Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton helped define reality TV with The Simple Life. Socialites living and working in Middle America was a perfect fit for the mid-2000s Fox lineup, premiering to 13 million people and leading to years of tabloids fascinated with Richie and Hilton. Hilton went on to have a career as a DJ, while Nicole has recently been working as a fashion designer. But it’s taken a lot to get from being known as Paris Hilton’s friend to a respected designer. Let’s look at how she got to where she is today.
Lionel & Nicole Richie
Nicole Richie was born as Nicole Camille Escovedo in 1981. Her father was actually a friend and musician who worked with Lionel Richie, the famous musician and producer. When she was three, Nicole moved into the Richie household, because her parents thought that Lionel and his significant other as they believed he would be able to take better financial care of her.
By the time she was nine, Nicole was adopted by Lionel and Brenda Harvey. Almost immediately after, the public became aware of Lionel’s adultery, which led to a bitter and highly publicized separation. This meant that anything Nicole wanted, the Richies gave her, in an attempt to mitigate the stress caused by their breakup.
While living with Lionel Nicole Richie attended Montclair Prep, an exclusive high school in Los Angeles, and afterwards studied for two years in the early 2000s at the University of Arizona before leaving to move home to California.
The Simple Life
In 2003, shortly after she returned to California, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton starred in the MTV reality show The Simple Life, where they spent a month living in Altus, Arkansas with a farming family. According to the producers, the show was inspired by Green Acres, a sitcom from the 60s where a New York socialite couple moved to a farm. At the same time, Paris Hilton was in talks with Fox’s casting department.
Originally the show planned to send Paris and her younger sister Nicky, but Nicky wasn’t looking to be put on TV. Paris pitched doing the show by herself, but at the studio’s insistence, asked friends if they’d want to be in the project with her. After several friends declined, Nicole Richie agreed, and the two moved in with the Leding family in Altus, Arkansas.
The show did well for its first three seasons, but a falling out between Richie and Hilton led to difficulties producing a fourth season. After some banter between publicists for the girls and Fox Studios, Fox cancelled the show in October 2005.
Immediately, networks started bidding for the rights to the show, and by November, E! picked up production and syndication rights. A fourth season was shot with Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton, who had found a way to work comfortably together. However, during production of the 5th season Paris and Nicole were facing DUI charges, and Nicole was struggling with eating disorders which even led to her being briefly hospitalized. After filming wrapped, Paris had to serve 23 days in jail for her DUI charge, while Nicole was only jailed for 4 days.
Despite the setbacks, production finished ahead of schedule, leading to E! planning a sixth and seventh season. However, the network changed their mind, and the series wrapped up after the fifth season. Through its run, the show was nominated for several Teen Choice Awards, and the first season won them an ASCAP and BMI (two music unions) awards for their scoring.
The Simple Life helped introduce Nicole Richie to the wider world of acting, and after Fox cancelled the show, she decided to try her hand in the acting world via Kids in America. Over the next few years, she’d guest star in multiple TV series, including Six Feet Under, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, Chuck, and American Dreams. She also released a novel in 2005, The Truth About Diamonds.
What’s Nicole Richie Doing Now in 2018 – Recent Updates
After the end of The Simple Life, Richie continued to build celebrity upon her celebrity. She had a daughter and son with Joel Madden, the lead singer of Good Charlotte. Harlow Winter Kate Madden was born in early 2008, and Sparrow James Midnight Madden was born in 2009.
Shortly after Harlow’s birth, Nicole Richie debuted House of Harlow 1960, a line of jewelry. In 2010, she extended the line to clothing and shoes. That year she also released her second novel, Priceless, and won “Entrepreneur of the Year” at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards. Her fashion line was also nominated at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards.
By 2011, House of Harlow 1960 was also producing handbags, and being sold in major retailers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. She also became one of the three judges on NBC’s Fashion Stars, which ran for two seasons from 2011 until 2013.
Nicole Richie’s House of Harlow 1960 fashion line has continued to expand, and in 2016 has released even more clothing, focusing on what has become Richie’s signature kimono dresses. At this point, for those in the fashion world, Richie is known more for her developments of West Coast Bohemian style than her stint as a reality TV star, and as her products continue to gain traction in stores, it’s likely that over the next few years, more people will consider her more of a designer than just Paris Hilton’s friend.