Lisa Rinna on family, wigs, and stirring up ‘Real Housewives’

Never try to predict Lisa Rinna’s tastes.

“I heard someone say, ‘Hide those hideous boots! Lisa’s gonna hate them,'” the actress says over the phone from LA the day after our Alexa shoot. “I thought, ‘What boots?’ They brought them out and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? These are the coolest things ever, they make the outfit!’ ”

It’s all part of her approach to life and work: “I say yes more than no,” says the actress and ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ star. “Right now I’m really very free in my life. I’m not confident, I’ll do anything. And that makes it easy.”

At 58, she’s a kind of TV tabasco. If you want to spice up a show, just add Rinna. In the soap opera heyday of the early ’90s, she joined Days of Our Lives as the new love interest of fan-favorite Bo Brady (Peter Reckell). She joined Aaron Spelling’s nighttime soap Melrose Place and guest-starred in Kristen Bell’s teen noir Veronica Mars. She competed on “Dancing With the Stars” and hosted the SoapNet show “Soap Talk,” not to mention writing three books and releasing a fitness band and a QVC clothing line before earning a spot in one of the formative realities -Shows of the last 15 found years.

Lisa Rinna styled by Ashley Pruitt.
Tom Ford dress$4,980 at Bloom’s Room, Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills, 310-691-0894; 18k rose gold earrings with diamonds$8,442 to Djula; Notice Me lip liner and Life’s a Peach Larger Than Life Lip Plumping Gloss
John Russo

Her talent for causing trouble is widely recognized as an important revitalization of Andy Cohen’s franchise. Because Rinna knows better than most how to court drama. And she serves it up weekly on Housewives with a wink. “The person that’s on the show is a version of me when people throw shit at me,” she says. “I do things on the show that I would never do in real life. My real life is very beautiful and calm.”

“The person who’s on the show is a version of me when people throw shit at me. I do things on the show that I would never do in real life. My real life is very beautiful and calm.”

Lisa Rina

Rinna will be the first to tell you that she hasn’t always been so sure about her career. “I don’t know how I got to this point, I just know that it’s really beautiful,” she says. “I don’t care if I look silly, and it’s super liberating. There were many hurdles. I definitely didn’t have that path back then. That was in the last 10 or 15 years.”

One hurdle that has since become a central part of the Rinna brand was examining her now iconic big lips. As she revealed to “Today” in 2009, she had silicone injected into her upper lip in her early 20s, which is very trendy; Gradually, these injections hardened into scar tissue, leading her to reduction and recontouring surgery.

Lisa Rina
Antonio Lopez dress, $1,850, and boots, $4,900 (similar styles), both at fendi; Ring, Rinna’s own (worn throughout); Notice Me Lip Liner and Life’s a Peach Larger Than Life Lip Plumping Gloss, both at Rina beauty.

Her exaggerated pout (even scaled down) along with her shag haircut became one of Rinna’s trademarks. So, of course, her makeup line, Rinna Beauty, started with a range of lip kits and a plumper. “I mean, when you see my name, you kind of know what you’re going to get,” she quips. “It’s not just about having big lips — it’s about having big, healthy, moist lips.” She’s quick to point out that her plumper doesn’t use the chili pepper-derived ingredient capsaicin that most plumping products use use. “We use something that contains mint. It’s a comfortable experience, as opposed to ‘oh my god, my lips are really itchy,'” she explains.

“It’s not just about having big lips — it’s about having big, healthy, moist lips.”

Lisa Rina

“I really wanted to do this 15 years ago, but I couldn’t make a deal with anyone,” she says of Rinna Beauty, which launched in November 2020 after finally finding the right company to partner with. “And then COVID hit and we launched a lip kit when everyone was wearing masks!” she says. “But it started like crazy, so now I feel like it’s meant to be.”

Rinna leads the way and wears her brand at every opportunity. “I wear the ‘Notice Me’ lip liner that everyone loves,” she says. “You cover the whole lip with it. And then I wear the ‘Mrs. Hamlin’ lipstick over it.”

Crystal bandeau, $1,890, tuxedo jacket $3,490 and pants, $1,990, all included Michael Kors; Diamond earrings, $30,400 Djula; “Notice Me” lip liner, “Envy Me” lipstick and “Jet Setter” lip plumping gloss, all at Rina beauty.
John Russo

That “Mrs. “Hamlin” shade, a pink blush, seems like a joke for Rinna and her husband, actor Harry Hamlin, whom she married in 1997 and with whom she has two daughters, Amelia Gray Hamlin and Delilah Belle Hamlin. (Along with a still-hot marriage.)

“You know what? Harry doesn’t like red lips,” Rinna says, laughing. “He thinks women get bitchy when they wear red lipstick. I think his mom wore red lips. So I’m like, ‘Okay, fine, whatever you need, sweetie.’ I never wear a red lip when I’m around him.”

But that determination was tested when she and Hamlin starred in Broadway’s 2007 Chicago. “Roxie Hart wears a red lip!” she says. “So I was like, ‘Honey, you’ve got to get over this for the next three months.’ It was okay, but we always laugh about it.”

Lisa Rinna styled by Ashley Pruitt.
Valentino Dress, $10,900, at Bloom’s Room, Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills; 18k honey gold earrings with diamonds, $90,095, see similar styles at Le Vian; Pink morganite ring, $18,995, see similar styles at Kalati; “Notice Me” lip liner, “Envy Me” lipstick and “Jet Setter” lip plumping gloss, all at Rina beauty.
John Russo

Hamlin, Rinna says, doesn’t have an Instagram account. “He lives his life completely free and it’s quite wonderful to watch him do it.” But he’s always willing to appear in Rinna’s feed. A reel earlier this month shows them dancing on their deck while he cuts the foliage, both clad in soft sun hats. “He reminds us all the time that it’s none of your business what other people think of you.”

And what other people think of Rinna is… a lot. Since appearing on season five of RHOBH in 2014, she’s polarized audiences with her instinct to dig into social wounds (a compilation from the show called “Lisa Rinna’s Messiest Moments” has 1.6 million views on YouTube) .

“I just try not to pay attention to it 0, Yes, really. I mean, I’m human, so of course it’s going to get me from time to time. But I think at that point I probably got elephant skin,” she says. “You have to get to a point where you think, listen, what I’m doing is for entertainment.”

Rinna, a longtime gay rights supporter and fan of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” has recently embraced wigs to emphasize the character aspect of her personality, both on “RHOBH” and on the red carpet; She sported a dramatic long mane at last month’s GLAAD Awards. “The wigs give me the characterization of being someone a little different from myself,” she muses. “It’s like drag for me. I understand drag much better now than ever before. You can express yourself differently, get out of your comfort zone.” She even names her wigs and several Rinna Beauty lip kits after them.

Lisa Rinna styled by Ashley Pruitt.
Dundas “Ellis” dress, $2,990 at Bloom’s Room, Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills; Gianvito Rossi sandals, Rinna’s own; 14k honey gold ring, $5,595 and 18k honey gold earrings with diamonds, $90,095, similar styles at Le Vian; “Heidi” lip kit Rina beauty.
John Russo

But the latest season of “RHOBH,” which premieres May 11, wasn’t just cheeky fun for Rinna. Her mother, Lois, died in November, a loss she’s still coming to terms with. “I try to just allow myself to feel what I’m feeling,” she says. “It’s not just sadness. Grief is a long process. And you’ll see it play out on the show.

Around the same time, she contracted COVID. “It was bad – I lost my taste and smell. But it really allowed me to sit in that moment and grieve.” That is, when she wasn’t on video calls for the show. “They FaceTimed a lot while I had COVID. So I think you’ll see. That’s not always cute.”

Despite the hardships of the past year, she’s grateful to be at the forefront of her career at an age when too many women are being pushed out of the industry.

“I think I’m an outsider,” she says with her typical frankness. “I don’t think that happens to many women. I wish there were more. Not many people I started with are still in business.”

"Finley" Dress, $695 at LINK TO:
Finley dress, $695 Jonathan Simkhai
John Russo

She attributes her staying power to her superhuman work ethic and “my great narcissistic desire for the world to approve of me, probably,” but also says her 50s are a lot better than she ever imagined. “You really don’t give up anymore. When you are healthy and taking care of yourself, you feel great because you are smarter than ever. i love my 50s I think it’s the greatest era.”

Like her idols Jane Fonda and Cher and Dolly Parton, Rinna plans to turn on for decades. “My husband is working with Jane Fonda right now and she said to him, ‘Harry, I’m 85 years old and I’m doing more films than I’ve ever done in my career.’ I mean, if that doesn’t give you any hope to move on and not sell yourself short, then I don’t know what does either!”

Publisher: Serena French; Stylist: Ashley Pruitt at The only agency; fashion assistant: Laura Camargo; Image editing: Jessica Hober; Hair: Bryan Fisher of agency A-Frame; makeup: Steven Tabimba; Location: 1 Hotel West Hollywood; 8490 Sunset Blvd.

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