CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Interview: Kiss & Tell With Actress Lisa Rinna on Her ‘Rinnavation’
CHICAGO – At her book signing at Borders in Oakbrook, Illinois, a couple weeks back, actress Lisa Rinna had time to talk with HollywoodChicago.com about the trials and triumphs chronicled in her book “Rinnavation: Getting Your Best Life Ever.”
Lisa Rinna loves Chicago, having got her start as a catalog model here for Sears and J.C. Penney’s. Among her favorite things about the Windy City is her love for Garrett’s Popcorn, and she was lucky to have a admirer deliver a bucket to the book signing, squealing with delight when it was given to her.
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com
In a revealing interview, Rinna talks about her and husband Harry Hamlin’s careers as authors – he has just signed with the literary Scribner’s Publishing division for his work of fiction – and her career as soap opera actress, dancer with the stars, the red carpet and posing for Playboy.
HollywoodChicago.com: You are a famously honest person about your life’s struggles regarding keeping up the beauty image in Hollywood and other sensitive subjects. What truths are you revealing in your new book, “Rinnavation: Getting Your Best Life Ever”, that you haven’t revealed in past interviews, articles or releases?
Lisa Rinna: I have never talked about the “seal and the ring” and the “basket” and I’ve never revealed those names before. You’ll have to turn to pages 139 and 145 in the book to find out about them and know what they are.
HC: When doing a soap opera as you did for a long time, what aspects of the actor’s craft is most strengthened in that kind of environment?
LR: Memorization, professionalism, everything the craft has to be in order to get it done quickly. I believe It is the best training to get outside of Julliard or Yale or theater training. You can act in a box, you can act with a train coming at you, the train can hit you… and you’d still know your lines. If you stay present and on top of it, the soap opera is a great actor’s experience.
HC: In assessing your respective careers, what do you tease Harry [Hamlin] about his history and what does he tease you about yours?
LR: He teases me about my movie ‘Robot Wars’. I’ve been known to tease him about his kissing scene with Michael Ontkean in ‘Making Love’. How Michael shoved his tongue down Harry’s throat. From time to time I tease him how good of a gay character he can play, how he should be playing one now (laughs).
HC: You had a nice quote about dancing – and I assume your ‘Dancing With the Stars’ experience – saying that it allowed for “your soul coming through”. How did that Dancing show event redirect your life and career, and are you and Harry still hitting the dance floor?
LR: Harry and I are not hitting the dance floor, unfortunately. We put in a dance floor in our house when he was on the show because he said he had to practice so much, but we had to take it down last week and it was really sad.
I’m still dancing but Harry isn’t. He had a different reason for doing the show than I did and he accomplished what he wanted – to scare himself and do something that he’d never done before.
But for me it freed me, opened my soul, opened my heart. It showed me a way of living that I had never realized…that you can continue to reinvent yourself and do anything you want all throughout your life. It touched me deeply.
Photo credit: People.com
HC: What have you observed regarding the excess or circumstances about celebrity when you did the Red Carpet shows for TV Guide?
LR: It’s eye opening when you’re on that platform and you come across every single celebrity. The thing I would notice overall about everyone is that they’re all scare and nervous. And they’re just real human beings. Talented, some more comfortable than others, but it simply was a fascinating study in celebrity human nature.
It was not my favorite job, because sometimes you feel like the kid at school where sometimes you’re popular and other times you’re teased and rejected. Some would talk to you and others would walk right by and ignore you. I didn’t like being put in that position. I’m glad its over.
HC: Having appeared on the show, you’ve had a backstage pass to the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana phenomenon. With two young daughters of your own, how strange do you find gaining that much fame at such a young age and do you think Cyrus or even anyone can handle it?
LR: You know if anyone can handle it, it’s Miley Cyrus and her family. They are an amazing group. Celebrity is a weird beast anyway and if anyone has a chance to tame it, Miley has a great support system around her.
As long as she continues to evolve and grow, and her career keeps reinventing itself, I think she will be fine.
My kids, by the way, think I’m a superstar for doing these shows.
HC: You’ve famously pose nude twice for Playboy, recently and in 1998. What were the differences between those two pictorials and what statements did you want to make regarding them?
LR: I love doing Playboy and thought it was two really great moments for me. I never planned on doing it, it never crossed my mind. When I did the 1998 shoot while pregnant, it was definitely how beautiful I felt a pregnant woman’s body was. It was a statement for me about procreation, which is really what the magazine is about. We turned the Playboy rabbit on its ear.
Then I never really planned on doing it again until recently. Again, ten years later, it was about being really beautiful as a woman at age 45, still a sexual being. I guess both of those moments were not really typical Playboy moments.
It’s very empowering, I controlled and created the photo shoots each time. I wouldn’t change a thing about either one of them.
HC: Finally, through all of the soap-opera-actress, Melrose-Place-villain-ess, Playboy-posing, Dancing-With-the-Stars Lisa Rinna, what do you feel casting agents are missing about you, in regards to potential TV or movie roles that you know you have the chops to handle in the future?
LR: Comedy. People see the outside and what you’ve just described, but when you get to know me, follow me on Twitter and you see me in my real life, then comedy of some kind is the next step for me.
What’s next for me is an open book, I’m writing another book. Harry and I did a reality show for TV Land Prime. That looks close to a hundred percent to be picked up this fall.
Finally, I feel I have a third great character in me after Billie Reed [”Days of Our Lives”] and Taylor McBride [”Melrose Place”], I’m trolling for one more. That is out there for me. I just have to keep moving and grooving.