Lisa Rinna Opens Up About Parenting, Playboy, and Dancing with the Stars

Filed under: Celeb Parents, Books for Parents

Lisa Rinna posed for Playboy -- at 45! Photo by Kristian Dowling, Getty Images

Lisa Rinna is best known for her acting ("Days of Our Lives", "Melrose Place"), her dancing ("Dancing With The Stars") and her hosting (TV Guide Channel, SoapTalk). Now she has written a book, Rinnavation: Getting Your Best Life Ever, available on May 19 from Simon Spotlight Entertainment. ParentDish spoke with Lisa about a wide range of topics, including posing for Playboy at 45, her two daughters and how her husband Harry Hamlin feels about some of the topics she covers in "Rinnavation" (such as their sex life). Here are some highlights from our lively exchange:

The book
Rinnavation began as a diet and fitness book, inspired by the phenomenal shape Rinna was in after "Dancing With The Stars." Then, she says, "the whole thing morphed into a book about everything that I believe in." Though not an autobiography, it is "autobiographical...it stems from my experience and what I've been through." Rinnavation still talks about diet and exercise and fashion, but also "motherhood, spirituality, marriage -- I cover everything."

On being teased as a kid
A somewhat surprising part of Lisa's past is the fact that she was teased "horribly, from the time I was seven until I was 16." This isn't the typical beautiful woman complaining that she was chastised for being too tall or having long legs. "I grew up in Newport Beach, California, very hip place. I was very dark skinned, I'm Italian and Portuguese background, and I was out in the sun all the time," she said. "So picture this very very dark girl, very skinny, wearing really short dresses, being transferred up to a place called Medford, Oregon. I think they still had a sundown curfew. I was teased because I looked completely different from everybody else."

On psychotherapy
"I spent 11 years in therapy," she said. "I'm really glad I went through it." She was introduced to the idea when she was in her 20's by an old boyfriend who she says "had a really disturbing childhood. He was like, I think you need to go to therapy [too], and I was like, OK." She has also been to couples counseling with her husband, Harry Hamlin; the marriage is Lisa's first, but it is Harry's third. "Harry wasn't real game to get married [again]," Lisa said. "So couples therapy helped."

On being open about sex
In the book, Lisa says "I go into sex in a way that people will be really shocked by." How did Harry feel about that? "Harry's much more private, much more reserved than I am," she says. "He just wanted to make sure that I didn't open the door to our bedroom and say 'c'mon in.' I am very open [in the book] about things that I feel will help women. So I was coming from that angle, not the angle of 'I'm going to tell you exactly what Harry and I do and this is what it is.' Was I a little more forthcoming than he wanted me to be? Yes," she said, laughing. "But that's how our life is anyway. I'm always more forthcoming than he would like me to be, in general."

On her experience with post-partum depression
After her first child, Delilah Belle, was born, Rinna says that she was depressed for 15 months, but did not seek treatment. "After having a baby, you're supposed to feel so blissful," she said. "I felt too shameful to even tell Harry [how I was feeling]. I buried it, I kept it to myself. I kept thinking, I'm crazy, something's wrong with me."

After the birth of her second daughter, Amelia Gray, Lisa says that she took anti-depressants for 2 1/2 - 3 months, "then my doctor started to ween me off of it. It saved me. It absolutely reset my hormonal clock." For her, the depression "was completely chemical. The way my doctor described it to me was, your level of hormones is at 3000 when you give birth. The second you give birth, it drops to zero. For me, [post-partum depression] rocked my world. I'm the most positive person, I'm never negative, I just live my life in a very up, positive way. And when I had post-partum depression, I was hopeless. I had horrible visions of knives, and guns...it's hard to describe because it's so freaky. Psychotic thoughts." In general, she feels that PPD "is such a horrifically surprising thing that you go through," and that too many women feel ashamed and don't ask for help. She hopes that telling her story can help other women who may be going through similar agony. Though she does not consider herself a spokeswoman for PPD, she is thrilled that other women feel a kinship with her after they read about her experiences. "I had a woman come up to me in the bathroom at Target, breastfeeding her 3-month-old baby and say 'Lisa, I have to tell you, you saved me.'"

On parenting
With all of Lisa's various jobs, her husband takes on a lot of the parenting chores that in some families are the mother's responsibility. "We switch it up," Lisa said. "[Harry] really wanted to do that. He has a 28-year-old son [from a previous marriage] that he was not able to be really present with. [So] when we decided to have children, [Harry decided] that he was going to be there for these kids...he was not going to work, he was not going to be gone, and he's done that. And that has been an amazing thing."

Not that Lisa doesn't have time to be a mom. One of her favorite things to do is drive her children to and from school, because "that's when we have the best talks. They're very open, and they start chit-chatting away, and we just have some doozers." On a recent commute, the topic was divorce. "There are so many divorced parents in my 10-year-old's class. There are more divorced parents than married parents. And I thought, wow, we were trying to talk about that, wrap our brains around that, and trying to have a discussion about that with the kids. Delilah was saying, 'the kids I know that their parents are still married, they just seem to be nicer, mom. They just seem to be happier.' She said, 'the kids that come from divorced parents, they're mad, and they say things that are inappropriate. I think I like the kids that have married parents better.' It was a fascinating conversation."

On posing for Playboy
"I posed nude 10 years ago, when I was pregnant with Delilah. I didn't think I was going to pose again. It's very empowering to be able to strip yourself. To me its just another thing to do in my womanhood, another thing that I think society is weird about." Though she admits to having some reservations about the photos, she says that her girls are "still too young to really understand it all. I think it'll be an interesting thing once they're older." She also points out that "Harry and I have both done movies and television that were inappropriate for children." And what would she say if her girls grew up and told her they wanted to pose for the men's magazine themselves? "If they want to pose for Playboy when they're 45," she said with a laugh, "that's fine."

Lisa Rinna's book, Rinnavation: Getting Your Best Life Ever (co-written with Maureen O'Neal) will be available in bookstores and online beginning on May 19.

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