Lisa Rinna Welcomes Denise Richards to ‘Real Housewives’ With Her Best Tips for Surviving a Season

Published February 12, 2019

After months of anticipation, and speculation, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is back. The jewel in Bravo’s crown, the Beverly Hills iteration has been fastidiously collecting, and exposing, the fabulous lives of  its five extravagant, powerful, and smart-witted housewives for nine seasons. This season, the diamond-carrying cast of Kyle Richards, Lisa Vanderpump, Erika Girardi, Lisa Rinna, and Dorit Kemsley are welcoming a Hollywood legend, the actress Denise Richards, to their iconic clique. Already a reality TV veteran after her E! series, It’s Complicated, Richards promises to bring a savvy, yet innocent, presence to the show. And while it’s tough to be the new girl in any of the Housewives franchises, Beverly Hills might be the toughest. Ahead of the debut, we asked Rinna, one of the more seasoned housewives with a penchant for radical honesty and dancing on tables, to speak with Richards. The pair discussed everything from taking notes during the reunion to dealing with dinners gone awry. The show can be, as Rinna puts it, a “mindfucking-crazy ride.” Of course, it is. It’s Beverly Hills, darling.

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ERNEST MACIAS: You two go way back. Do you remember how you two crossed paths before The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?

RICHARDS: Our paths have crossed many, many times over the years. I don’t even know if we remember how we actually met.

RINNA: I remember I was with Wilhelmina models in Los Angeles, and I saw your card in the agency. I thought, “Who is this gorgeous girl?” I think you were 16 at the time. That’s the first time I remember seeing you.

MACIAS: After all the stuff you’ve both accomplished, why did you decide to do a reality TV show?

RINNA: I was at a point in my career where I had already dabbled in reality. I had done Dancing with the Stars, and I had done The Apprentice, and, truthfully, I needed a fucking job. I thought it would be an interesting way to reinvent myself, which is really what you have to continue to do in this business.

RICHARDS: I had to pay legal bills, at the time. I don’t look at it as, “Okay, I’m going to do a reality show.” It’s a show that I’ve been a fan of since the beginning, and I’ve talked to Lisa so many times about the show. I was just so fascinated by it. 

MACIAS: Lisa, you were the new girl at one point, and it’s always tough to be the new girl in the Housewives world. What sort of advice did you have for Denise about being the new girl?

RINNA: It is very difficult to be the new girl, and I didn’t really have anybody to give me any advice when I came on the show. I really felt it was important to tell Denise everything I possibly could to prepare her for this really mindfucking-crazy ride. And that’s just the truth.

RICHARDS: This is why I love her.

RINNA: I won’t tell you what I told her. It’s kind of secret, but I told her everything.

RICHARDS: I’m so grateful she did. Because, like she said, Lisa didn’t have anyone to take her under their wing, and kind of give her advice, and show her the way. So I’m grateful that Lisa was very forthcoming, and so supportive, and an amazing friend by giving me some very private tips.

MACIAS: Did you feel prepared, after Lisa’s private tips, to start filming with all the ladies?

RICHARDS: Honestly, I really love all the ladies. I didn’t want to have any preconceived ideas, and the stuff that Lisa told me is private, and was so helpful, just going into this. This is a huge franchise. It’s a whole different world from some of the other shows that Lisa has done, and the one reality show that I was on—it’s a whole different thing. There’s a lot of personalities, and a lot of strong women, so I was actually really excited. In the end, these women, even if they have any sort of discord or tiffs in the season, they still are there for each other—supporting one another in everything that they do, which I really like.

MACIAS: Lisa, how do you prepare for a new season?

RINNA: You can’t prepare for it because you don’t know what’s going to happen. All you can do is be in the moment because you can’t foresee what’s coming. It just comes.

RICHARDS: There was a part of me that thought that some of this had to be softly scripted. It was such a pleasant surprise to me that it’s not. It’s real moments. You can’t prepare for it. All you can do is be in the moment, and react how you would really react in these situations. I don’t think anyone anticipated the season going the way it did. I’m so lucky, and grateful I got to join on a very exciting season that has a lot of twists and turns, and there’s a lot of fun in it. There’s a lot of drama, too. It’s a lot of emotions.

MACIAS: Out of all the franchises, and Lisa, you’re going to speak to this because you’ve done it, Beverly Hills always delivers fashion. People have the biggest glam squads.

RINNA: Actually, I think Denise can talk about this better than I can.

RICHARDS: Well, for me, I am very casual in my day-to-day life. I’m a jeans and a T-shirt, tank top, type of girl. I love to get dressed up for the red carpet, or a party, or when I’m filming, but I’m a beach girl, so that’s where I felt like I didn’t fit in with a lot of them. 

RINNA: I don’t have a glam squad, either. I’ve kind of amassed one over the past five years, but I’m very much like Denise. I’m a casual girl during the day, and I think as you go along in this experience, and when a cast member like Erika [Jayne] comes along, or Dorit [Kemsley], and they raise the bar so high in the style game, you feel an obligation to raise the bar. I know Kyle [Richards] feels that way, too. I think we all feel that from time to time. I think I’ve definitely raised my game since I started the show.

RICHARDS: I will say, next season I will definitely do the same after my experience on this because I don’t want to always look like the schleppy one.

RINNA: You didn’t look like the schleppy one, Denise!

RICHARDS: Compared to all of you, I did.

RINNA: No, you didn’t. But I know the feeling. I do know the feeling.

MACIAS: When you joined the show, what was the thing that surprised you the most?

RINNA: That there’s no “action!” There’s no cut. That took a minute to get used to. More than anything, I describe the show as something like hard balls being thrown at the back of your head. Sometimes, it’s really fucking scary.

RICHARDS: We would have these big dinners and shit would go sideways. It took me a second to really take it in. See, people in the restaurant are not extras. They’re real people watching us, and reporting us, and then I felt self-conscious that they’re all staring at us, and they’re not even part of this world. We make an entrance everywhere we go. Even walking into the airport, or restaurants, or a store. In a scripted world, everyone around would be hired and part of the production. And that’s the thing, if the camera wasn’t on you, you were pretty safe. But for Housewives, it’s a whole different thing, so that’s something that I really had to be conscious of.

RINNA: You learn the hard way, always. The first season is always very… Some of us have great first seasons, some of us have difficult ones. It’s trial by fire, and it’s like nothing else. It can be really quite a learning curve.

MACIAS: Lisa, you’ve done this for a couple of seasons now. What would be the one thing that you would tell Denise to remember throughout the show?

RINNA: You just have to be your authentic self and tell the truth, to think out loud, which means, have an opinion, say how you feel.  I would say those are the things that are most important.

RICHARDS: That’s the thing she kept saying to me, even if you say something that you didn’t mean to say, as long as you’re honest, you can always explain yourself later, or justify it, or apologize. 

RINNA: You can always apologize. You can always say, “I fucked up. I’m sorry.” We’re human. We’re not perfect. It’s about showing your true self, flaws and all.

RICHARDS: I think that’s why so many people have loved Lisa on this show. That is her, and she’s not trying to be anything that she’s not.

RINNA: Aw, thank you Denise. That’s so nice. I mean, I try, you know?

RICHARDS: And you’re very self-deprecating, and it’s unusual.

RINNA: Well, I will say that Denise has become one of the best new members of our cast, ever. Everyone loves her.

RICHARDS: That’s very nice.

RINNA: It’s true though. The new girl is usually hated, and everyone’s mean to her. Everybody loved Denise. I think they welcomed her quite well. 

MACIAS: I know we’re not at this point yet, but, Lisa, you’ve been in a couple of reunions by now. How should Denise prepare for a reunion? It’s something so different than anything else on the show.

RINNA: Because we have to watch the show all over again, the best thing you can do is take notes so you can remember. How can you possibly remember all the nuances, and everything that’s gone down? It’s impossible. Use those notes when it comes time. You’ve got to study for the reunion like it’s a fucking final. How ridiculous is that? But it’s true. It’s like a final exam in your Housewives season, and you better study for it.

RICHARDS: That is very good advice. Also, we don’t shoot the reunion until the end of the season, which is quite a few months from now.

RINNA: Exactly. So how can you possibly remember? You’ve got to take notes. And then have them on your phone while you’re sitting there, so that you can refer to them if you need to.

RICHARDS: I am definitely going to do that.

RINNA: Oh my God, I’ve given away all my secrets. You just, you can’t ever use them against me, Denise.

RICHARDS: I will never.

RINNA: Promise. Promise.

MACIAS: I was thinking that you were going to tell Denise to just own it, you know? That’s the one thing I’ve taken from watching you.

RINNA: I know. Well, I’ve had to kind of move on from that phrase a little bit. It’s gotten a little tired, you know?

MACIAS: Denise, what does Lisa bring to the new season?

RICHARDS: Well, she’s very sassy. She brings everything out in the front.

RINNA: I expose it. Maybe? I don’t know. I shouldn’t put words in your mouth.

RICHARDS: She makes everyone accountable. That’s good, to own our shit, and be honest. She brings the honesty.

RINNA: Cool. I love that.

RICHARDS: She brings the sexiness, too. I say that with all the love. She’s very fucking funny. I laugh so hard with her in this season.

RINNA:  I think I’m just stupid, Denise. And you just laugh at my stupid humor.

MACIAS: Lisa, now you. What does Denise bring to the new season?

RINNA: Denise brings likability. She’s a little bit dangerous. Her mouth gets her in a little bit of trouble. And I fucking love that. God, she brings so much. Denise brings it. That’s what we need to say.