Whatever Happened To Nicole Richie?

Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of drug and alcohol abuse, and eating disorders.

Where would be without reality television? Odds are, we likely never would have met Snooki, the Kardashians wouldn't be where they are today, and 2023 would've been a little duller without Scandoval. Reality television surged in popularity during the early aughts, with the introduction of beloved shows like "Big Brother," "The Bachelor," and "The Osbournes." It was around this time that Fox introduced the world to a little show called "The Simple Life" in 2003, which starred Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton.

The stars were childhood friends who were already in the public eye due to their famous families and socialite status when they starred on the show. Viewers became enamored with "The Simple Life," which depicted Richie and Hilton learning how to live without their money and privilege and taking on hard work around the country for the first time in their lives. The series lasted until 2007, and while the hotel heiress maintained her public profile, Richie's spotlight seemed to dim.

So, what exactly has Lionel Richie's daughter been up to since 2007? A surprising amount, it turns out; from her trouble with the law to her health issues, becoming a parent, and branching out into ventures outside of reality television, Richie has been keeping herself very busy over the years.

She served time for a DUI immediately after The Simple Life

Like many of the it girls of the '00s, including Tara Reid and Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie was known for her hard-partying lifestyle. Sadly, her use of drugs and alcohol resulted in several repercussions, including getting sentenced to rehab in 2003 for the possession of heroin. A few years later, just as "The Simple Life" was wrapping its final season, Richie was arrested again, this time for a DUI after she was seen driving in the wrong direction on the freeway.

In August 2007, almost a year after the incident and shortly before she was sentenced to 90 hours in jail, the reality star spoke on "Good Morning America" (via People), saying, "I literally thought I was okay to drive and clearly wasn't. It was bad decision after bad decision after bad decision. It's been a pattern in my life. When I get into trouble, I try to get out of it." Richie was released from her brief jail sentence after just 82 minutes, similarly to Paris Hilton's five days spent in jail in June of that year, and Lohan's 84 minutes in November 2007.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Nicole Richie was diagnosed with hypoglycemia in 2007

At the height of Nicole Richie's legal troubles, she was also dealing with health issues. Her weight has fluctuated over the years, and in speaking with Vanity Fair in 2006, she dispelled the rumors she had an eating disorder. "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.' ... I'm not happy with the way I look right now," Richie explained. She added that she was struggling to put on weight and had been consulting with specialists to determine why.

Her representative gave People an update in March 2007, saying, "In her ongoing effort to focus on her well-being, Nicole has recently been diagnosed with hypoglycemia." They added that Richie was seeking treatment for the low blood sugar condition. Despite being open with the public about her health issues, the tabloids have been relentless over the years. In January 2014, Star Magazine reported that Richie had dropped to 88 pounds and was "anorexic again," something the star has vehemently denied several times.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

She became a mom in 2008

Nicole Richie started dating Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden in December 2006, and seven months later they announced they were expecting a baby. Not long after the announcement, the reality star got into trouble with her DUI charge and it was almost splitsville for the couple. However, they worked things out and welcomed their little girl Harlow to the world in January 2008.

When her daughter was just a few months old, Richie spoke with Harper's Bazaar in May 2008 about her new life as a mother. When asked what surprised her most about becoming a parent, she replied, "Hmm, I would say how fun it is. Everybody talks about how difficult it is in the first three months, but I absolutely love it."

In September 2009, Richie and Madden had a baby boy named Sparrow, making them a happy family of four. The couple got married in December 2010 in what was described as an intimate ceremony, and the two have proved a loving couple since.

Nicole Richie became heavily involved in philanthropic work

As much as she's been known for her scandalous behavior and wacky on-screen persona, one aspect of Nicole Richie's life that definitely isn't talked about enough is how often she's given back. She has been involved in a number of charitable efforts, including the Richie-Madden Children's Foundation, which she started with her husband Joel Madden in 2007. The organization aims to provide assistance to expectant mothers whilst also raising awareness around issues children face in America regarding their human rights, healthcare, education, and more.

In May 2008, Richie spoke with People about what inspired her and her family to start their foundation. "When I got pregnant, my friends and family gave us so much stuff, I wanted to help give other mothers that feeling. It's not fair some women get pregnant and their first thought is, 'How am I going to put food on the table and how will I clothe them?' I think when Harlow is old enough to know she helped me do this, she will be really happy," she explained. In addition to her foundation, Richie and Madden have been involved in other charities like Baby2Baby, DoSomething, UNICEF, and many more over the years.

She started House of Harlow 1960

By 2008, "The Good Life" was over and Nicole Richie was looking for something to pour her creative efforts into. She had been one of the many style icons rocking '00s fashion trends that deserve to make a comeback, so starting her own jewelry line seemed like the natural next step for the star. She started House of Harlow 1960, named after her daughter Harlow Winter Kate Madden, and began designing her own accessories. The following year, Richie expanded to a clothing line called Winter Kate and has since evolved her businesses into a lifestyle brand.

In speaking with Who What Wear in April 2012, the fashionista detailed her inspiration behind the looks. "For me, everything starts with music. I am hugely inspired by the '60s and the '70s, I just love the overall freedom of that time. I love that the idea of clashing didn't really exist, and you were able to mix fabrics and mix prints and mix bold colors," Richie said.

Nicole Richie published her second book in 2010

In 2005, Nicole Richie had published her first novel, "The Truth About Diamonds," and many were quick to speculate about the novel's parallels to her real life. The story followed a princess who was part of the Hollywood elite, had been adopted by a music legend, and had a blond best friend who was "famous for being famous." Of course there were similarities, but when she debuted her second book in 2010, "Priceless," Richie seemed to base her story less on her public persona.

Richie spoke with Vanity Fair in October of that year and compared her two publications. "['The Truth About Diamonds'] was totally fiction. As a writer, you write from your own experiences. So, you know, you can take what you want from that. But with 'Priceless,' it was more about examining this thing that every young girl goes through. ... When you're living in a big city, there are so many struggles and challenges just to make your presence known and be an individual. So I took that idea and turned it into a fiction story," Richie explained.

She ran into probation issues

After Nicole Richie ran into trouble with the law in 2006, she was placed on probation and was required to attend alcohol education courses. She was on track to have her probation terminated in July 2010 but hadn't gone to enough of her mandatory courses, so the judge extended her probation to March 2011. Richie's reasons for not completing the terms of her probation were reportedly down to her busy schedule as a mother of two, and she had previously been granted an extension to have her second child. Some have argued that the judge's leniency is yet another example of celebrities receiving special treatment.

Luckily, Richie took the remainder of her courses quickly and managed to have her probation terminated by the end of 2010. According to the Daily Mail, the star's alcohol education assessment reflected her stellar performance, reading, "Her attitude is excellent."

Nicole Richie served as a judge on Fashion Star in 2012

Nicole Richie knows her niche, and she managed to secure a project in 2012 that complemented her expertise brilliantly: reality television and fashion. Alongside Jessica Simpson and John Varvatos, she served as a judge on "Fashion Star." The NBC competition series showcased contestants striving to make the best clothes with limited time and materials in pursuit of a chance to win a multimillion-dollar collection deal with leading retailers.

In May 2012, Richie spoke with Harper's Bazaar about how the show had been beneficial for her and her brand Winter Kate, saying, "'Fashion Star' has been an incredible platform to show America the amount of work and discussion that goes into each garment you see in a store. I am proud that my collections have received such praise, and I am even more proud to share the stage with so many talented designers." Unfortunately, "Fashion Star" was only on the air for a couple years, but by the time it was canceled in 2013, Richie already had something else in the works.

Her next reality show Candidly Nicole premiered in 2014

Back in 2014, while Paris Hilton was focusing on her DJ career and entrepreneurial efforts, her former co-star was making a return to the screen with "Candidly Nicole." The faux-reality series was inspired by Nicole Richie's Twitter account and centered around her opinions on the world as well as what she got up to in her day to day life.

The star spoke about the show while promoting it on "Good Morning America" in July 2014, saying, "I use Twitter to make fun of myself, and that's how I use the show. And you know, it's not realty, it's not scripted, it's kind of a place in between, what I like to call real life comedy. And I love to explore, I love to learn, and more importantly, I like to have fun and I've kind of found a space where I can do all three, and it's just so much fun." While "Candidly Nicole" ran for just two seasons and received mixed reviews, fans of "The Simple Life" were undoubtedly thrilled to see Richie on their television screens again.

Nicole Richie became the new face of Urban Decay

By 2017, Nicole Richie had conquered reality television, accessories, clothes, and literature. She'd officially left her "The Simple Life" persona behind and was proving herself as a successful business woman, and what says "slaying it" more than becoming a brand ambassador for makeup brand Urban Decay? Richie became the face of their Troublemaker mascara in September of that year, and later went on to promote several of their other products.

In February 2018, Richie shared with People why she admires makeup and how it can empower women. "Makeup has ... power. You can transform yourself into another being, which I think is really amazing. I know women who feel most like themselves when they have a full face of makeup on and that makes them feel strong about themselves. We as women have every tool that we need in order to feel our strongest, best self. I don't think that makeup has to hide you. I think it can accentuate what you already have," she stated.

Nicole Richie landed a recurring role on Great News

If you can believe it, Nicole Richie had an acting career before she starred on "The Simple Life," albeit a minor one. She had a couple of one-off appearances on TV shows in '04 and '05, even appearing on a couple episodes of "Chuck" after her series ended. Finally in 2017, Richie landed her first recurring role on a scripted show when she was cast as Portia Scott-Griffith on NBC's "Great News." The workplace comedy only ran for two seasons for a total of 23 episodes, but it was well received in its time, and Richie was even praised for her performance.

Apparently, another actor had played Portia in the pilot, but she was recast. It was because of Tina Fey executive producing the show that Richie even had a shot, as she told Vulture in April 2024. "My agents brought it to me. One of them had worked with Tina in the past. It was a real surprise. I mean, it was very much a shot in the dark. ... I didn't think I was going to get it. But '30 Rock' is one of my all-time-favorite shows, and Tina Fey is one of the funniest people I've ever watched on television," Richie remarked.

She debuted her alter ego Nikki Fre$h with a show and comedy rap album

Nicole Richie has had a stunning transformation over the years, but nobody could have guessed the sharp turn her career was going to take in 2020. She took on the eco-conscious alter ego Nikki Fre$h and dropped the comedy rap album "Unearthed." To accompany her songs about saving the bees and cutting down on food waste, Quibi debuted an eponymous show on which Richie spoke to experts like Bill Nye and Martin Riese and came up with over the top ways to go green.

Richie spoke with Variety about this new alter ego of hers in April 2020, saying the inspiration all stemmed from gardening. "I fell in love with [gardening] and I started hashtagging all of my harvests on Instagram because that's what Oprah does, so I was like, 'I have to also.' And I developed what I like to call a little bit of a cult following. ... I decided that I was gonna have a gardening stage name, and her name was going to be Nikki Fre$h. ... It's the natural evolution, in my opinion. And then, Nikki Fre$h just sounds like a good musical name as well," Richie explained.

Nicole Richie has continued her acting career

While Nicole Richie is no stranger to the camera, many of the reality star's scripted on-screen projects have been either television shows or minor characters in made for TV movies. However, by 2024, Nicole Richie had landed a role in Wade Allain-Marcus' remake of the 1991 comedy movie "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead." While the reception to the film was lukewarm, Richie seems to be continuing her acting career: She has yet another film set to release in 2024 called "Summer Camp."

Her adoptive father Lionel Richie, along with many of her other close family members, were there to support her at the premiere of her movie. While promoting "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead" on "Today" in April 2024, Richie explained how her dad couldn't contain his excitement while watching the movie. "My dad was very loud, you guys. He kept talking the whole movie. He was like, 'Oh, this is great. Oh, my God, I can't believe it. Oh, she is so funny!' And I was like, 'Dad. We're in a room full of people.' And my mom was the same, just as bad," she remarked. Odds are we'll be seeing a lot more of Richie's acting chops in years to come.

She is starring in a new reality show with Paris Hilton

Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton used to be inseparable, from their childhood into "The Simple Life" and their adventures together on the Hollywood party scene. However, the socialites' also had an iconic feud that caused issues on the set of their show back in 2005. And although they reconciled not long afterward, they never seemed to be as close as they once were.

In April 2020, Richie told Entertainment Weekly why a reboot of "The Simple Life" just wouldn't be possible at this stage in her life, saying, "We're almost 40 years old, and I can't imagine leaving my kids. We've got real jobs now. We were 20 or 21 when we did it. It was like backpacking through Europe: something you do in your 20s."

However, any hope fans had at an on-screen reunion between the two besties was revived in May 2024 when Richie shared on her Instagram a sneak peek of a new Peacock reality series they'll be working on together. A couple days after she shared the teaser trailer for it, Richie spoke with "Good Morning America" about what fans can expect (without revealing too much). "It's been 20 years since Paris and I worked together, and we ... wanted to celebrate that. ... We have worked together to create something very special and exciting, and I can't wait for it to come out," she teased.