Julie Chen’s son is 'trying to shun’ his roots like she did

Growing up Asian-American with traditional parents wasn’t easy for Julie Chen. Speaking Mandarin before English, the Talk cohost always felt as if she didn’t fit in: “I just wanted to assimilate and look and sound like the other kids,” she recalls to Us Weekly of being one of the few children of Asian heritage in grade school. “Most of the kids didn’t look like me. I was the one Asian kid, I think there was another Japanese student in my class. I was in denial.”

And it seems like history is repeating itself for her 8-year-old son, Charlie (with husband Leslie Moonves, 68). “I see him going through what I did,” the 48-year-old notes, “which was trying to shun that side of me.”

"Charlie isn’t interested in learning his mother’s native tongue at the moment, but Chen believes he’ll warm to his background one day just as she did. “He’s at that age where he’s trying to figure out what does this mean,” she adds. “I know he’ll reach a stage where he’s going to regret not learning the language and speaking it fluently from a young age. He will want to get in touch with his Chinese roots.”

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Julie Chen and her family together
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Julie Chen and her family together
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 22: (L-R) Julie Chen, Charlie Moonves and Les Moonves attend the 2018 Simon Wiesenthal Center National Tribute Dinner Honoring Leslie Moonves at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 22, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Producer Julie Chen, Charlie Mooves and President of CBS Leslie Moonves attend The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Sarah Moonves, Les Moonves, Charlie Moonves and Julie Chen attend the 2017 American Songbook Gala at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on February 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: (L-R) Sara Moonves, CBS Corporation chairman, president and CEO Leslie Moonves, Charlie Moonves and Julie Chen attend Lincoln Center's American Songbook Gala red carpet at Alice Tully Hall on February 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: (L-R) TV personality Julie Chen, Charlie Moonves and Les Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation arrive at The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
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As an adult, Chen is proud of her heritage though, especially after participating in TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are in 2015. “To go back to the homeland, the motherland and get in touch with your roots,” the Big Brother host says, “I felt more aware of who I am and what makes me, me. It was very profound. I loved watching it with my parents, my parents’ generation of relatives.”

For more on Chen and her son, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.

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