When you turn on the TV each night and watch the smiling, beautiful Maria Menounos on "Extra" it's easy to believe her Hollywood life is nothing but perfection. Bright lights, crimson red carpets and hobnobbing with the rich and famous, yes, but perfect? No.
In an exclusive one-on-one with AOL.com, Menounos reveals a painful period in her personal life when her family nearly turned its back on her for dating Italian-American boyfriend, Keven Undergaro. "It wasn't an easy situation," said Menounos. "He wasn't Greek so my dad was very upset, pretty much disowned me, took my education away... I was now pretty much homeless, no education, no degree, but I had Keven."
Undergaro called the early days of their relationship, "Romeo and Juliet without ending in full tragedy."
Menounos, 35, who can be seen showcasing the foibles of living with her family and boyfriend on her Oxygen reality show "Chasing Maria Menounos" says she's come a long way since her days living with Undergaro and chasing her Hollywood dreams from a basement in Boston. "There was a lady that we were close to growing up, " says Undergaro. "She was gracious enough to take us in and it was just an unfinished basement... "
Menounos says that it was in that basement, on a mattress on the floor surrounded by spiders where her dreams of Tinseltown came alive listening to Howard Stern's radio show. Determined to make her famous, Undergaro produced her resume tape and submitted it to a local news station. So began Menounos's road to stardom moving to LA and later becoming a correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight" and "Access Hollywood."
"The rest was history, " says Menounos. "My parents came out to visit. My dad apologized to Keven which I think is such a sign of, I don't know. I don't know a lot of men that can actually say they're sorry... It's so hard to give the whole story but it was really tragic and really, really hard. We spent so many nights clinging to each other crying and it was terrible."
Now a co-host of "Extra", author and co-star of her own reality show, the 35-year-old says she's hoping others will be inspired by her humble beginnings. "The opportunity with the show to kind of let people see that everything isn't always perfect and that they can overcome these kinds of obstacles too is really important. I think that getting to see where we started, where it all kind of began was important."
See where it all began as Menounos takes you back to her beginnings on "Chasing Maria Menounos" tonight at 10pm on Oxygen.