stand it.” In 2013 came an­other health blow: Inaba was di­ag­nosed with Sjö­gren’s syn­drome, an im­mune dis­or­der that can cause joint pain and fa­tigue, among other things. “It was de­bil­i­tat­ing,” says Inaba, who doesn’t know how she con­tracted the con­di­tion. “I had to give up work­ing out be­cause I was so ex­hausted, so I gained a lot of weight. I would stay in bed three days a week—thank­fully I had the kind of job where I could do that. For a long time I was just sur­viv­ing. I didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t this ‘sexy dancer chick.’ Let­ting that go was a huge ad­just­ment.”

Now, thanks to a regime of cran­iosacral ther­apy (which uses gen­tle touch to re­lieve pain), acupunc­ture, yoga, Pi­lates and Reiki, as well as a bal­anced diet (Inaba avoids meat) and am­ple rest, Inaba is main­tain­ing her health and thrilled to pull dou­ble duty on both DWTS and The Talk. Romance, how­ever, is tak­ing a back seat. “This is the long­est I’ve ever been sin­gle,” she ad­mits. “But I re­al­ized I had to go to­ward what scared me the most. That’s part of the trans­for­ma­tion.” Con­tent on her own, Inaba says she’s ex­plor­ing adop­tion this year. “I would love to be a mom,” she says. “I’m con­sid­er­ing fos­ter­ing to adopt.” Most im­por­tantly, Inaba fi­nally feels able to ap­pre­ci­ate all she’s faced—and ex­cited for what’s next. “I love when life throws me some­thing chal­leng­ing,” she says, “be­cause I know some­thing beau­ti­ful is just around the cor­ner.”

‘I’ve been through tragedies in my life, but they’re usu­ally the big­gest gifts’ —CAR­RIE ANN INABA

Find­ing Calm “I’ve al­ways been a wor­rier,” says Inaba (at home with her res­cue dogs Lola and Buddy). “But lately I’ve been so at peace.”

Danc­ing Life “When I see some­thing that seems meant for me, I go for it,” says Inaba (left, in the late ’70s and, right, with her fel­low Fly Girls from in­clud­ing Jen­nifer Lopez, in 1992). In Liv­ing Color,

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