Star of NBC series Great News, Nicole Richie talks about being the face of a beauty giant.
by SunHee Grinnell
Nicole Richie, star of NBC’s Great News, has been known as something of a prankster within her close-knit circle of friends and family, her famous father and singer Lionel Richie often playing the victim. (Her time on The Simple Life and Candidly Nicole introduced the streak to a national audience.) Now that she’s 36—a wife, a mother of two, a business owner, a philanthropist, and an actress—Richie may have cooled her antics, but she’s still a troublemaker at heart.
“You know that I also sing and I rap,” Richie says, coyly. “I actually love singing more than lip-syncing and I have a rap stage name, which is the same as my gardening name and that’s Nicky Fre$h (yup, with the dollar sign for S), but I don’t sing for free.”
In other words, Richie is “playful, tough, and smart, an empowered grown woman but with a girl perspective at heart and on life,” says Wende Zomnir, the C.C.O. and the founder of Urban Decay Cosmetics. When she was naming Troublemaker, a mascara that has potential to become the next Maybelline Great Lash, the list of potential “faces” was short.
“We questioned, who really embodies that attitude,” she says, “and we thought of Nicole Richie right away as she is the ultimate troublemaker.”
For Richie, the partnership is her first foray into beauty ambassadorship, “I’m not getting any younger, so yes, and I am really excited!” she says. “I remember being 14, driving to the mall to buy U.D.’s Uzi eye shadow, which was a shade of gunmetal. And when I sat down with Wende, the U.D. girl was all about defining beauty for herself and staying away from trends—it was about self-expression and letting it be an individual experience.”
And no one defines Urban Decay’s philosophy better than Zomnir herself. Standing six-feet tall (and that’s without heels), a mother of two boys (aptly named Crush and Cruz), and a heliboarding and surfing athlete, she seems to be aging in reverse with a matching youthful heart. When asked about the recipe for success—she launched Urban Decay 20 years ago and was acquired by L’Oreal five years ago—Zomnir explains that part of the success is about the people at the company. ”The age ranges from not-yet-drinking age to 65, that 65-year-old who dares to say, ‘Bring on the glitter!’” L’Oreal may be part of the big picture, but “we’ve managed to stay pretty independent because it’s really important to feel like ‘we made this.’ People want to buy things from other people, not from corporations. So we create our own products.” Zomnir adds with a smile, “My brand is the girl I never had!”
This brings us to the brand’s new innovative mascara.
“We worked so hard on it,” Zomnir says. “We made the brush. A lot of the brushes come off the laboratory shelves, but we actually created this one from fresh. The magic of the wand are the hooks, all the way up and around at different angles so you will never have a bad lash day with this guy. No one else has this brush and it’s made in U.S.A. We also have two kinds of black pigments in it, plus lightweight silica and micro polymers to add curl and it fans out.”
“It’s about going against the grain,” Richie says. “It’s important for me to feel like myself because that’s what I need to feel like to be my most confident.” As for the double-walled packaging, Richie approves. “It’s unicorn colored so my daughter is going to love it, and the wand truly does wonders for the lashes,” she says.
The brand is launching a new video series of Richie’s troublemaking moments debuting next month. (Click here for a sneak peek.) Richie and Zomnir, arm in arm, threw a party for all the troublemakers in Downtown Los Angeles Tuesday night to celebrate their launch. The Hubble Studio warehouse setting was equipped with Hollywood skylights, In-N-Out Burgers, cotton-candy cocktails, a tattoo studio, and a paint-balloon dart wall spelling out Urban Decay, natch.