Lisa Rinna is living proof that a new life can begin at 40. Four years ago, the former Melrose Place actress was approaching that milestone age when she turned to her husband, one-time L.A. Law hottie Harry Hamlin, and announced that she wanted to start a clothing boutique.
No mere mid-life crisis, this quest for retail adventure transformed into a full-on enterprise, Belle Gray, now with two thriving boutiques in the San Fernando Valley and a much-trafficked e-commerce website.
Then two years later at 42, Lisa was approached by the producers of Dancing with the Stars. Would she, mother of two and actress who had never danced professionally, compete in front of 22 million viewers? “I’m not a dancer but my gut told me I had to do it,” Lisa says from her Hollywood Hills home. “I jumped at it.” Lisa didn’t win but she says the show marked a complete turning point for her: “It opened up so many doors for me and made my confidence soar,” she says. “Believing in yourself is so much more powerful than anyone realizes. I’m proof of that.”
Celebrating 10 years of marriage to Harry, a revived career, and a close-knit relationship with her daughters, Delilah Belle, 9, and Amelia Gray, 6, Lisa, 44, talks to Modern Mom about scheduling a weekly family date, dancing up a storm, and going for your dreams.
What’s your definition of a Modern Mom?
Ah, someone who juggles a lot! She’s a juggler. She does so much and she’s not afraid to be who she is. She goes after her dreams, takes risks, and she’s there for her children, all at the same time. She has a lot on her plate. That’s the Modern Mom I hope I am!
What’s your secret to balancing career and family?
I don’t think there’s a secret. The one thing I can come up with is that when you’re doing something, I do it 100%. I am in the moment. When I am with the children, I am WITH them. They know that and they feel that. When you’re with the kids, you should really pay attention — and not think about the grocery list or anything else. Or, when I am working, I am really doing that. Of course, that’s harder to do that because I am always thinking about the kids. If I am not with the family, my radar is up. But when I am with the kids and Harry, then I don’t have a care in the world. It’s hard, but it’s the key.
You don’t have to spend 24 hours a day with your kids, nor would they want you to. It’s all about the quality of the time you do spend. Give them the right attention and they feel loved and listened to. Harry is very good at this. The other day, the girls were playing hair salon, and Harry was the client. He had rubber bands in his hair — can you just picture that? He will sit there for hours. He is so patient. I learn from him.
What did your parents teach you about parenting?
My parents taught me to how important hugging and showing affection is. They taught me not to be afraid to say, “I love you.”
What do you want teach your children?
I want to teach them compassion, and kindness and giving. I want them to be strong women, that it’s okay to ask for what you want, go after your dreams, stand up for yourself, and have a point of view. To say, “I don’t like that,” and, “That’s not okay for me.”
The girls are at a really fun age. There are no more diapers or sippy cups. We had eight years of that and that’s a long time. We are now in that place where we can go anywhere. We can go to the movies together. It’s so much fun. They are funny and they have there own points of view. They are my favorite people. I like being with them and Harry more than anybody else.
Who do you admire the most?
My mom, who’s going to be 80 in June. She’s such a forgiving woman and she always manages to turn a negative into a positive. It’s a brilliant gift to have. She’s always been a strong role model for me.
What’s your favorite family activity?
Sunday is family day. It’s just the four of us and we all hang out together. No playdates, no help, just us. It’s a great thing to always look forward to. We go to the movies, or go to beach for lunch. We love having lunch at Tratinori in Malibu.
What is your greatest achievement?
I mean, having a family and keeping my marriage going! We’ve been married 10 years and we have a really happy marriage — that’s a pretty big achievement!
I’m also proud to be a working mom. Doing Dancing with the Stars was a turning point in my life. Getting on that challenge, and going out on a limb — it changed my life and my career, and made me stronger. I was 42 when I went on the show, and my life really took off, I turned the corner on any self-doubt I might have had and I came into my own as a woman.
I was happy to see how much the female viewers could relate to me. They could see themselves up there. I’m sure they thought, “Oh my gosh, she has two kids and she’s doing this.” The experience made me a much better mother, wife and woman.
So much came out of being on that show. I haven’t stopped working since. I wanted to do Broadway, and I did (Lisa and Harry starred in Chicago last summer). It really opened up an area in me that was dormant. My confidence soared. I wasn’t afraid to ask for anything. Believing in yourself is so much more powerful than anyone realizes. I’m proof of that.”
What products can’t you live without?
I can’t live without MAC “Purr” lipglass, Epicurean 45SPF sunscreen with bee pollen for my face, a pair of Tweezerman tweasers and NARS undereye concealer stick in ginger. Other products I use but can live without! These products are the ones that help you stay cute.
What do you do when you’re feeling selfish?
I shop at Barneys or somewhere I shouldn’t go! I also go to Beverly Hot Springs [in L.A.’s Korea Town] for treatments. I love that place.
What’s keeping you busy these days?
Oh gosh, well, of course the girls’ karate, playdates, birthday parties and homework. I’m also interviewing stars on the red carpet at the SAG Awards for TV Guide. I am doing the campaign for Jello and M&M. I’m also writing a diet and exercise book for Spotlight books, due out in late 2008.
I also started a dance class with Louie [Louis van Amstel], my partner from Dancing with the Stars [at Anisa’s School of Dance in Studio City]. It’s the greatest workout – cha cha, salsa, jive – and it’s the most fun you will ever have. We’re also planning to open a dance studio. Our classes attract people of every age and size — it’s great!