The Fall And Rise Of Nicole Richie

I was reading a magazine interview on Nicole Richie a few days ago and was stunned at how beautiful and graceful Nicole looked. In the interview she talked about giving her children more stability than her parents provided her growing up. In the September issue of DuJour magazine, the 30-year-old Winter Kate fashion designer opens up about how being raised in the entertainment industry influenced her ideas about motherhood.

“One of the biggest differences in the way I’m raising my kids versus the way I was raised is that I was on tour a lot. I don’t really do that with my kids,” Nicole says. “It’s important to me that they have stability. I like them to be home.”

Nicole was raised in L.A. by her adoptive parents, chart-topping singer Lionel Richie and his then-wife, Brenda. “I was taken out of school and had tutors,” Nicole recalls. “By the time my father went onstage, I was asleep.”

“There’s no right or wrong way to raise a family,” says Nicole, whose Hollywood pals growing up included Khloe Kardashian and Paris Hilton. “Look, I don’t know anyone who can say they don’t just try and do the best that they can do.”

SIDENOTE: I was pleasantly shocked as I’m sure other readers where at her approach to parenting. This is a woman who we watched struggle with drug addiction and was as unstable as the wind blew.

I recall how her father Lionel Richie had done all he could to help her overcome her addiction and was at his wits’ end. I still recall the newspaper headlines that emphasized her addiction and DUI arrest. What happened and how did all of that change?


For many it may shock them to know that Nicole Richie is not the biological daughter of Lionel Richie, although Lionel is extremely fair in complexion and could pass for a multiracial American.

Nicole Richies’ ethnicity is of Mexican, African American and Creole on her biological paternal side. The ancestry of her biological mother is unknown. This would explain her extreme fair complexion which could make a lot of people assume she were a Caucasian woman.

Adopted at a young age by singer/songwriter, musician, record producer and actor Lionel Richie and his ex-wife Brenda Harvey, the young Richie lived the life most can only dream of. However, when one examines the lives of Hollywood celebrities, it is not all gold and glitter. Shortly after the adoption was formalized, Lionel’s affair with another woman became public knowledge and Lionel and Brenda went through a bitter, public split.

As a result, they indulged Nicole’s every whim. “Their way of making me happy was to say yes to everything I wanted, but I don’t think a little girl should have that much freedom,” said Richie in an interview with Vanity Fair.

SIDENOTE: We can begin to see thatNicole’s earlier woes started from the time of the Richie’ divorce. Her biological parents gave her to the Richies’ to provide her with stability and a home more financially sound. Things took a slightly rough turn when her new parents could no longer provide that stability.

I don’t know any young child that wouldn’t react to constantly moving and in this case moving from one home to another. She grows up knowing one set of people as her parents then, she’s introduced to another set and as soon as she learns to trust them and become familiar with her new enviroment…boom they decide to split.

Early Life

Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie - 2004 Teen Choice AwardsWhile attending Elementary School at The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, California in 1986, she met Paris Hilton. After she graduated high school, she attended the University of Arizona alongside  celebrities Kourtney Kardashian and Luke Walton, where she studied Arts and Media.

Richie did not have a definitive study plan in Arizona, and eventually dropped out after two years and returned to California.

SIDENOTE: I personally did not know she attended college and I’m sure a lot of readers are unaware as well.

It seems there was a different side the public did not know about Richie. She seems a very intelligent woman as she’s even been described as such by legendary music producer Quincy Jones. I believe in her quest for a more ‘normal’ life, she decided to leave California for Arizona. Why else would she attend a university in Arizona?

Sometimes in our bid to escape the things that bring us sorrow or are a reminder of them, we are compelled to run from our problems. The only solution to whatever problem we face in life is to approach them. Running from our problems only equates to one thing – they run after us. It’s a vicious cycle if not dealt with immediately. 

Early Career

In 2003, Richie and her former bestfriend Paris Hilton starred in the reality series The Simple Life, in which they lived for a month with a family in the rural community of Altus, Arkansas. The series premiere debuted on Fox on December 2, 2003, to thirteen million viewers, increasing Fox’s Adults 18-49 rating to 79%. The series continued for a second and third season, and Richie achieved superstardom for her out-spoken, comedic persona.

By the time their hit reality TV series was extended into its fifth season, Richie and Hilton had each spent time in jail and had fallen out to an ‘undisclosed situation’. Their series went off the air but Richie was still struggling with her addiction and the constant slander by the media. It seemed she was trying to make a change but would occasionally relapse.

In 2006 after dating a few people here and there, she met and began dating Good Charlotte lead singer Joel Madden. This relationship would later blossom into marriage and would produce two children: Harlow Winter Kate Madden (born 2008) and son Sparrow James Midnight Madden (born 2009).

Though she struggled with drug use in her teens and was even arrested for a DUI alongside her former pal Paris Hilton, the former reality TV star doesn’t blame her parents for her bad behavior.

SIDENOTE: There’s a certain lifestyle synonymous with Hollywood Kids (the 90210-ers) that’s associated with drinking, partying and living the wild life. Some are fortunate to go through it as a phase and some get caught up in it. It later develops into an addiction that takes years and years to rehabilitate. 

Richie was no stranger to this lifestyle and it consumed her early years. She has access to money, had famous friends and her name opened doors for her. I guess as a teenager or young adult that’s all the excuse you need to live reckless and she did her fair share of that. 

“Most often the company you keep will determine the trouble you meet.”  ~Unknown

 If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that she was trying to engage in things that would bring her joy and pleasure (her friendship with Hilton and the reality TV series) but both fell through. I can only imagine how the loss of her friendship with Hilton must have caused a relapse in her progress. It’s one thing to break up with a boyfriend or fiancee but it’s another to break up with a trusted friend who knows all of your secrets. Those types of losses cause a lot of pain and heartache.

I’m sure her unstable childhood and the event that led to the collapse with her bestfriend Paris Hilton triggered old memories and brought old wounds to to surface. I can only imagine how she felt.


Anyone who followed the media’s account of Richie and Madden could see a positive change in her life. She was more stable, focused and she appeared ‘clean’.

Madden was so smitten by her, he wanted a life-long relationship with her. He recalls how he begged her to be his wife:

‘My wife is pretty good at rejecting me. ‘People don’t know this but I asked her to marry me ten times before she actually said yes. I was asking every other Tuesday.’

Host Jules Lund then asked: ‘What made that tenth one different? How did she break? What did you bring out that was different?’
To which Joel replied: ‘I pulled out the kids! I said, ‘Do you really wanna do this to these kids?’ I’m just kidding. I’m passive aggressive.’

SIDENOTE: It seemed something magical happened when she met Joel Madden. He understood her pain, her life and loved her despite it all. Was this the beginning of a new dawn in the life of Richie? Yes!

Question: How does a junkie become so valuable that a man begs for her hand in marriage? After all, there are a million women out there more beautiful than her, that have never had a run-in with the law or had a history of substance abuse?!?

Answer: Nicole had a rough past. But who has not experienced hardship in life? If you’ve never experienced pain in life before, you haven’t lived yet. She made her fair share of mistakes but she recovered from them. What I find fascinating about her is that she was not desperate to be loved or be in a relationship.

She was all along confident of herself. Such confidence will get you any man or have men on their knees begging for your attention. A woman’s outer beauty may attract a man, but its her inner beauty that will keep him. Obviously, she possesses this inner beauty otherwise Madden wouldn’t be so head-over-heels in love with her.


Today, we know Richie as a fashion designer, author, actress, singer and television personality. This is an accomplished resume for a woman whose life started out rocky.

  • In 2010, she won “Entrepreneur of the Year” for her House of Harlow 1960 brand at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards.
  • House of Harlow 1960 was also nominated in the category “Celebrity Fashion Line” at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards.
  • In July 2011, Richie’s House of Harlow 1960 line unveiled a 14-piece handbag collection available at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and
  • Richie also launched a collection for Macy’s Impulse in September 2012, which was sold in 100 select Macy’s stores as well as online.
  • Her first fragnance, “Nicole” was also launched in September 2012 available in about 2,000 department and specialty stores, including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Dillard’s.


In November 2007, Richie and Madden created “The Richie Madden Children’s Foundation”. Richie, Joel and Benji Madden along with UNICEF held a fundraiser for the Tap Project in March 2009.

  • They sold 143 water pumps to bring water directly to the villages and raised $100,000.
  • Esprit donated 10% of all the sales on April 2, 2009 at their newly opened 3rd Street Promenade store to The Richie-Madden Children’s Foundation.
  • The Richie-Madden Foundation specially designed “Cup with a Cause” for 7-Eleven. It was a part of their charity-focused coffee campaign in February 2010.
  • During 2010 the Foundation worked together with Beyond Shelter, a non-profit organization devoted to providing shelter for homeless families in Los Angeles.

If that isn’t an impressive resume/career, I don’t know what is.

SIDENOTE: “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Greek Philosopher

Richie’s association with Madden is a match made in heaven. They work well together, uplift one another and most importantly bring out the best in each other. Richie’s life went from delinquent to overflowing with good. Her life is a living testimony to others who are struggling with one addiction or the other.

Addition is not limited to alcohol or drug. An addiction could be related to plastic surgery, anorexia (the need to look a certain way to conform to society’s norm), food (overeating/obesity), overspending, etc. An addiction is anything that has a strong grip/hold over one’s life. It consumes and destroys…it’s like a cankerworm. 

Her life is more stable than those who she grew up with. From her excellent parenting skills to the love she share with her husband, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t want her life now. I’m happy for Richie and all she’s accomplished. 

I hope this article on Nicole Richie inspires and gives hope to anyone who’s going through a rough time. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Even I have learnt a thing or two from her. Life is full of struggles and disappointments but they don’t have to consume or define us.


8 thoughts on “The Fall And Rise Of Nicole Richie

  1. It doesn’t make sense for you to say that Lionel Richie could “pass” for a Multiracial American. We really don’t know what he is mixed with. If you have seen his biological daughter Sofia she actually looks a lot like Nicole….Mixed race. While her mother Diane Alexander appears Mixed as well. Until you have DNA evidence that proves that a person isn’t Mixed then it isn’t your call to say he is not genetically. Yes Lionel probably identifies as African American, but as a society we have been trained to because of the infamous one drop rule, whereas if you have one drop of Black blood in you, you’re Black and that’s it. However prior to this racist rule being implemented, those of Mixed heritage were Mulattos, Quadroons, Grifes, Octoroons etc. And with Lionel’s complexion he more than likely would fit one of those categories. However what society wants to invoke is that just because you’re light doesn’t mean you’re mixed. Well we have no way of telling unless a persons ancestry is traced and/or a DNA genetic testing is done.

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