Poor Little Richie Girl; Nicole Richie, Adopted Daughter of Singer Lionel, Stars with Heiress Paris Hilton in the Hit Reality-TV Show the Simple Life. in an Exclusive Interview, She Tells Caroline Graham Intimate Details About: * Paris Hilton's Sex Video Scandal * Sleeping over at Neverland with Her Godfather, Michael Jackson * Finding the Birth Parents Who Gave Her Up for Adoption

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 14, 2004 | Go to article overview

Poor Little Richie Girl; Nicole Richie, Adopted Daughter of Singer Lionel, Stars with Heiress Paris Hilton in the Hit Reality-TV Show the Simple Life. in an Exclusive Interview, She Tells Caroline Graham Intimate Details About: * Paris Hilton's Sex Video Scandal * Sleeping over at Neverland with Her Godfather, Michael Jackson * Finding the Birth Parents Who Gave Her Up for Adoption


Byline: CAROLINE GRAHAM

Nicole Richie is suffering a severe case of 'scandal fatigue'. In the past few weeks, she says with a weary shrug, 'things have gone haywire'.

First, she had to race to the defence of her best friend, hotel heiress Paris Hilton, with whom she co-stars in the hit reality-TV series The Simple Life, after Paris became embroiled in a graphic sex video scandal.

Next, Nicole found herself a lone voice of support for her godfather, Michael Jackson, after he was charged with child molestation. Then, to top it all, Nicole, 22, has been forced to fend off questions about her own family background and deal with accusations that she's simply an airhead with a famous father - Lionel Richie.

It is no wonder, then, that when Nicole arrives at a courtyard table at The Ivy restaurant in Hollywood for this interview - her first ever 'in-depth' talk - she is more than a little wary.

'People are always trying to take digs at me,' she says.

'I am not sure why, but if I let every criticism hurt me, I'd have given up a long time ago. I guess I'm developing a thick skin. I'm not trying to make out I'm a genius, but, with me, what you see is what you get.

'I'm proud of what I've accomplished and I'm proud of how far I've come in my personal life. What I do isn't rocket science, but nor should people dismiss me as an airhead. You don't get to where I am by being dumb.' For Nicole, who has been variously branded 'Nouveau Richie' and America's first 'celebutante', becoming famous - a childhood dream of hers - has turned out to be not all she hoped. 'I can't complain, but it's been one hell of a roller-coaster ride,' she says.

Along the way she became hooked on drugs and alcohol, and last February found herself in court after police in Malibu, California, discovered heroin in the car she was driving. As the car belonged to a friend, she was able to claim that the drugs were not hers. She was sentenced to three years' probation.

While much has been written about her - an internet search reveals more than 2,500 websites linked to her name - she has, she says, never felt 'comfortable' speaking about herself. 'You have to understand, I come from a privileged background. I grew up in Los Angeles and all my friends, such as Paris and Kimberley [Stewart, Rod's daughter] were from rich, famous families and so I thought nothing of it. I never realised that being rich and famous was anything unusual. Then it all changed.' The change came last year when she signed up for The Simple Life, in which two pampered Beverly Hills girls - Paris, an heir to the [pounds sterling]200 million Hilton hotel fortune, and Nicole - swapped their Californian mansions for life on a pig farm in Altus, Arkansas, population 817.

The twist? To do 'farming chores', such as giving grumpy sows pregnancy tests while wearing their Manolo Blahniks and couture clothes.

The series was originally to have featured Paris and her sister Nicky. 'But Nicky told the producers she didn't want to do the show,' says Nicole.

'Paris suggested they should contact me. I'd been approached by other reality-TV shows, but all they wanted to do was the 'rich bitch' thing - to follow me around shopping. I do go shopping, but there's a lot more to me than just flexing a credit card.' Before she could take part in the show, Nicole had to prove to her father just how much she wanted to do it. Her answer was to put herself into rehab immediately. For Lionel it was a breakthrough, for his daughter was finally accepting that she had issues that needed dealing with. He says, 'I give her a lot of credit for that. She said to me, "Dad, I think I have a problem." I was just so relieved when she realised that maybe she was going too fast down the road. I'm so proud of her. She made it through the tunnel.' What Nicole hadn't bargained on with The Simple Life was how successful the series would be - more than 16 million viewers tuned in, making it America's third highest-rated show (it is currently showing on Channel 4 in the UK). …

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Poor Little Richie Girl; Nicole Richie, Adopted Daughter of Singer Lionel, Stars with Heiress Paris Hilton in the Hit Reality-TV Show the Simple Life. in an Exclusive Interview, She Tells Caroline Graham Intimate Details About: * Paris Hilton's Sex Video Scandal * Sleeping over at Neverland with Her Godfather, Michael Jackson * Finding the Birth Parents Who Gave Her Up for Adoption
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