Kyle Richards' daughters on their parents' breakup becoming reality TV: 'We're used to this'

For nearly 15 years, the four daughters of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Kyle Richards have been passengers to their mother’s journey on the reality TV superhighway.

Viewers have vicariously attended their birthday parties, watched their tear-filled departures for college and seen them navigate shifting extended family dynamics — all documented in the name of entertainment. In turn, they’ve made Richards a mainstay of one of Bravo’s most successful franchises, with a reputation for sharing an honest portrait of the life she shared with husband Mauricio Umansky.

Now, the three oldest children — Farrah Brittany, Richards’ daughter with ex Guraish Aldjufrie, and Alexia and Sophia Umansky — have stepped into the spotlight in their own right with Netflix’s “Buying Beverly Hills.”

The luxury real estate series follows the professional and personal exploits of employees at the Agency brokerage, which was started by Mauricio Umansky in 2011. And much of the action focuses on their evolving roles in the family business: Farrah the veteran, Alexia the up-and-comer and Sophia the intern.

But a bigger storyline was unfolding across both “Real Housewives” and “Buying Beverly Hills.”

When Richards and Umansky’s separation after 27 years of marriage first made headlines last summer, it rocked the “Housewives” fandom, and the scant details about their breakup fueled countless theories, including rumors of infidelity. Production on the recent 13th season of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” had already wrapped when the news broke — cameras picked up again to capture some of the fallout — and “Buying Beverly Hills” was in the middle of shooting its second season.

In an interview with The Times, the trio of sisters delved into moving from side players in their mother’s reality TV stardom to front-and-center cast members and opened up about watching the disintegration of their parent’s marriage play out across two reality shows.

Farrah Brittany, Alexia Umansky, Sophia Umansky in an episode of “Buying Beverly Hills.”


For more than a decade, you’ve been peripheral players in your mom’s reality TV stardom. With “Buying Beverly Hills,” the three of you are coming front and center. What factors did you consider when deciding to have your lives documented in this capacity?

Farrah: I was the most on the periphery, compared to my sisters. I moved out of the house at 17, and when I came back for college, I didn’t live at home. I kind of just popped in and out for fun. So when we were approached or told about the Netflix opportunity, my main concern was just really, was this really going to be a mainly real estate-focused show? … I was already relatively established by that point, so I just wanted to make sure this was going to be a positive effect on my career. And I was a little reserved, but I figured, at the end of the day, it’s in mostly my control what I say and what I do.

Alexia: It was kind of just thrown at me. When we heard that the Netflix show was even an idea, I don’t think Farrah and I had any idea that we were going to be so involved until our dad randomly told us after it was picked up. Obviously, we have the choice to go with it or not — that’s kind of when I was like, “It’s already been around for so long, everything’s kind of led me to this path and I’m ready for it. I’m comfortable with cameras around and, honestly, it could be fun.” I was really nervous in the beginning. I remember calling my dad and being like, “I don’t know anything. You should not put me on television for real estate. I don’t know anything.” And he’s like, “That’s the best part. That’s so real.” And when he said that, I was just “OK, I guess that’s what we’re in for.”

Farrah, your road to engagement was heavily highlighted in the first season. This season, we learn the engagement and relationship with Alex Manos is over. And it feels like you’ve set boundaries on just how much you’ll share about it for the cameras. How are you navigating how much of your personal versus professional life to share?

Farrah: It’s such a major thing, naturally people are going to ask you no matter what in real life, whether cameras are around or not. There’s a ring on my finger, what are the next steps? It’s not really something you can avoid. But I tried to, obviously, maintain as much respect for my prior partner [as possible]. He’s not a [cast] member of the show. So I try to have that balance of being open with my experience and speaking for myself and also being respectful toward him, but it’s not an easy line to walk.

Had you tried avoiding having the status of your relationship documented at all?

Farrah: The first season, for sure, because I truly was hoping to get engaged. And I thought that it being a storyline in real time was going to backfire. I was like, “Please stop talking about this because this is messing things up for me, potentially.”

Take me back to 2009-10. Were there family discussions before your mom signed onto “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” about what this might mean for you? What had been their concerns, what had been yours?

Alexia: I remember them sitting us down at our dining table. My mom and dad told us that they were thinking about joining “Housewives” and they spelled out what that means: cameras are going to be in our house, this is reality TV — that means this is real life, people are gonna know who you are; we are not characters. So we’re essentially opening up our life to people to watch for entertainment. And it was just like, “Are you guys OK with that? Do you understand what that means?” All I remember is just being excited, back in the day. I don’t ever remember being nervous or scared about it. [Turns to Sophia] Do you remember any of that?

Sophia: Not really. I was really young.

Farrah: I was already, I think, somewhat of a Bravo fan. I was just like, “Oh, this is so fun.” At that point, there was no thought of what could be the potential not-so-glamorous side of it.

Have you gotten used to the fact that complete strangers feel like they have this sort of immediate history with you from watching you for years?

Sophia: I have not gotten used to that. I still think it’s so surreal when I see someone and they think they know me. When the cameras are there, I don’t feel like they’re there. So then, thinking back, these people [viewers] actually saw what happened — like, I’m not the only one watching this; it’s not just me and my close friends watching. It’s not anything I think I’ll ever get used to, honestly.

Is there ever regret that your parents opened up their lives to reality TV?

Alexia: Obviously, there’s good parts and there’s bad parts. I wouldn’t change our past. I think “Housewives” and being on these shows has opened up so many opportunities for us. I don’t think the Agency would have grown as fast if it wasn’t for the the attention that “Real Housewives” brought to it. I’m just really honestly grateful for the experience. I know it’s really hard and it’s why I don’t watch it in real time because I struggled to see my mom have a hard time. But I don’t like to live by regrets.

Farrah: I think the last year was obviously not the best. Other than that, I wouldn’t take all of it away just because there was one bad year.

Alexia, I want to expand on what you said. In “Buying Beverly Hills,” there’s a moment when you and your sisters are having lunch with your mom and you get emotional sharing how tough it is to see your mom’s interactions with the women sometimes, especially when she’s in the hot seat. We saw you having to contend with some unsavory comments made by your colleagues and the professional fallout of that. How has watching your mom informed how you navigate drama?

Alexia: I definitely have learned a lot from observing how my mom feels when she comes home every day and from the bits I have seen. This is so clichéd, but just treat people the way you want to be treated. Sometimes things get really out of hand, and I just like to lead with kindness. I don’t like to see other people be mean to other people. I don’t like people being mean to my mom or my dad or my sisters… I think all of us have that sort of protection over each other. I just never want to make anyone feel bad. I will confront somebody, and I will call you out if I don’t like what you’re saying or doing, but I don’t think any of us are mean people.

When did you watch Season 2 of “Buying Beverly Hills”? Was it hard to hear what was being said about you, namely the comments that you taking over the Agency would amount to “business suicide”?

Farrah: We just watched the whole thing. We’ve gotten over it.

Alexia: Let’s just say we weren’t shocked.

Farrah: We still don’t think [fellow agent Michelle Schwartz] really had the right strategy or said the right words and kind of made her own assumptions of things that were not happening. Obviously, Mauricio’s not leaving the agency anytime soon. We never said she couldn’t have a seat at the table. We never said we were taking over the agency.

Alexia: And she denied everything to our face, but it was exactly how the boys say it was.

Farrah: I loved that little flashback. The edit was hilarious.

Alexia: I always believed the boys. So when I saw that I wasn’t shocked.

A group of women and a man sit at a table

Alexia Umansky, left, Kyle Richards, Mauricio Umansky, Farrah Brittany, Sophia Umansky, Portia Umansky in an episode from the new season of “Buying Beverly Hills.”


Obviously, there was built-in interest in the new season of “Buying Beverly Hills” because of the curiosity over your parents’ split. And we learn that cameras were rolling the day news leaked in the press that your parents had separated. What do you remember about that day? Did production allow you all time to take it in before they got the cameras back up?

Sophia: We were in Aspen [Colo.] as a family without cameras. And I think cameras arrived two days after. So we basically had that experience in one day where we all saw the article. And it was kind of shocking to all of us. Then we had a day to process, I guess, and figure out how we were going to open up about this on camera and how open we were gonna be and how we’re gonna go about it off-camera and on-camera… We weren’t going to change everyone’s schedule [since] a lot of the rest of the cast [were] coming to meet us.

Alexia: There was nothing we could do about it. They were coming, it was scheduled. The article came out. It was the day before Fourth of July. We were just putting on happy faces going about, trying to be normal. And then cameras were coming the next day. So it was just very little time to really process before the cameras were there.

Sophia: And that conversation that we had on camera was actually really the first conversation we had as a family because Farrah, I think, arrived that day. And prior to that, it was kind of—

Alexia: Just us…

Sophia: I broke down, and I had my dad come in my room, and then my mom come in my room; kind of like one-on-one. The next day, I was keeping to myself so that conversation on camera really was the first sit-down conversation we had.

Describe to me what it was like trying to process it between both shows?

Farrah: So odd. I think we’re maybe a little jaded because, like Sophia said, we don’t really feel like the cameras are there sometimes. It’s just natural that we know that, yes, this is what we signed up for. So there is some sort of expectation — and it’s kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If we don’t, then everyone is going to come for us anyways. I think we were fine to share what we did. I think we were very honest and open. And when you think, “OK, now we have to do this on two shows” — but we weren’t thinking like that. We’re used to this, and it just feels kind of par for the course, in a way.

There has been some criticism that your mom was guarded or too cryptic about the real story behind the breakdown of the marriage. How do you feel about that criticism and what people feel like they should have access to as a viewer?

Alexia: Honestly, it makes me really sad and really mad for anyone coming after our mom for not sharing enough. I know she got a lot of heat for that on “Housewives.” “Housewives” had finished filming by the time that article came out and, as we just mentioned, that was the first time we spoke about it as a family. People were demanding answers from my mom, the public was demanding answers from my mom — and we weren’t even ready to talk about it internally, we never had. Above all, she’s a mom, she’s protecting us. Everyone needs to realize that. Even if she is or isn’t ready to share, everything she does is with us in mind.

Farrah: Show does not come No. 1. She will give as much as she can, but she’s a mom and she’s looking out for us. I don’t know if people realize she’s truly navigating in real time. She hadn’t figured out all the things. It is so much to juggle… How do you protect your family? How do you appease an audience? Whatever it is. We are very protective of her because we think she did an amazing job, given all the circumstances, and doesn’t get enough slack. She’s a human being.

Your mom, on “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” and your dad, on “Buying Beverly Hills,” offer contrasting points of view on what the struggles in their marriage are. What, if anything, did you learn from seeing their takes side by side like this? Did anything they said on camera surprise you?

Sophia: I’m going to skip that question.

Alexia: I mean, the reality is, there’s two sides of every story and people are getting asked different questions. We’re navigating it all, and I don’t really know how to answer that.

A man stands between two women

Farrah Brittany, Mauricio Umansky, and Alexia Umabnsky in an episode of “Buying Beverly Hills.”


Where we’re at in the run of reality TV and the very online culture we live in, people are both savvier and more skeptical about the reality they are presented. Some people suspect your parent’s separation is a publicity stunt or find the timing a little too convenient. What do you say to that?

Sophia: I think that’s the most frustrating claim because it’s something we’re actually going through as a family, and for everyone to be accusing us of basically, faking this whole thing for a good storyline is rude and offensive and insensitive to what we’re going through. This is not easy for us. So I just wish everyone would be empathetic and understanding and not crazy people. Who does that?

When you look 10 years into the future, do you see yourself continuing to live your life on TV? Or do you hope your family will have pulled back by then?

Farrah: Oh, 10 years is a long time. I don’t know about that.

Alexia: I don’t know. I think what I’ve learned recently is just that you really never know where life takes you.

Farrah: Never say never. We’re going on, what?, Year 13 or something.

So many of the children of “Housewives” have come of age and could, theoretically, become the next generation. Could you ever see yourselves joining “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” or is that just not appealing at all?

Farrah: I would have to think long and hard before entering that arena.

Alexia: I feel like Sophia gives the most “Real Housewives” vibe. Would you?

Sophia: I’d have to think about that. I really don’t know.

Alexia: I guess we’ll see what happens.

Sophia: I wouldn’t shut it down now.

Alexia: Yeah, that’s another thing. I’m open to many opportunities. I think the “Housewives” could be kind of kind of fun.

Sophia: Totally.

Farrah: Should we all become “Housewives”?



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here