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Nicole Richie on dad Lionel attending her film premiere: He 'kept talking the whole movie'

Richie's parents came out to support her during the recent LA premiere of her movie “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.”
/ Source: TODAY

Nicole Richie’s parents supported her on the red carpet at the recent Los Angeles premiere of her latest movie, “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.”

The actor’s mom and dad, Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey Richie, have long been rooting for their daughter, whom they began caring for as a toddler and officially adopted at age 9. 

Her parents couldn't have been more excited to watch their daughter on screen at the premiere, Richie said during a visit to TODAY with Hoda & Jenna on April 10.

“My dad was very loud, you guys. He kept talking the whole movie," she said. "He was like, ‘Oh, this is great. Oh, my God, I can’t believe it. Oh, she is so funny!’ And I was like, ‘Dad.’ We’re in a room full of people. And my mom was the same, just as bad."

Lionel Richie, Lisa Parigi, Harlow Madden, Sparrow Madden, Nicole Richie, Brenda Harvey-Richie, and Joel Madden
Nicole Richie's parents, Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey Richie (second from right), and other close family members supported her at the Los Angeles premiere of "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead" on April 2.Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images

Richie, who is a mom to two teenagers, also reflected on the way she was raised, and how that has affected her own parenting style.

While Richie, 42, said her kids would consider her the "strict one" as a parent ("I never in a million years thought that that was going to be me!"), she also doesn't put too much focus on imposing rigid rules.

“I’m actually not a big ‘these are the rules' (parent)," she told Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager. "I definitely was raised that way, and I was like, ‘Great, I’m just going to do the exact opposite.’

"I love my kids but I also respect them," she added. "I love who they are as people and I think if we can just have an open conversation about things, then we’re good.”

Richie has spoken glowingly of her parents in the past. She celebrated her mom and dad in a sweet Instagram post for National Parents Day in 2018, sharing a throwback photo of the musician and Harvey Richie.

“It’s #nationalparentsday & these are mine,” she wrote in the caption. “I love you both and am inspired by both of these hairstyles.”

Read on to learn more about Nicole Richie’s parents and her adoption story.

Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey Richie took in Nicole as a toddler

Nicole came into the lives of Lionel Richie, 74, and his then-wife, composer Brenda Harvey Richie, when she was a toddler.

Lionel Richie recalled first seeing little Nicole at a Prince concert.

“The discovery was not the show for Prince,” the “Stuck on You” singer said in an episode of the HuffPost "Talk to Me" series in 2016. “The discovery was: there’s a 2-year-old on stage with Prince playing a tambourine.”

He and his now-ex-wife “instantly fell in love with her,” Brenda Harvey Richie told Vanity Fair in 2006.

Lionel Richie knew Nicole’s biological parents, who often left Nicole with other people, and as Lionel told Vanity Fair, he sensed this instability played a role in Nicole’s flair for performing.

“She was a hell of a salesperson,” he said. “She knew every song, every dance, and when she did her Shirley Temple thing, everyone was saying, ‘Nicole, you are the cutest thing!’ She was an entertainer, but she was looking for approval. It was: ‘If you like me, maybe you’ll keep me.’”

A young Nicole Richie with father Lionel Richie and mother Brenda Harvey Richie at a benefit concert in 1985.
Lionel Richie and his then-wife, Brenda Harvey Richie, brought Nicole to a benefit concert in 1985 in New York City.Ron Galella, Ltd. / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The singer also recalled that Nicole had "abandonment issues" as a child due to her turbulent early years.

“I remember you had abandonment issues for obvious reasons," he told his daughter in the HuffPost interview.

"You’d been handed around to every relative in the family,” he said. “I remember what I said to you. I said, ‘I’m never, ever going to leave you.’”

Richie and his wife offered to take Nicole in temporarily to give her stability. While caring for her, they enrolled her at Buckley, an exclusive Los Angeles private school also attended by Paris Hilton.

“Nicole was actually a godsend. She was a little girl who needed a shot,” Lionel Richie told People in 2022. “She was used to people coming and going. She looked at me and I’d say, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’”

Nicole Richie was officially adopted at age 9

When they first took in Nicole, Lionel and Brenda didn’t think they would adopt her permanently. However, the longer they spent with Nicole, the more they bonded with her.

Lionel Richie even wrote a song for her that he released when she was 5 years old, his 1986 hit single “Ballerina Girl,” which includes the lyrics, “Ballerina girl/ The joy you bring me/ Every day and night/ Holding you tight/ How I’ve waited for your love.”

The Grammy winner joked that his daughter “never lets me forget” that he wrote the song for her. 

“I would go to her little ballet classes, if you can imagine Nicole in ballet classes,” he told MSNBC in 2004.

After informally caring for her for several years, Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey Richie officially adopted Nicole when she was 9. 

Nicole’s adoptive parents later divorced in 1993.

“Brenda and I went through a very interesting time,” Lionel Richie told People in 2022. “We didn’t agree on a lot of things, but we did agree on (Nicole).”

Nicole Richie with her family as Lionel Richie is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Nicole Richie with family members as Lionel receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Jim Smeal / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The "Easy" singer was then married from Diane Alexander from 1995 until 2004, and they welcomed two children during that time: singer Miles Brockman Richie, 29, and model Sofia Richie, 25. 

While Nicole Richie's parents went their separate ways, they came together to celebrate Lionel Richie at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2017.

Nicole Richie shared an Instagram video featuring both of her parents at the event.

“Oh, I am so happy that you are here, you and Mom,” Lionel Richie said, kissing his daughter on the cheek.

"The last time I was on a trip with both of my parents, they were married & I was 9. But we’re back, & so far it’s pretty chill,” Nicole Richie wrote in the caption.

Nicole Richie and her parents have opened up about their relationship over the years

Lionel Richie opened up to his daughter about how she changed his life during their "Talk to Me" HuffPost interview in 2016.

“I think you ... changed my life a great deal in terms of softening my heart, because everything up to that point was about songwriting and the business and touring,” he said. “All of a sudden I found something that I could actually fall in love with that was never going to leave me. How about that?”

Brenda Harvey Richie has also publicly celebrated her love for her daughter. In September 2023, she posted a cute throwback photo of Nicole on Instagram for her 42nd birthday.

“Happy Birthday to my beautiful daughter. Nicole you will always be my baby girl. I love you more than life itself,” she wrote in the caption.

“Love you mom,” her daughter replied in the comments, adding a string of heart emoji. 

Lionel Richie has also gushed about being a proud grandfather to Nicole’s two children.

The actor and her husband, Joel Madden, share a daughter, Harlow, 16, and a son, Sparrow, 14.

“While it may take me a moment to adjust to being called grand dad, I am extremely happy and proud of Nicole and Joel,” the singer said in a statement to People after Harlow was born in 2008. 

Nicole and Lionel Richie reflected on their relationship and shared some sweet father-daughter moments in their 2016 HuffPost interview.

Los Angeles Premiere Of "Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead"
Lionel Richie supported his daughter at the Los Angeles premiere of "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead" on April 2. Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images

“You’re doing well, you’re doing well,” Lionel Richie told his daughter warmly.

“You’re very gentle with me," she told her dad at another point. "I feel like you and I have a really good, strong relationship."