The Transformation Of Lisa Rinna From 21 To 57 Years Old - Nicki Swift (2024)

Television

ByLuke Gralia/

Lisa Rinna is one of the most recognizable names in Bravo's entire "Real Housewives" franchise thanks to her previous acting career that spanned decades. Prior to joining "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," Lisa was an accomplished actress, best known for starring in "Days of Our Lives" and "Melrose Place" in the '90s, per her IMDb. In fact, her acting resume was part of the reason she did not appear on the hit Bravo series sooner. "I felt like Lisa Rinna was too much of a personality and name," producer Andy Cohen said on "Watch What Happens Live!" "I felt like it should be all unknown people ... I've made some mistakes in my life!"

Fast forward to 2021, and Lisa is arguably more relevant than she has ever been. Let's take a look at Lisa's decades-long life in the public eye and follow her transformation from an up-and-coming 21-year-old to a highly established 57.

Lisa Rinna began with lots of small gigs

Lisa Rinna (pictured here at 25) began her quest for stardom when she was 18. After being rejected from an acting course at the University of Oregon, she dropped out and began modeling until ultimately moving to San Francisco, according to a 2019 profile in the Los Angeles Times. "I just wanted to be a star," Lisa told the paper. "I didn't care whether I was a great actor. I just wanted to be famous and was going to do whatever I had to to get there."

Lisa had a slow, steady come-up, initially acting in commercials. "I think I got my SAG card doing a Mervyn's commercial!" she told the Los Angeles Times. In 1984, she starred in the music video for John Parr's "Naughty, Naughty," which went to No. 1 on the Billboard rock chart. In the video, Lisa plays a spurned lover in a blue tracksuit, who has had it with Parr's playboy tendencies. She slaps him across the face, gets out of the car, and rips off her necklace before throwing it at him.

Lisa got her big break in soap operas

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Marcel Thomas/Getty Images

In the '90s, Lisa Rinna's career really began to take off. Her first big break came in 1992 when she landed the role of Billie Reed on the iconic soap opera "Days of Our Lives," a role she played until 1995, when she landed the part of Taylor McBride on Aaron Spelling's primetime drama "Melrose Place" (via IMDb). Interestingly, Lisa only landed the role after the original actress, Hunter Tylo, was fired after becoming pregnant. Tylo sued Spelling Entertainment Group and ultimately won almost $5 million, according to The Washington Post.

Lisa told the Chicago Tribune in 1996 that going from daytime soap to primetime soap was a natural move. "It's campy," she said. "I mean, come on, we've all watched it. You want to see dirt, you want to see excitement. You want to see drama."

Lisa married "L.A. Law" actor Harry Hamlin in 1997, and in September 1998 she appeared on the cover of Playboy. Inside the issue, a six-months-pregnant Lisa appeared nude for a ten-page spread, reports Daily Mail.

Then, Lisa Rinna got her feet wet in talk and reality

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In the 2000s, Lisa Rinna pivoted yet again, transitioning from actor to television personality. She briefly served as a temporary replacement host for Kathie Lee Gifford on "Live! With Regis," which Forbes reports caught the eyes of the producers of "Soap Talk," a soap opera-themed talk show on SOAPnet. In 2002, she began hosting "Soap Talk" with co-host Ty Treadway, and earned four Daytime Emmy nominations before the show ended in 2006. That same year, Lisa appeared on the second season of "Dancing with the Stars," beginning her foray into reality TV.

Her foray continued in 2010 with the short-lived reality show "Harry Loves Lisa," which aired on TV Land for six episodes. She returned to reality screens the next year, competing on "The Celebrity Apprentice." Although she was fired in the second episode, she returned two years later for "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice," per The Hollywood Reporter.

Between her reality TV appearances, Lisa found time to take her acting chops to the stage, appearing opposite her husband Harry Hamlin in the Broadway production of "Chicago" in 2007. "I'd love to do Broadway again," she told Forbes. "I'd like to continue going back and forth between acting and reality and talk and everything."

Lisa found a platform to promote her clothing line

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Rob Kim/Getty Images

Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin owned a boutique on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks called Belle Gray, which was known for its specialty womenswear. They opened the shop in 2003 and closed it in January 2011, as both of them had become too busy with their careers to continue to manage it, reports Patch. Lisa decided to instead peddle her goods directly to the consumers, beginning a partnership with QVC later that year. QVC still sells her clothing line, Lisa Rinna Collection, as of May 2021.

Then in 2014, Lisa officially joined the cast of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" for its fifth season. Although Andy Cohen was initially hesitant to have her on the cast, he is now happy with his choice. "She's fun to watch," he told theLos Angeles Times. "She's funny and she makes fun of herself. She understands her place in the world, and she's very secure with herself. I just think she's entertaining."

Lisa agrees with Andy's sentiment. "People say to me and to Eileen Davidson that even though we're the actors on the show it feels to them that we're actually more real," she told Forbes. She further attributed this to the fact that she and Eileen play characters for a living, and thus view the show as an outlet for them to be their authentic selves.

Now, Lisa Rinna has it all

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Lisa Rinna told the Los Angeles Times that her primary motive for joining "The Real Housewives” was to give her clothing line a platform. "I was looking at it from a business angle," she said. "I saw what it did for Nene Leakes, [Lisa] Vanderpump, Kyle [Richards], Bethenny [Frankel]." And now after several seasons on the show, Lisa has begun expanding her business portfolio. In November 2020, she launched her first lip kit collection under the label Rinna Beauty, reports E! News.

She also told Forbes that her reality stardom has actually led to more acting roles. She made a guest appearance on ABC's "The Middle" in 2017, and in 2018 reprised her role of Billie Reed on "Days of Our Lives," per her IMDb. On top of all that, she continues to appear on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," which she believes is a natural progression from her soap opera roots.

"Reality has become the new soap opera," she told Forbes. "It's become the new nighttime soap opera, it's the new Dynasty, it's the new Dallas, and it's the new paradigm of escapist television."

All in all, Lisa is happy with how her life and career have panned out. "I've always said that having a place where people can see you makes a huge difference," she said. "And now having people see me as who I am really has changed my business a lot, because now people know me for me, and not necessarily a character."

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The Transformation Of Lisa Rinna From 21 To 57 Years Old - Nicki Swift (2024)

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