‘RHOBH’: Why Lisa Rinna Was Passed up After Her Audition for Season 1

Soap opera alum Lisa Rinna became a fan favorite after joining Bravo’s hit franchise Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Though she is now considered a full-fledged reality star, Rinna’s previous fame almost kept her from being a member of the RHOBH cast.

Lisa Rinna of 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' smiles on set of 'Watch What Happens Live' |
Lisa Rinna of ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ | Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Lisa Rinna was originally an actor

Rinna has a slew of acting credits to her name including long-running stints on Days of Our LivesMelrose Place, and Veronica Mars. She also starred in various TV movies like Close to Danger, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield, and Another Woman’s Husband. Rinna eventually decided to venture into the reality space with gigs on Dancing With the Stars and Celebrity Apprentice, which ended up preventing her from landing scripted roles.

“I couldn’t really get an acting job anymore because I had now become a reality star,” Rinna told the Los Angeles Times in 2019. “And I was like, … now what do I do?”

When the opportunity to try out for RHOBH came knocking, Rinna was comfortable with her crossover into reality television.

“By the time Housewives came along, I wasn’t afraid of it,” she revealed. “I knew it was a direction I had to continue to go on.”

RELATED: Eileen Davidson From ‘RHOBH’ Reveals How Her Friendship Changed With Lisa Rinna Because of the Show

Andy Cohen had doubts about casting Lisa Rinna

When season 1 of the Bravo series was recruiting, Rinna assumed she was going to be a part of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills after multiple meetings.

“I went in and made a tape and they came to the house and filmed a little sizzle reel,” Rinna said, according to People. “Usually when you get to that point, you’re on the short list.”

Between her television exposure and marriage to L.A. Law alum Harry Hamlin, RHOBH executive producer Alex Baskin thought Rinna was ideal for the cast.

“We thought Rinna was an interesting choice because she was such a Hollywood type,” he explained. “Sort of the actress/entertainer who was still hanging on and has a famous husband.”

Yet Bravo bigwig Andy Cohen didn’t like Rinna’s resume. He was concerned that her fame from acting roles and reality television would prompt viewers to see her as a performer rather than a “housewife”. Cohen also didn’t want Rinna’s notoriety and Hollywood marriage to take attention away from the rest of the cast.

“Lisa Rinna had been on so many reality shows, it just seemed like a parody to me,” Cohen remarked. “For me, it needed to be about real women. I didn’t think we should have an actress, and I didn’t think any of them should be famous.” 

‘Real Housewives’ franchise ditched the ‘non-famous’ rule

Cohen clearly ditched his concerns over those with some fame to their name. Denise Richards, Eileen Davidson, Garcelle Beauvai, and Kyle and Kim Richards all have acting stints on their resumes. As for Rinna, Cohen is reaping the benefits of giving her a chance on the franchise in season 5.

“She’s fun to watch,” Cohen said of the RHOBH star. “She’s funny and she makes fun of herself. She understands her place in the world, and she’s very secure with herself. I just think she’s entertaining.”

Rinna credited RHOBH with putting her on the Hollywood map, saying, “I’ve never been more famous than I am at this point, because of the show.”