By Christine Montanti
Photography By Mike Ruiz
From the moment you meet Kyle Richards, you are captivated by her presence. Her glamorous Hollywood beauty, radiant personality and sensational career in film and television is so extraordinary, it’s not surprising viewers are enamored with this chic and dynamic star. As an accredited child actress, Kyle’s career exploded at the age of four when she made her debut in Disney’s Escape to Witch Mountain followed by the role of Alicia Sanderson Edwards in the classic family television show, Little House on the Prairie, and later she starred alongside the iconic Betty Davis in the feature film, The Watcher in the Woods. Success for the star of Bravo’s unscripted reality series, Real House Wives of Beverly Hills is not only limited to her acting abilities as she has appeared in over 100 TV shows and films, but is also due to her other unprecedented accomplishments: executive producer, entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. With several other creative projects in the works, the fan favorite of RHOBH currently stars in the 9th Season of the hit TV show vigorously balancing career and family, demonstrating she is a passionately driven woman controlling her own destiny.
The American actress was the first television personality to be cast on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the reality show about affluent women enjoying lavish lifestyles. On the 9th season of the unscripted series, Kyle Richards explosive argument with Lisa Vanderpump, referred to as the PuppyGate scandal has proven to be one of the biggest friendship-ending fights on reality television. The rift between the co-stars stems from an accusation made by other cast members who accused Lisa of leaking a negative story to the press. The damaging tabloid story came out after Dorit Kemsley, fellow co-star, adopted a dog from Vanderpump Dogs and the dog was returned to a kill shelter.
No need to worry RHOBH fans, the drama doesn’t seem to be slowing the California native down; her career is rapidly evolving as she uses her innovative ability to develop scripted entertainment. In 2018, Richards stepped behind the camera to create and co-executive produce the television series, American Woman starring an incredible line up of talent: Alicia Silverstone, Mena Suvari, and Jennifer Bartles. The Paramount Network drama is a period piece inspired by Kyle’s life growing up in the 70’s and centers on Kyle’s strong single mother raising her daughters in Los Angeles. With the addition of her mother’s friends, the show sends an authentic message about issues women faced in that era concerning relationships, their struggle to be independent, and the desire to have a stronger presence in the workplace. The emerging network producer currently has two additional projects in development at both ABC and Bravo leaving audiences and peers fascinated and eagerly waiting to see what’s happening next for this talented actress.
Aunt to Paris and Nicky Hilton, Kyle was accustomed to being in the limelight and was raised by her ambitious mother Kathleen Richards, a stage mom and manager for Kyle and her two sisters, Kim Richards and Kathy Hilton. Kathleen managed her three daughters’ acting and modeling careers full time after she divorced Kyle’s father, Ken Richards. Kyle had a very unconventional upbringing in Los Angeles and admits that acting was not something she wanted to do as a young girl, but rather something her mother ushered her into to overcome her shyness. “It was definitely not something that I wanted to do at that age.” Kyle confesses. “I so badly just wanted to be a normal child that when I wasn’t filming and we were on hiatus, I would borrow my friend’s school uniform and I would wear it on weekends because I really just wanted to be in a normal school, and that was my way of feeling normal.”
Today the Real House Wife of Beverly Hills efficiently manages to juggle the demands of motherhood, marriage and her dynamic career, demonstrating that her capabilities are limitless. Kyle is a devoted mother to four beautiful and aspiring daughters spanning two decades in age from 11-31; She had her first daughter Farrah at the age of 19 from a previous marriage. Four years after her divorce, the actress met her second husband, Mauricio Umansky, a real estate mogul and CEO of The Agency. Kyle and Mauricio have three daughters together, Alexia, Sophia, and Portia, and the mom of four is also the proud mommy to five adorable dogs.
As to how the reality star’s family feels about filming RHOBH, Kyle reveals, “When I first started the show it was a family discussion to see if they wanted to do this little adventure and everybody said sure! Portia was not even two years old yet, and I had her two year old birthday on the first season. My husband doesn’t mind filming the show. Sometimes the kids will show up and be on camera, but they really aren’t into it. I am actually shy. I am actually an introvert who is living an extrovert life. Now I am so used to filming the show that I don’t even think about it. I am a very open person. You can tell me your darkest secret and I would never tell a soul, but if it’s about me, I can’t keep a secret about myself.”
When asked about the challenges balancing both career and family Kyle confesses, “Sometimes I am extremely overwhelmed, but I do well under pressure. I can get more stuff done at 9 in the morning then you could ever imagine. I like being active and you will never see me lying on the sofa watching TV or a movie even if I am sick; it is just not my personality. There is truth to the expression, If you want to get something done give it to someone busy. I have so many balls in the air and I work well like that, but with that said, sometimes it is a lot!”
The day of Kyle’s cover shoot is a beautiful spring morning in Beverly Hills. I am seated across from the stunning actress inside the luxurious Beverly Suite of the Sofitel Los Angeles. The view of the world’s most exciting city is remarkable from the urban resort’s 10th floor suite which has now been converted into our production set. Dressed in a structured, detailed white blouse and high waisted blue slacks, the vibrant producer’s style is sophisticated and chic. The abundant sunlight cascades through the ceiling-high windows creating a soft dreamy light on Kyle’s face as she describes what her childhood was like growing up on the set of Little House on the Praire. “We would wake up at four in the morning when it was pitch black out, and my mom would dress me while I was asleep in the middle of the night. She would carry me to the car and put me in the back seat with a pillow and a blanket; in those days there were no seatbelts. We would arrive in Simi Valley to film as the sun was rising, and when we would reach the set, there were kids and horses; we would catch guppies in the stream and have little picnics outside. Michael Landon and Victor French were like fathers to me. It was all a very positive experience!”
When we return back to the modish Melrose conference room that is being used as our green room located on the 2nd floor of the Beverly Hills luxury hotel, Kyle reveals to me that it’s strange she is still not speaking to her longtime friend, the only other remaining original housewife on the show. “If Lisa does something wrong, it is very hard for her to own her behavior because she is a perfectionist and wants to be perceived as being perfect all the time.”
Kyle’s friendship ended with her co-star the moment she was kicked out of the Vanderpump’s home by Lisa and her husband, Ken Todd. When asked if she regrets going to Lisa’s home the day of the epic dispute, Kyle responds, “I don’t regret going there because when the other ladies and I had this conversation, I felt so bad because Lisa wasn’t there. I had to be honest about what was going on, and if I didn’t say anything to Lisa, she would have seen the show in six months and thought everyone was talking about her behind her back. So I went to her house to give her the heads up and tell her that this is how everyone felt, but then it all blew up.”
As we conclude our photo shoot on the Sofitel’s extraordinary helipad which features breathtaking views of the Santa Ana Mountains and the iconic Hollywood sign, Kyle reveals how the issues her mother faced impacted her growing up. “My mother was just trying to do the best she could. She made mistakes as we all do. When we were growing up, my mom said to me, “I didn’t know anything. Your dad handled everything, and then when I got divorced, I had never written a check, I never paid taxes, and I don’t want you girls to ever be like that. I want you girls to take charge of your own lives.” Kyle begins to laugh as she recalls, “When I was on hiatus we would get unemployment checks and my mom would let us keep our checks and put them into our checking accounts and I would have to balance the checks myself! My mother wanted to teach me about balancing and budgeting and being independent.”
“My mom pushed me into acting to overcome my shyness. So honestly when I did anything, for example when I would pull into Warner Brothers to film American Woman the guard would wave to me, and as I would drive through, I would think, “Thanks Mom.” Because I know that everything that she did has led me to where I am now — Housewives, producing American Woman and these other projects are all because of my mom!”
Photography: Mike Ruiz
Executive Producer & Creative Director: Christine Montanti
D.P. of Video Production: Mike Vernazza
Hair Styling: Angel Gonzalez
Makeup Artistry: Pamela Brogardi
Wardrobe Styling: Denise Borrego
Photography Assistant: Ozzie Guiterrez
Production Assistant: Melissa Boos
A special thank you to Cecile Sandral, and our beautiful location, Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Cover: Silver sequin cocktail dress by Retrofete