IT’S RUDE Stare. TO
Unless you’re looking at Sofia Richie, in which case it’s necessary.
“I’ve dealt with severe anxiety – zero-to-a-hundred panic attacks”
Let’s call it the Instagram effect. Online, Richie is the embodiment of the can’t-look-away, cool-girl algorithm: glowy golden-hour skin, high-fashion wardrobe and MTV Cribs-level backdrops. If you’ve never scrolled so far back on @sofiarichie that you find yourself deep into her 2017 trip to Tokyo, who even are you? The IRL Richie is less glossy, more understated, but just as relentlessly stare-able. Even when she’s in the kitchen of her Hidden Hills home, making herself a matcha (“If I drink coffee, I’ll have an anxiety attack”), fresh from a shower in pink FreeCity trackies and pink hair clips anchoring the centre parting in her still-wet hair.
She’s also sharper, funnier and more self-aware than you’d expect, but we’ll get to all that after we talk about the house. You need to know about the house. The catalogue of fancy cars parked at the front is impressive – there’s a Ferrari, a Range Rover… you get the picture. Inside, it’s even more impressive. In the dining room, a small army of stylists is unloading a department store’s worth of garment bags for a fitting Richie’s doing after I leave. (It’s a fitting “for life”, AKA some upcoming events, Richie tells me.)
There are distractingly shiny shoes and holy-shit gowns, which are quite a juxtaposition to everything else in the house, which is exclusively white, black, brown or a shade of grey. It’s the pristine kind of place that makes a normal person irrationally terrified of being offered Wotsits or red wine. Thankfully nobody offers me either.
Richie hops up to sit on the kitchen island, her slippered feet dangling off the edge. When I ask if she wants to move somewhere more comfortable, she shakes her head.“This is my natural habitat,” she says. Of course it is. This isn’t the first time I’ve visited Richie at home.
The last time was back in 2015, in the childhood bedroom of her childhood house. She was a 16-yearold budding style icon who I was interviewing for an indie magazine, and we spent time playing with her puppy and going through her wardrobe, talking about Tumblr, Balenciaga leather jackets and her modelling dreams.“I remember!” she says now.“That was probably one of my first shoots ever.” Richie, now 21 years old, makes it very clear that she no longer wants to be a model. In fact, she never really was one. It’s just that it fell into her lap because of, well, you know (her dad is the one and only Lionel Richie). “A lot of people just become models because they’re influencers,” she explains.“We would all get the same jobs, be in the same space and be labelled the same thing, and I hated it. It made me step back and be like,‘OK, I’m a creative individual and I want to be smart, start my own businesses, do something I can do on my own and not be attached to other people.’” She’s starting with a line of bikinis
and it’s sort of genius.“I love bikinis,” she tells me. She has no idea how many she owns. She tries her assistant, who is sitting nearby and also has no clue. “Like, 50 or 60?” Richie finally guesses. If you go by how many make appearances on her Instagram, it’s about, oh, a gazillion – inspiring comments that range from the complimentary (“oouuu okay bodyyyyyy”) and the wishful (“can I be you?!”) to the inexplicable (which one of you randomly tagged Enrique Iglesias?).“I feel like my following is always fascinated by the bikinis I’m wearing,” Richie says. That’s why she’s making her own. (She has more than six million Insta followers, btw. Do you know how much that is in bikini money?) She has big plans for this year.“It’s time to start hustling,” she says. “2020 is about no fear, and I’m doing things that would usually make me very uncomfortable.” This includes eventually expanding her collection into a full-on fashion line and launching a beauty company (she’s quick to clarify that it will be hair and body, not make-up), a YouTube channel and an acting career. That last one is something she’s been thinking about for a while. She did theatre as a child at an after-school club – Annie, Wicked, The Lion King – and she always got the lead. Today, she’s more into the idea of film and TV roles, and has been working with an acting coach.“I was too scared to fail and that was the reason I didn’t do it before,” she says. “This year, I’m not scared to fail. I don’t think there’s necessarily failing. It’s just learning and growing.” When I ask her how, specifically, she wants people to think of her, she doesn’t hesitate: “Badass triple threat.” Business owner. Actor. Activist. She’s still figuring out the latter: “I feel like there’s a space for me to talk about mental health, having dealt with severe anxiety,” she says so nonchalantly that it catches me off-guard. It’s not a surprise, exactly.
“I’m not scared to fail – it’s just learning and growing”
Young stars, like the rest of us, are just trying to survive 21st-century angst – while also, you know, dealing with screaming paparazzi.“It was zero-to-a-hundred panic attacks,” Richie says of her experience, brought on by “stupid things, like not having a water bottle in the car or getting stuck in traffic”. She went to doctors, but every single one tried to put her on prescription drugs, which she refused to take.“I read a lot of books, and once I figured out what I was doing to myself, I learned how to control it,” Richie says. “I would convince myself that I was panicking or that I wasn’t comfortable, and once I realised that I was doing that to myself and nothing was actually wrong with me, I was totally fine.” Meditation played a huge role too. She credits Miranda Kerr’s Reiki expert, who’s also a friend. She’s still not totally immune to that “oh my god, I’m about to freak out” feeling. “But,” she says, “I know how to be like, ‘Calm down, you’re here. There’s nothing to panic about.’” Even though she’s heading into multi-hyphenateentrepreneur territory, there’s still something she can’t quite shake off: how she got here. Namely, via a couple of very famous men in her orbit. But that’s not her fault. And just because it’s part of her origin story doesn’t mean she’s forfeiting control of the plot.“When things were first starting,” she says, “I was discouraged because everything I did was ‘Lionel Richie’s daughter.’” She stops and clarifies: she’s grateful – she wouldn’t be where she is without him – “But it’s hard branching out into my own person when I have such a powerful
artist as a father,” she continues. “My dad was always like,‘Once you find your thing, you’ll move away from that,’ and I feel like over the past couple of years, I found my lane in life to go the direction I want to go.”
Then of course there is Scott Disick. That’s right, you’ve made it to the Scott Disick portion of the story. For anyone who doesn’t know, Richie has been dating Disick, 37, for more than two years. Disick, as in Lord Disick of Keeping Up With The Kardashians (KUWTK) fame and father to Kourtney Kardashian’s three children. He is 16 years older than Richie, and the owner of the house they share, the one we’re currently sitting in. You’ve probably seen photos of the couple online or, more rarely, her
Instas of them sprinkled among solo pics. These are the photos that inspire the most haters, spurred, perhaps, by brand loyalty to America’s “royal family” or faux concern over a biggish age difference. Or maybe it’s just residual envy. Whatever it is, no thank you. Because when it comes to her relationship, Richie has “this weird thing where I just don’t care what people think”. The shit-talking she and Disick have endured “doesn’t bother me because I’m very happy,” she says. “Why would I let someone from the middle of nowhere ruin that for me?”
Richie has been friends with Kylie Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian’s sister, since they were 14.“No one’s a new friend,” says Richie. Disick and Richie’s relationship doesn’t have a starring (barely even guest-starring) role on KUWTK. You know that cringey hot-tub scene? Yeah, that’s pretty much it. (In the episode Richie joined Kardashian and Disick on a family trip to Finland and was filmed in a hot tub with them both and their children.) Which makes the freakout over Richie “leaving” the series she never “joined” in the first place seem… overblown? When I ask about getting along with a partner’s ex, Richie gives a no-frills answer: “I mean, just be nice. There’s no reason not to be nice.” That people make a big deal about the age difference between Richie and Disick is on them, she says. She thinks the gap is great. Her parents, she points out, are a number of years apart (18, to be precise), and to her – despite the fact that they are no longer an item – they are perfection. And not that it’s anyone’s business, but yes, her parents are fine with Richie dating Disick.
Anyway, back to Richie. Did you know that she does, in fact, smile? Her dad “hates it when I do the serious face” in photos, she says. You know the one: sizzly stare, lips barely parted, an expression that makes you want to apologise for bothering her. It’s just that she kind of can’t help it. “Look at my photos as a kid,” she offers as evidence of her lifelong resting-camera-face affliction .“People think I’m this serious, boring person,” she says. “But I have a big, bubbly personality.” She’s champagne bubbly: sweet with a hint of tart, unabashedly bold and aware of her privilege, as confident as her voice is raspy. And if you want to get the good stuff, you’ve got to hustle. She’s ready to put in the effort.“I want people to know that I have a lot of ambition to work hard,” she says. She leans forward.“I want to be known for the great things that I do in my life.” Not the dad or the boyfriend. Just Sofia – and all the cool stuff she’s got up her sleeve.
“I don’t care what people think about me and Scott [Disick]”