Nicole Camille Richie is one of America’s best-known socialite celebrities. As well as being renowned for her social activities and party-going, she is also an actress, author and singer. She is most famous for her role in the Fox TV reality show, 'The Simple Life', in which she co-stars alongside childhood friend, Paris Hilton.
Richie is the adopted daughter of legendary singer Lionel Richie. According to an article in Tatler magazine in April 2006, Richie’s biological father worked as a drummer with Lionel whilst her biological mother worked backstage as a production assistant. Lionel and his then wife Brenda Harvey-Richie informally adopted Richie when she was two-years-old. The adoption was made legally formal and binding when she turned nine. Tragically, Lionel and Brenda’s marriage fell apart just one year later and Richie suffered emotionally as a result of Lionel’s sudden absence from her life.
She attended The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, California, and was considered to be a very bright student. Her teachers regarded her as particularly gifted in music and the arts. She studied a variety of instruments, including the guitar, cello, piano and violin and was also very skilled at ice skating. In an interview with People magazine, the producer Quincy Jones commented: “She’s a very smart girl - I’ve known her since she was a baby. When she was younger, she worked eight hours a day for eight years to become an Olympic figure skater. She’s a very talented girl.”
After attending Montclair Prep High School, Richie enrolled in a college course in arts and media at the University of Arizona. She studied there for two years, before Hollywood and the world of show business beckoned. Her big break came in 2003, when she was approached by Fox TV to take part in ‘The Simple Life’. The role had previously been offered to Paris Hilton’s younger sister, Nicky, who had turned it down.
Richie’s acting debut helped to turn media attention away from her troubled and difficult past. Sadly, she experienced a turbulent adolescence, which she later blamed on her parents’ divorce. From a very early age she became involved in alcohol and substance abuse. Richie herself has openly admitted that she smoked marijuana at the age of 13, then progressed to cocaine a year later. At 19, she was injecting heroin. After she reached 24, she told an interviewer for Vanity Fair magazine that she considered herself to be a drug addict. “Although I am slowly learning how to deal with my problems, I am now leaning towards drinking more than drugs”, she said. She was arrested in 2003 for “driving under the influence,” and had her license suspended. She was arrested again in December 2006, when she admitted using marijuana and Vikodin.
Notwithstanding Richie’s troubled history of drug and alcohol abuse, ‘The Simple Life’ was a huge success with television audiences worldwide. Series one opened with the two girls living for a whole month with a family in the backwaters of rural Arkansas. In the second series, Hilton and Richie travelled in the southern states of America, driving a pink pick-up truck and living in a trailer. In the third series, Fox TV challenged the girls to go and live with no less than 16 different families carefully selected from various towns up and down the East coast.
Towards the end of 2005, Fox made the decision not to engage the girls for a fourth series, saying “they did not see a place for it in their schedule”. But the series was promptly picked up by the cable network E!, and a fourth series, ‘The Simple Life: ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ hit the small screen. This series saw the girls travel around California, acting out the unaccustomed roles of wife and mother to a variety of families. ‘The Simple Life 5: Malibu: Camp Simple Life’ was held up when Richie encountered further problems with her health.
Following the series, she attracted a string of other roles on TV, including guest appearances in ‘MADtv’, ‘8 Simple Rules’, ‘American Dreams’ and ‘Six Feet Under’. In addition to her success as a TV actress, Richie made her movie debut with a supporting role in ‘Kids in America’ in 2005. She has also appeared in her father’s music video, ‘I Call It Love’, alongside Adam Rodriguez.
Richie’s health has been the subject of tabloid speculation for years. In March 2006, she made headlines in the world’s press when photos of her looking much thinner than usual were published in the papers. Commenting on the photographs in an interview with Vanity Fair, she said: “I know I’m too thin right now, so I wouldn’t want any young girl looking at me and saying, ‘That’s what I want to look like.’” She also confessed that she had consulted a doctor and a nutritionist, as she’d been concerned that her problems might be rather more serious. Rumours also abounded that she had been seeing a psychiatrist and a personal trainer during the same period.
In September 2006, Richie refuted claims that she had an eating disorder, saying: “I am not anorexic: I am not bulimic: I do not have an eating disorder.” In another interview, this time with Elle Girl’s Prom Issue, Nicole said: “It upsets me when people come up to me and ask me if I have a problem.” Just one month later, it was announced in the press that she was seeking treatment for “an inability to put on weight, though it is not treatment for an eating disorder.” She was admitted to hospital in March 2007 because of dehydration and it was later announced that she had been diagnosed as suffering from hypoglycemia - or low blood sugar.
In spite of her health issues, Richie has succeeded in diversifying her career interests. In addition to her acting, she found time to write a novel and embark on a career as a recording artist and singer. Like Paris Hilton, Richie has also enjoyed success on the catwalk. She has been a model for Bongo Jeans, and Jimmy Choo. Given that she is the adopted daughter of Lionel Richie, it was only natural that she would be drawn to the music business. Whilst appearing on a talk show hosted by Tyra Banks, she told the presenter that her main career interest and focus has always been music. For a while, she sang with the rock band Darling, alongside fellow socialites, Soleil and Sofia Alberti.
In 2005, Richie wrote a novel called ‘The Truth About Diamonds’ – loosely based on her own life. The novel tells the story of Chloe Parker, the adopted daughter of a singer. The heroine battles with drugs and alcohol, while being seen at all the coolest nightclubs and parties in Hollywood. One of the other characters in the book, Simone Westlake, is thought to be based on Paris Hilton. In reality, her lifelong friendship with Paris was under threat. At the beginning of 2005, rumours were surfacing that the two girls had fallen out. By April, Hilton released a statement confirming the rumours. In addition, Hilton released a track on her self-titled album called ‘Jealousy’, which included the following lyrics: “I thought you were my best friend…You used to be that shoulder…you sold your soul for your fame.” Richie denied the rumours, saying: “There’s nothing that really happened, we’ve just grown apart”. In October, 2006, the girls patched up their differences and became friends once more.
Richie’s love life has been equally stormy and eventful. She found love in the music business back in 2002 when she dated Canadian music producer Brad Salyn. Salyn also produced several tracks on her debut album. After breaking up with him, Richie became engaged to DJ Adam Goldstein, who presented her with a stunning pink sapphire engagement ring shortly after he proposed. The couple had been dating since 2003, and had set a date for the wedding in 2006. Nine months later they broke up and the wedding was called off. Rumours of a reconciliation abounded, however, when the couple were seen together again in public in March 2006.
In August 2006, Richie began dating Brody Jenner, a longstanding friend of the Richie family. But any hopes of wedding bells were soon dashed when they broke up. Richie expressed her feelings on the short-lived romance quite plainly on her official MySpace blog, in order to lay any rumours to rest: “I know there are rumours concerning my ‘breakup’ with Brody Jenner. The truth is, we were never really together. We hung out, and he’s a nice guy, but my heart was never in it. Anything further is just a cry for publicity.”
Her jewellery line, House of Harlow 1960, was launched in October 2008 and she has subsequently expanded her business to include clothing and shoes. The 29-year-old’s Winter Kate clothes collection was launched in February 2010, and that same year she won Glamour Women of the Year’s Entrepreneur of the Year for her House of Harlow 1960 brand.
2010 was the year that Richie chose to return to writing and published her second novel, ‘Priceless’, which tells the tale of a girl who finds perspective when she loses everything. She has two children with her husband, Joel Madden, who is lead singer with the band Good Charlotte. The pair were married at Lionel Richie's Beverly Hills mansion in December 2010, and she asked her dad not to sing at the ceremony.
In a recent interview he admitted that he broke his promise when the singer who had been hired for the reception handed him the microphone. He said: “I got through the first and second verse of ‘You Are’. People started applauding and I said, 'This wasn't in the budget, I don't think we can afford Lionel Richie.” He added: “Regardless of how hip I think I am, I’m still under the title 'parent'. I sat down and it was Nic and Joel’s night.”