At 41, Nicole Richie has lived two very different lifetimes – before children, and after children. Before she fell pregnant unexpectedly in 2007, had lived a hedonistic life as a reality star on The Simple Life, before ending up hooked on heroin and getting arrested multiple times.
“I acknowledge that I was young, had a lot of freedom, and made some ‘bad decisions’,” Richie wrote in a personal essay on her past in 2016. “But how bad are they if it’s part of a journey to understanding who I am and what I stand for?”
When she became a mother to her daughter Harlow Winter on Jan 8, 2008, Richie entered phase two of her life: sober, devoted to parenthood, in a committed relationship with musician Joel Madden, and focused on building a successful career for herself. And rather than seeing her tumultuous past as something to be ashamed of, Richie has tried to use it as a pillar for her personal growth, not a lesson in regret.
“Moments of congratulation and celebrating who I am do not come without strangers pointing out how dark my life once was,” she wrote in 2016. “I am owning my past… but not trying to hide from it, not trying to change it, just allowing it to help propel me forward.”
Growing up with pop star Lionel Richie for a father, and with all the temptations of Hollywood excess at her fingertips, Richie inevitably fell victim to the usual cocktail of disaster: drugs, alcohol and no real boundaries or rules set in place.