Small screen queen Lisa Rinna is one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood with her iconic but ever-evolving look, prodigious talent, infectious energy and savvy business acumen. In the realm of television, few can boast such an enduring and prolific career as her. Currently, she owns and operates Rinna Beauty and Rinna Wines, both brands which were started during her tenure on ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’.
Lisa, how do you look back on your career and how it led you to where you are today?
I think just saying yes has been a very important word in my vocabulary. And I think by saying yes to so many different things in my career, it’s led me to where I am today. We always start out thinking “I want to do this and I’m just going to be an actor and it’s going to be great”. And then life presents all kinds of opportunities and I have been so blessed by all these different opportunities that have come my way. I’ve been in this business now for 35 years, which is a really long time indeed, and to still be doing what I love and to be doing really everything that I’ve always wanted to do has just been a real gift.
You are known as the small screen queen, which made you one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood. In what ways did this title help you in your career and in what ways would you say it might have also been a ‘curse’?
I started in soap operas and that is very low on the totem pole when it comes to the acting world. It’s like the lowest rang on the acting chain, but it’s really one of the greatest places that you can learn. It’s one of the greatest training grounds. Everybody rates all the different shows, small screen, big screen, movies, all of it. So I think what has really helped me is I didn’t ever judge whether I was on the small screen or whether I should have been on the big screen.
Growing up in my town and in my house, being on a soap opera was like the coolest thing you could ever do. So when I first got my job on a soap opera, I thought “This is the greatest thing ever. I’ve made it”. And so I’d never judged whether I was doing something that people considered cool or not. And I think that for me, by embracing that and thinking that, I’m just so grateful to have a job and to be working as an actor. I think it benefited me because I embraced it and somewhat owned it. I’ve always owned what I’ve done and I’ve always felt really proud of it. And that translates in how you present yourself.
You have also appeared in many reality shows, most notably in ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’. What made you decide to step into this genre of TV?
It started with ‘Dancing With the Stars’. I was offered to be on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and I was so glad that I did it. It was so much fun and it opened up a whole new world for me. And it really changed my life in a lot of ways.
I did that, I had such a great experience and then I ended up doing some other shows. Not always the greatest experience, but I’ve always learned so much from that experience. And I think also back in that day there was a writer’s strike and there was no work going on, so reality TV was the only thing available. Out of joy and out of necessity I just opened myself up to it.
During your tenure on ‘RHOBH’, you started two brands of your own, Rinna Beauty and Rinna Wines. Tell us more about what inspired your decision to start your own businesses, what are you currently working on within both brands and what are the plans for the future.
If you’re going to do a show like the ‘Real Housewives’ franchise, you have to have something to sell and something to do. Otherwise why enter that platform. I had been doing QVC when I first started, selling my Lisa Rinna collection of apparel, and I did that for eight years. And I had my store Belle Gray for 10 years, so I’ve been entrepreneurial for a while. It just seemed like the right addition to be on that show, to have great real estate on the network like Bravo and then to launch more products if possible.
I’d always wanted to do a lip brand, a beauty brand, a lip kit, a lip line. And so I had been developing that for a while and was able to launch that. Then toward the end of my run on ‘Real Housewives’, I was able to launch Rina Wines. After going to Provence on the show and having great time, I thought why don’t I launch Rina Wines. It really all came very organically. My lips obviously have had their own career, so I always thought we should use that. I had those opportunities and I took them.
Being a businesswoman, there’s a real learning curve to it. I mean, not everything succeeds. Some things have a timeline and they run their course. And that’s how you learn. I love business and I have learned so much. I was 57 years old when I launched my beauty business and that’s very rare in this industry.
Besides that, you are also an accomplished New York Times best-selling author, having released three books. In what capacity do you think your iconic TV career contributed to their success and you becoming a best-selling author?
I think that absolutely everything contributes to everything. So it absolutely did. I wrote ‘Rinnavation’, my book that hit the New York Times Bestseller list, in 2008 and it came out in 2009. And I have decided to write kind of the follow up to it, which I’m working on now. It’s 14 years later, so it’ll be where I am in my life now and how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve learned. I think it’s going to be really funny because I have a look at my life right now and I have such a sense of humor about it. I’m really excited to get into the process of writing this book and sharing it because I’m so much different than I was 14 years ago.
Since leaving ‘RHOBH’ last year, we were able to see you taking fashion world by a storm. What do you love the most about fashion? What does fashion mean to you?
My love of fashion came before my love for acting and performing. And being able to really realize it at this point in my life has been such a joy because it’s always been a very big part of my life. To be able to travel the world and go to shows and celebrate my love of fashion has just been a moment that I didn’t necessarily expect. It really came out of the blue. About a month after I left ‘Real Housewives’, I got a call from Kenzo in Paris to attend their show and that started the whole thing right there. It’s been so much fun. I’m going to go again. New York Fashion Week and then Milan and Paris. I’m having the time of my life.
I just think that it is so amazing to get to create and express yourself through fashion. I always have. And I celebrate and love all the designers. They’re so creative and they’re so amazing. And then my girls are in the business and they’re walking fashion shows and they’re doing it all. It’s so fun to get to share that as a family and be able to talk about it and celebrate it. Harry and I are so proud of what these girls have been able to accomplish in such a short time and at such a young age.
Your unique and eclectic taste in fashion was also a part of your fashion line that you did back in 2012 with QVC. If you would design a new collection today, how would it look like? What would inspire it?
I’m actually thinking of doing another one. I’ve been already talking about it and thinking about it. And I think it would really have to do with very simple chic pieces tha trevert back to classic and quiet luxury because it’s really about that. In my day-to-day life, it’s about sustainability, being comfortable, cozy and chic, so I would build it around those adjectives.
Wellness and taking care of yourself reflects in you being a fitness enthusiast. You even released a series of exercise DVDs for Warner Home Video, called ‘Lisa Rinna: Dance Body Beautiful‘. How important is it for a woman to take the time for herself and her body, no matter how busy the schedule is?
To me, it’s so much more than just my body. It’s mind, body, soul. And it’s like brushing my teeth. I wouldn’t go a day without brushing my teeth. I think it’s really important to take care of yourself, be as healthy as possible. For me, it’s really about consistency.
I started working out really as a kid because I played competitive tennis. I started playing at six years old and as I got older, my knees kind of gave out at 18 and I needed to find other ways to excercise. I found Jazzercise, which was an aerobics type of a class that I just fell in love with. And so I got into that aerobics craze because it was fun and because of great music. I have always found that I feel better, my mental health is better if I work out.
As a mother to two daughters embarking on their own life journey as adults, what values and lessons have you taught them? What is the most important advice you have given them?
Harry and I are very connected to our children and we’ve always had such an open line of communication. And I think you also teach by example. Harry and I are both very professional, very hard workers. But on top of all of it, what we’ve really instilled in the girls is kindness and being kind to people.
Of course we teach them all sorts of things, like if you have a job, you go to work, you don’t complain cause nobody cares. If you need to go in the bathroom, have a good cry, call somebody, call one of us, but then you pull yourself together and you go back out and you do your job. If you’re going to commit to something, you do it. There’s many things that we’ve taught them, but I think the most important lesson is kindness and being kind to everyone, no matter if they’re the CEO of a company or the janitor that’s cleaning your bathroom at the job that you’ve just done. Everyone is important and you need to be kind to everyone.
And also having gratitude. It’s so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of negativity and being hard on yourself. We’ve always tried to instill in the girls a form of self-confidence and feeling good and giving back to people. It’s not always about you. We’ve tried to show the girls giving back and charitable works from a very young age. And we worked a lot with Project Angel Food, which is a food delivery service for people who have cancer and who are sick. We have brought the girls there since they were very young, to pack food and make bracelets and do all sorts of things. They grew up in a very charitable environment where you get to see people of all walks of life and you get to give back.
What can you share with us about your upcoming, exciting projects that you are currently working on?
We have a lot of things in the works, which is really exciting. I’m so grateful that I had that eight years on ‘Real Housewives’. I left when I did and when one door closes, another one opens. I feel like 20 have opened, so that’s what’s really exciting. And I just keep saying yes and I will continue to say yes and see where it takes me.
Talent: Lisa Rinna
Photographer: Dana Trippe
Stylist: Danyul Brown @ The Only Agency
Makeup: Michael Anthony @ Forward Artists using YSL Beauty
Hair: Ricky Fraser @ The Only Agency using Unite Hair
Styling assistants: Molly Mundy & Nik Vandalen
Makeup assistant: Jack Hargreaves
Hair assistant: Zach Birch
Editor: Timi Letonja
This interview was done for Numéro Netherlands by Jana Letonja.