The Rinnaissance Is Imminent
Story by Matt Wille / Photography by Kate Biel / Styling by Danyul Brown / Hair by Kristin Heitkotter / Makeup by Michael Anthony / Set design by Wesley GoodrichApr 18, 2023
Lisa Rinna is pivoting again. Well, “again” might not be exactly right, as the multi-hyphenate points out to me — she is in a state of constant evolution. “Pivot” isn’t entirely accurate, either, because Rinna is, from many angles, performing the same way she has for more than three decades: following her instincts toward happiness.
And yet — both Rinna and I choose the word “pivotal” to describe this moment in her life, a linguistic match that feels almost like kismet as we chat via Zoom. “It’s like I’m pivoting every time I do something,” Rinna says. “I think as long as I keep saying 'yes' to the universe, good stuff just keeps appearing.”
This, Rinna tells me, is the new constant in her life: saying yes as much as possible, which is propelling her forward as she moves beyond the eight years she spent filming The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The show has taken up so much space in her life — physically and mentally — that one might think the sudden absence of reality TV cameras would leave something of a void for Rinna. But she’s already filling that space and more.
Even a casual Instagram user will know where a significant portion of that time has gone as of late: fashion. As Fashion Month rolled around in January, Rinna was suddenly everywhere — front row at Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris, yes, but also at seemingly every major fashion house’s shows in New York City, London and Milan, too. It felt like the entire world was watching Rinna turn look after look with no signs of stopping.
Rinna has always loved fashion, as she reminds me, but being courted by major brands in such a concerted way was a novel experience, one she speaks about with the utmost gratitude (especially for all the work her management and styling teams put into making the fashion marathon happen). The big key to pulling it all off? No longer working on Real Housewives.
“Obviously I’m not filming,” she says, “so I was able to say yes when Kenzo asked me to fly out to Paris with four days’ notice.” And then people noticed Rinna was in Paris and the calls started flooding in. “The whole thing was just saying ‘yes.’”
Rinna is almost superhuman in her ability to take life as it comes at her, a temperament that has proven infinitely useful as she transitions out of the Real Housewives part of her life. She admits it has taken some adjustment — especially in not being around her friends and the crew she worked with for eight years, whom she names as “family” — but then again, she reassures, “everything’s a big adjustment in life, it’s all transformative.”
“I’ve gone through all the emotions that you go through when a door closes in your life,” Rinna says. “But what’s so great about it is that sometimes when one door closes, 100 more open. When you’re not scared to do something new — to say, 'You know what, it’s time for me to go out and do my next thing' — if you can hang with that, it’s always such a blessing. It just takes some faith and hope.”
What, exactly, that “next thing” may be is still very under wraps, though Rinna does tease a return to other passions we’ve seen in her life before, like acting. As she navigates this pivotal time in her life, Rinna says she pulls “all kinds of levers” to keep herself grounded: talking to a therapist, going to yoga classes and reading lots of books. (Rinna is quite the prolific reader, as it turns out; at the time of our chat she’s obsessed with Victoria Song’s Bending Reality: How to Make the Impossible Probable — indeed, a fitting choice for this moment in her life.)
While Rinna does admit that this moment is indeed pivotal for her, she’s also very well-rooted in the reality that she has gone through such moments before and will undoubtedly do so again. She doesn’t leave versions of herself behind; she is instead an expert at incorporating her past into her present, recognizing that, in doing so, she’s always building herself into something better.
Because she’s always working on this project of personal evolution, something like leaving Housewives can feel both life-altering and old-hat. It doesn’t feel much different than leaving Days of Our Lives or any other long-term gig she’s had. “It’d be the same if I worked as a clerk at Payless,” she says. “It becomes your life. But I never feel like it’s just an ending. It’s an ending and a beginning. Because I’m not dead yet.”
Another constant in Rinna’s life — one that shows no signs of changing, no matter her next steps — is fame. Rinna was famous before Housewives, but she’s also managed to parlay her reality television success into recognition far outside the Bravo universe. (Even my mom knows her by name.) She has spoken on many occasions about her love of being famous, with an intensity that stands in stark contrast to the downsides of fame spoken about by other celebrities.
“I think it’s the greatest thing,” Rinna says, “I can’t say it’s bad in any way, shape or form. I mean, I’m not Lady Gaga. I wouldn’t want to not be able to go to the grocery store. I wouldn’t want it to be a prison.”
Fame is, at this point, so much ingrained in Rinna’s being that she’s nearly unable to separate herself from it. When I wonder aloud whether or not she has days where she wakes up and feels like she can’t “turn on” that part of herself, Rinna is concise and adamant in her reply: “No, no, because I don’t care. I don’t turn on that part of me. I just am.”
It’s not just in this moment that Rinna finds herself with no urge to be less famous — this was always the plan. Not just Plan A but the only plan. “I don’t know what I would’ve done if all this didn’t work out,” she says, “I was in Medford, Oregon. I left college after a term, that doesn’t really count. I never really had a backup plan, no.”
While Rinna doesn’t operate with backup plans, she does make sure to juggle plenty of things at once — “at least three, in case two drop” — which, she says, is key to her survival. As much as she would describe herself as a creative person, staying booked and busy for 34 years (“That’s a long fucking time!”) comes down to thinking like a business woman, she says. Right now, that means finding many hours to invest in her brands, Rinna Beauty and Rinna Wines, between fashion shows and cocktails with friends.
Rinna Wines is Rinna’s newest baby, the culmination of years of research stemming from — what else — a wine tasting in Provence featured in the ninth season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. (Rinna’s business-savvy spark is clear to viewers as she sips the bubbly beverage and begins preaching the gospel of "Rinna Rosé.") She’d wanted to get into the alcohol business even before that, she tells me, ever since she saw Bethenny Frankel’s success with Skinnygirl.
“That’s the only way my husband even let me do the show,” Rinna laughs. “At first, he said he’d divorce me if I did it. Then I mentioned how much Bethenny sold Skinnygirl for — he came back two days later and said, ‘You know, I don’t think it’d be such a bad idea if you did the show after all.’”
When Rinna picks up more balls to juggle, she seems somehow to also grow more hands with which to handle them; she’s not willing to sit back and let others dictate her brands’ directions, for example. By doing so, she’s able to stay true to her vision. “I’ve got to love it,” she says. “Before we even went into these ventures, I said, ‘Listen, if I don’t want to wear this or drink this, that’s a problem. I’m going to tell you what’s working, what’s not working. It’s not easy. Nothing’s easy that’s worth doing and fighting for.”
But staying busy isn’t a mental health precaution for Rinna in the way it is for many — it’s just part of her constant process of reinvention. And this modus operandi is obviously working out for Rinna; because she’s always focused on her own evolution, it doesn’t feel like she’s being forced to reinvent herself post-Housewives. She is always mid-reinvention.
“I’m not doing reinvention,” she says. “It’s just kind of happening.”
Rinna says that, while she can’t speak to all the projects she has lined up, she’s very much moving in the direction she wants to move in. People are noticing she’s freed up from the shackles of Bravo’s filming schedule and reaching out with plenty of opportunities. She’s saying “yes” as much as possible to keep her reinvention going strong. There are very few projects she’ll say “no” to, including The Masked Singer, which she says she’s turned down about 10 times, “maybe more,” and not because she hates the show. “I’d just be so claustrophobic in that suit,” she says, “I couldn’t do it.” Oh, and she’s not open to starting an OnlyFans right now, either, though she does mention maybe being open to selling photos of her feet if times ever got really dire.
Right now she really has just one prerequisite: “I want to work with fun people and have a good time. Period.”