Nicole Camille Escovedo was born in Berkeley, California, on September 21st, 1981. Her biological mother was a backstage assistant for singer and musician Lionel Richie. Her biological father is often cited as Peter Michael Escovedo, also a member of Lionel Richie’s band.
At the age of three, because financial reasons, Nicole moved in with her father’s band mate, Lionel Richie, and his wife. Six years later, the Richie’s officially adopted Nicole and she took her father’s last name.
She attended The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, California, and was considered to be a very bright student. Her teachers regarded her as particularly gifted in music and the arts. She studied a variety of instruments, including the guitar, cello, piano and violin and was also very skilled at ice skating.
After attending Montclair Prep High School, Richie enrolled in a college course in arts and media at the University of Arizona. Richie rose to prominence for her role in the Fox reality television series, The Simple Life, alongside her childhood best friend and fellow socialite Paris Hilton, which lasted five seasons.
The Simple Life was a hit for the Fox network, premiering with 13 million viewers,and brought Richie and Hilton to international recognition. Richie’s personal life attracted significant media attention during The Simple Life’s five-year run and she was a constant fixture of tabloid journalism before and after her appearance.
Fox consequently cancelled the show after a disagreement between Hilton and Richie, but it was aired by E! Entertainment Television for the fourth season, which was a hit for E! Drawing nearly one million viewers and a relatively unsuccessful fifth season, more complications arose during the production of a fifth season.
Both Richie and Hilton faced major charges for DUI, and were at risk of serving jail time. Hilton was sentenced to 23 days in jail, though this was after production of the season had finished.
In 2005, Richie made her acting debut in the comedic drama Kids in America. Richie has guest starred in television series including Eve, Six Feet Under and American Dreams, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, and playing the recurring character Heather Chandler on Chuck.
Also In 2005, Richie wrote a novel called ‘The Truth about Diamonds’ loosely based on her own life. The novel tells the story of Chloe Parker, the adopted daughter of a singer.
The heroine battles with drugs and alcohol, while being seen at all the coolest nightclubs and parties in Hollywood. One of the other characters in the book, Simone Westlake, is thought to be based on Paris Hilton.
In reality, her lifelong friendship with Paris was under threat. At the beginning of 2005, rumours were surfacing that the two girls had fallen out. In September 2006, Richie refuted claims that she had an eating disorder, she was admitted to hospital in March 2007 because of dehydration and it was later announced that she had been diagnosed as suffering from hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar.
Richie is married to musician Joel Madden and they have two children, Harlow and Sparrow. Richie and Madden founded “The Richie Madden Children’s Foundation” in 2010.