Our cover star isn’t obsessing over the comments on her bikini-clad Instas, the headlines about her relationship, or the latest rumors about some feud that doesn’t actually exist. But she knows you are—and that’s the whole idea.
It’s not polite to stare. Unless you’re looking at Sofia Richie, in which case it’s necessary. Call it the Instagram effect. Sofia is the embodiment of the can’t-look-away, cool-girl algorithm: glowy golden-hour skin × high-fashion athleisure + MTV Cribs–level, you-fancy-huh? backdrops ÷ comments like “Last night 🌹.” If you’ve never scrolled so far back on @SofiaRichie that you find yourself deep into a 2017 trip to Tokyo, ignoring your own 2020 in definitely-not-Tokyo, who even are you?
The IRL Sofia is less glossy, more understated sparkly. But just as relentlessly stare-able. Even when she’s in the kitchen of her Hidden Hills home, making herself a matcha (“If I drink coffee, I’ll have an anxiety attack”), fresh from a shower in pink FreeCity sweats, pink barrettes anchoring the center part in her still-wet hair. She’s also sharper, funnier, and more self-aware than you’d expect, but we’ll get to all that after we talk about the house. You need to know about the house.
The catalog of fancy cars parked out front (Ferrari, Range Rover, a few others too fancy to name [because I don’t know them]) is enough to make someone consider switching careers from writer to Luxury Car Thief. Inside, it’s even more…more. In the dining room, a small army of stylists is unloading a department store’s worth of garment bags for a fitting Sofia’s doing right after I leave. (It’s a fitting “for life,” aka some upcoming events, Sofia tells me.) There are distractingly shiny shoes and holy-shit gowns, a *chef’s kiss* juxtaposition to everything else in the house, which is exclusively white, black, brown, or a shade of gray. It’s the pristine kind of place that makes a normal person irrationally terrified of being offered Cheetos or red wine. (No one is offering me Cheetos or red wine.)
Sofia hops up to sit on the kitchen island, her slippered feet dangling off the edge. When I ask if she wants to move somewhere more comfortable, she shakes her head. “This is my natural habitat,” she says. Of course it is.
This isn’t the first time I’ve visited Sofia Richie at home. That was in 2015, in her childhood bedroom of her childhood house.
She was a 16-year-old budding style icon I was interviewing for an indie magazine, and we spent time playing with her puppy and going through her closet, talking about Tumblr and Balenciaga leather jackets and her modeling dreams. “I remember!” she says now. “That was probably one of my first shoots ever.”
Now-21-year-old Sofia makes it very clear that she no longer wants to be a model model. In fact, she never really was one. It’s just that it fell into her lap because of, well, you know. (Hint: You know.)
“A lot of people just become models because they’re influencers,” she explains. “We would all get the same jobs, be in the same space, and be labeled the same thing, and I hated it. It made me step back and be like, Okay, I’m a creative individual and I want to be smart, start my own businesses, do something I can do on my own, and not be attached to other people.”
She’s starting with a line of bikinis and it’s sort of genius. “I love bikinis,” she tells me. She has no idea how many she owns. She tries her assistant, who is sitting nearby and also has no clue. “Like, 50 or 60?” Sofia finally guesses. If you go by how many make appearances on her Instagram, it’s about, oh, a gazillion, inspiring comments that range from the complimentary (“oouuu okay bodyyyyyy 😍😍😍😍😍😍”) to the delusional (“can i be you!”) to the inexplicable (which one of you randomly tagged Enrique Iglesias?). “I feel like my following is always fascinated by the bikinis I’m wearing,” Sofia says. That’s why she’s making her own. (She has more than 6 million Insta followers, btw. Do you know how much that is in bikini money?)
It’s gonna be a big year—and that’s just an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow-polka-dot part of her master plan.
“It’s time to start hustling,” Sofia says. “2020 is about no fear, and I’m doing things that would usually make me very uncomfortable.” This includes eventually expanding her collection into a full-on fashion line and launching a beauty company (she’s quick to clarify that it will be hair and body, not makeup), a YouTube channel, and an acting career.
That last one is something she’s been thinking about for a while. She did theater as a kid in an after-school program—Annie, Wicked, The Lion King—and she always got the lead. (Today, she’s more into the idea of movie and TV roles, and has been working with an acting coach.)
“I was too scared to fail, and that was the reason I didn’t do it before,” she says. “This year, I’m not scared to fail. I don’t think there’s necessarily failing. It’s just learning and growing.”
When I ask her how, specifically, she wants people to think of her—because that’s what you ask someone on the verge of her big breakout moment—she doesn’t hesitate: “badass triple threat.” Business owner. Actor. Activist. She’s still figuring out the latter: “I feel like there’s a space for me to talk about mental health, having dealt with severe anxiety,” she says so nonchalantly that it catches me off guard.
It’s not a surprise, exactly. Young stars, like the rest of us, are just trying to survive 21st-century angst—while also, you know, dealing with screaming paparazzi. “It was zero-to-a-hundred panic attacks,” Sofia says of her experience, brought on by “stupid things, like not having a water bottle in the car or getting stuck in traffic.”
Meditation played a huge role too. She credits a Reiki expert, who’s also her friend Miranda Kerr’s (yeah, the supermodel) Reiki expert. She’s still not totally immune to that “oh my god, I’m about to freak out” feeling. “But,” she says, “I know how to be like, Calm down, you’re here. There’s nothing to panic about.”She went to doctors, but every single one tried to put her on prescription drugs, which she refused to take. “I read a lot of books, and once I figured out what I was doing to myself, I learned how to control it,” Sofia says. “I would convince myself that I was panicking or that
I wasn’t comfortable, and once I realized that I was doing that to myself and nothing was actually wrong with me, I was totally fine.”
But even though she’s heading into full-on multi-hyphenate entrepreneur territory, there’s still something she can’t quite shake off: how she got here.
Namely, via a couple of Very Famous Men in her orbit. But that’s not her fault. And just because it’s part of her origin story doesn’t mean she’s forfeiting control of the plot.
“When things were first starting,” she says, “I was discouraged because everything I did was ‘Lionel Richie’s daughter.’” She stops and clarifies: She’s grateful—she wouldn’t be where she is without him—“but it’s hard branching out into my own person when I have such a powerful artist as a father,” she continues. “My dad was always like, ‘Once you find your thing, you’ll move away from that,’ and I feel like over the past couple of years, I found my lane in life to go the direction I want to go.”
And the guy riding shotgun: Scott Disick. That’s right, you’ve made it to the Scott Disick portion of the story.
For anyone who doesn’t know (which is no one, but play along), Sofia has been dating Scott for more than two years. Scott, as in Lord Disick of Keeping Up With the Kardashians fame, father to Kourtney’s three kids, boyfriend 15 years older than Sofia, and the owner of the house they share that we’re currently sitting in.
You’ve probably seen s