Nicole Richie is a Virgo who is comfortable with the fact that life is a series of ebbs and flows. Her fellow Hollywood Renaissance woman Rashida Jones is on the same page, if not in the same zone of the astrological chart. Both daughters of famous singers who grew up in the starry heart of Los Angeles, Richie and Jones have been supertight for decades, since long before fame, iconic TV shows, and everything else kicked in. It’s a friendship that, even to an outsider listening in on their phone conversation, feels inevitable.
That’s just one reason we tapped Jones for this interview with Richie: Who better to draw out the true you than a friend you’ve known forever? The other is that, as a celebrity herself, Jones intimately understands that life behind the lens isn’t always what it seems; it’s a perspective that’s especially valuable in this particular instance, given that, when Richie first debuted on the small screen, she was performing a funhouse mirror version of herself that got mistaken for her actual personality. That girl we encountered on The Simple Life was only a character she played on TV. But the woman who originated that part is wicked smart and laugh-out-loud hilarious — not to mention a person who wants to be known for something other than portraying herself.
On a sublimely sunny SoCal afternoon, the childhood besties hopped on a call to talk about what’s new in Richie World. The answer, if you’ve been keeping up with Thursday night network lineups, is a lot. But her new gig (more on that in a sec!) is only part of the story. At 35, Richie is reinventing herself all over again in a way that’s relatively unprecedented for a former reality star — not that we should be surprised, since she’s pretty much the poster child for a certain brand of mercuriality. This month, she’s adding actress to her list of done-that’s. As an anchorwoman named Portia on NBC’s Great News, which debuts April 25, she puts her natural comedic chops on full display. She even got the coveted Tina Fey stamp of approval.
Still, the newbie actress was understandably anxious about joining a seasoned ensemble. But Richie handled her nervousness the way she does most things in life: by being honest and rolling with the punches. That first day on set, she announced to everyone in earshot that she had zero clue what she was doing — so please, folks, pass along the pointers and criticisms. Anything to help her up her acting game.
It’s that kind of radical openness that has paved her unconventional path to stardom. But for Richie, it’s not about chasing fame, or roles — or anything, really. “It’s about how I’m spending my time here,” she tells Jones. It’s about letting things unfold. “What I’m working on right now is setting up my life.” Find out what that means — and much more — in their full Q&A below.