Kyle Richards was born into an acting family in Hollywood, California. She landed her first role at age four in Disney’s Escape to Witch Mountain, where she played the younger version of her sister, Kim Richards. Her other sister is Kathy Hilton–yes, Hilton Hotel’s Hilton–and mother to Paris Hilton. To call the family Hollywood royalty would be an understatement.
In 2010, Kyle, alongside her sister Kim, returned to the screen as an original cast members on Bravo’s Beverly Hills inception of their hit reality franchise, Real Housewives.
The Bravo-lebrity—a coin termed by the network for their talent—is now approaching her eighth season on the show, proving that if anyone can weather the rough waters of being a child star and come back for more, it’s her.
When we caught up with Richards, she more than lives up to her levelheaded portrayal on television. She’s just picked up her kids from school, who are shouting over her.
No Hollywood diva temperament here. She just asks them to quiet down while we chat, and they do.
“I got married very young; I was 18, and had my first baby at 19,” Richards begins. “I never got to do things like a girl’s trip.”
“When I first signed on to do the show, I thought: I’m afraid to fly. I don’t know if I can leave my kids. What am I going to do?” she reflects.
Remember, Richards signed on to the show before the Real Housewives franchise had become the cultural phenomenon it is today.
“I had no idea of what we were getting into. I was the first one to sign on,” she recalls. “As an actress who grew up on television I thought ‘okay,’ then ‘no,’ and then I thought, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’”
Richards already had a friend in Bethenny Frankel of Skinny Girl fame, who appears on Real Housewives of New York.
“Bethenny was a hostess at my family’s favorite restaurant in Beverly Hills,” she shares of how the two met.
“I went in one day and she slid into the booth next to me and said, ‘I’m dating your ex-boyfriend. I have a question to ask you: I was looking in his medicine cabinet and saw Lancôme eye cream and make-up remover. Is that yours? I said yes, and then she asked me: ‘Who spends twenty-dollars on eye cream remover?’”
She says they both shared a laugh, and became fast friends. In 2008, Bethenny debuted on Real Housewives of New York, and served as a sounding board for Richard’s decision to join the Beverly Hills cast. Now Richards finds herself in Bethenny’s shoes, guiding new Housewives.
“I had one of the girls from Dallas over, and she asked me for some advice,” she shares.
I remarked that it must be flattering. You can’t imagine they go soliciting advice from Housewives who come off poorly on screen.
“I never thought about it like that. I should take it as a compliment. Thanks,” she says with a laugh.
“It’s hard because some of the cast members seem like they’ll do anything. It feels like they have nothing to lose. They will stoop so low. I’m not going to name names, but we’ve had cast members on our show like that.
For me, I have a lot to lose. I’m a mother to four kids. I need to be able to go through the carpool and not be humiliated.”.
Point made, given she’s literally just picked up her kids.
“How do these women behave like this?” Richards continues. “Even though there are moments, we try to keep the behavior at a level that’s appropriate.”
One of the show’s most famously toxic moments involved a dinner with Allison DuBois, a famous psychic and medium on whom the TV show Medium was based.
“Oh my God. That woman,” she pauses.
“The funny thing is, I actually felt bad for her. She was so awful. Supposedly, she had a show she was going to do, and then the producers decided not to do it because she was so disliked.”
After that moment, Richards wanted to continue the show in a good light.
“After seven years, we just try to lives our lives as real and honest as we can,” she explains. “We’re not pulling each other’s hair; we’re not having these horrible fights. You’re seeing a small part of our lives and, while it can be dramatic and entertaining, we also want to have a positive message.”
Having a positive message certainly doesn’t mean they’re showing viewers their lives through rose-colored lenses. Richards has stood along side her sister Kim, whose own struggles with addiction and depression have played out on screen.
“So many people have approached me and said, ‘I appreciate you sharing your struggles with your sister, you have no idea how much better it makes us feel to know we’re not the only one,’” she shares.
Statistically, the LGBT community is more susceptible to addiction and depression. It’s given the sisters a strong gay and lesbian fan base who identify with Richards’ sister’s struggle, as well as how the two manage their relationship while battling these demons.
“People struggling with addiction issues go up to my sister, are happy she shared her story, and are cheering her on,” Richards explains. “People say, ‘I was going through a hard time with an ailment, depression or addiction, and I look forward to watching your show every week.’ So hopefully it brings some happiness with its ability to relate.”
Richards isn’t afraid to use her platform of visibility to stand with her LGBT fan base. She’s appeared—clad in purple—for Bravo’s Spirit Day promotions, as well as been shot for the NoH8 Campaign.
“I have a lot of very close friends who are LGBT,” she says. “I look at what they’ve gone through to get what they have. Honestly, they are some of the most beautiful families. I want my children to be raised with the idea that there is no difference between someone who has two dads or two moms, or one dad and one mom.”
It’s a message she’s passing to her children. She brought her daughter Portia to be a part of the NoH8 photo shoot.
“I actually ended up getting heat for it. People are just so closed-minded,” she defends.
“I have gay, lesbian and transgender friends, and my kids do not think any differently of them. That’s how I’m raising them.”
When asked if she has a message, Richards hits the nail on the head.
“We’ve come so far. Years ago people didn’t understand what it meant to transgender,” she explains. “Now we not only understand it, but we understand that we have to be more inclusive. It really is the older generation that holds onto their closed-mindedness.”
Following this year’s election cycle, it’s a much-needed message.
“I’m hoping that a lot of what Trump said was just hype,” she says in closing. “I’m hoping and praying that he won’t go through with his threats. I do not think he’s as conservative as he claims to be. We’ve come so far. We cannot go backwards.”
And when it comes to her message for the LGBT community, her message is simple and straightforward.
“I love you. Be you. Be proud. Continue to live your best life.” V
Kyle’s Holidays In Beverly Hills
What was your favorite part of the holidays?
I didn’t have a typical childhood, so I make the house look like a Christmas store. My whole family teases me because I always want to put my tree up so early and they tell me I have to wait.
So, how early is too early to decorate?
Never. I like to put up a tree before Thanksgiving, with no decorations. Then after Thanksgiving I make it more “Christmas-y.”
What is your tip for that hard-to-buy-for person?
I always buy something beautiful that could go in anybody’s home; something classic, but neutral.
Are you a big baker around the holidays?
Yes, I love baking and cooking with family. I make the best Christmas dinner. Growing up, it was all of us in the kitchen helping.
What’s your signature dish?
My sister and I are definitely competitive when it comes to cooking turkey. We have a little cook-off every year.
What is your favorite thing your husband has gotten you?
Last year he heard—because I told him, through the grapevine, through me—that I wanted these earrings from Martin Katz. Last year I got him a Hermes Apple Watch and he doesn’t wear it. I’m just like, “Oh I’ll just wear this.”
Your have the most fabulous hair of all the Housewives. When can we get a hair care line for Christmas?
One day I probably will, when I have the time I’ll probably do an easy step-by-step thing. I take care of my hair like a lot of women do their skin or their body. I baby it. I’m very neurotic: If someone brushes it, snags it, and I hear that ripping sound, I go a little crazy.
Until then, any tips for fabulous holiday hair?
I tell my kids to start from the bottom and work your way up. You can’t go from the top; that’s how you rip your hair. I don’t use a blow dryer or curling iron, unless I have to. I also use a mask on my hair. I’m just really cautious. I don’t abuse it, at all.
Do you have any plans for New-Year’s Eve?
I hate New Year’s Eve. And I do not like the word hate, but I do. My ideal New Year’s Eve is to be in the mountains, in a cabin, with snow, cooking and playing games, and being with people I love.