Kim Kardashian’s first job in Hollywood was in the early 2000’s as Paris Hilton’s assistant, organizing the founding mother of reality TV’s closets and occasionally stepping into the limelight as a socialite herself. Then in 2007, E! premiered “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” which ran for 20 seasons, and made Kim one of the most famous women on the planet.
Today, Kim, at 41, is a mogul who juggles so many business portfolios, it’s hard to keep track — including her beauty and fragrance empires and her shapewear company SKIMS, which was recently valued at $3.2 billion. And next month, Kim’s spotlight is only going to get bigger with a new Hulu series “The Kardashians,” where she lets the cameras (back) into her life as she chronicles her roles as entrepreneur, mom to four kids, legal eagle and a divorcee, grappling over a challenging split from her ex-husband Kanye West.
And after all the time in the public eye, Kim continues to surprises us, as she has with her new relationship with comedian Pete Davidson, which seemingly sparked after she hosted “Saturday Night Live” last October. As part of Variety’s cover story on the Kardashians, Kim spoke to us for 47 minutes from her home and later, her car.
Earlier this year, SKIMS doubled valuation to $3.2 billion. What do you attribute to your company’s success?
I definitely never imagined that it would be that successful. I do everything from picking the fabrics and the product design to the campaigns – I’m in the campaigns and I’m the fit model. It’s a full-time job. Nothing comes easy. You really, really have to work really hard at it.
As you look to the future, what are your goals for SKIMS and your beauty and fragrance brands?
I’m really excited to relaunch beauty soon. Launching a new brand is so exciting to me. It’s fun and scary and creative to launch a new brand, and it’s super motivating. I’ve always taken products that I’ve struggled to find out there in the marketplace, so made them myself. I feel like I’m like a solution-based brand. I just want people to genuinely love our products and figure out a way to just be super inclusive, like we already are. That’s the main goal.
Are you the next Kris Jenner? What I really want to ask you is if you’re going to take over the family empire whenever your mom decides to step aside?
I think she thinks that. And I think my sisters think that. Honestly, I don’t see it. I will help them all find a manager. You know, I’ll make sure we’re all good. I’ll never let us not be.
We’ve seen a change in you over the years. With your legal work and prison reform, it seems that a major part of your life is being guided by a desire to help others. At what point did you realize that you could use your fame for good?
When I went to the White House [in 2020] and was able to get someone released from prison, that was the biggest moment for me where I realized I can make a difference. I really had no idea what the system was like, or I just was really ignorant to everything that goes on. Once I learned about it and saw what really happens, I felt like there was so much more that had to be done. We only have so much time on this planet that I just want to do everything as quick as possible. There are a lot of people that can’t fight for themselves and if I can make a difference and fight for them, I would so badly want to. It’s like not really a choice. I just don’t even feel like it’s an option. This is what they need.
Do you ever think about leaving this life of fame behind, and fully focusing on your legal career?
I don’t really know if I would fully take it on. The ultimate goal would be to have a law firm that really helps continue this fight. I truly believe that the smartest people I’ve ever met are people that are on the inside: incarcerated people, they spend so much time learning about their cases and figuring out the law. They only have themselves to save their lives. It would be amazing to start a firm and have formerly incarcerated people run it and work there.
How would you describe your life in your 40s?
When you’re in your 20s, you really have no clue what’s going on and you have no clue how easy life is. And you have no idea what you’re doing 30s. In your 40s, you are together. You know your career, you know exactly where you’re going and you don’t give a fuck. And then I heard 50s – not that I’m rushing – are the best, like actually zero fucks given in life. It’s a good place to be when you’re confident and secure, and you just want to live a positive life and want everyone to be happy. That comes a little bit with age, I think it comes with being a parent, it comes with just life experiences.
I know you said you’re not in a rush, but where do you hope to be in your 50s?
I hope to be happy and I hope that all my kids and everyone around me that I love are happy because ultimately, all that matters in this lifetime is that you’re a good person. You learn a lot of lessons because everything that comes your way and everyone that steps into your life – the good, the bad, the ugly – is a lesson. If you’re closed off to it, you’re not going to grow, and life is about growing and evolving. I just hope that I would’ve finished law school, finally. I’m very hopeful that that would happen by my 50s, and if not, then I need to reconsider my whole existence.
Sorry, I know this is a silly question, but since I hear you chewing, I want to know what Kim Kardashian is snacking on.
I’m eating a vegan Chinese chicken salad with some kind of pita bread that is grilled and crispy and the best thing I’ve ever had, actually.
Are you fully vegan now?
No, I’m vegan when I’m at home, and that’s most of the time. When I travel, I don’t really eat meat, but I’m not really opposed to it. But we had a barbecue the other night and I was really hungry, so I had something. And I can never resist In-n-Out. But I don’t do it often at all.
So, let’s get into to the new show “The Kardashians.” I watched the first episode.
I’m dying to know what you think.
It felt current, and it also feels newsy. I feel like you are going to be breaking news in this show.
Oh my God. Like what?
Well, you talk about Pete Davidson a bit, which was the first time that I’ve heard you talk about him.
I actually don’t talk about him. Well, they were trying to get me to – and I do later on – but you’ll see my family members and friends always asking me questions. There were times when I was seen out [with Pete] and then I would be with my family or friends, like my mom had a birthday party a few days after, and I walk in and everyone’s like, “Hello, excuse me!?” Everyone kept on asking me and I was like, “You guys, everyone just leave me the fuck alone and let me live my life.” Let me take a page out of Kourtney’s handbook, and let me just live my best life.
You’ll just have to see, but I’m always open and honest and I’ll never not be, so you’ll definitely get that honesty and openness when it comes to the relationship that I’m in. I definitely explain how we met and who reached out to who and how it happened and all the details that everyone wants to know. I’m definitely open to talking, and I definitely explain it.
Have you filmed with Pete?
I have not filmed with him. And I’m not opposed to it. It’s just not what he does. But if there was an event happening and he was there, he wouldn’t tell the cameras to get away. I think I might film something really exciting coming, but it wouldn’t be for this season. It wouldn’t reach until next season.
So, I was saying, the show feels very newsy. I was thinking that compared to the time of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” nowadays you don’t actually share as much about your personal life as you used to. Are you purposely using the show as an outlet to share your personal life with the public?
The difference is as we’ve gotten a little bit older – I don’t want say the word “older.” I hate saying that. As we’ve gotten a little bit — I mean, whatever, who cares, as we’ve gotten older, we’ve also gotten a little bit more private. We don’t post so much on social media. We do our looks and this and that, but as far as our personality, we used to do Snapchat movies and videos, and not everything has to be on social media. Even though you think you see so much because you see paparazzi photos and whatever, there’s so much that you don’t see. I just think that we will use our show outlet to do that. We just value privacy as people. We’ve evolved and changed, and we choose to just be a little bit more private.
When I watched the first episode, I didn’t know what to expect in regards to Kanye. You began filming the show in September 2020, so obviously a lot of this was shot before your divorce proceedings started playing out in the public eye, and in the first episode, you two seem to have a great, close relationship. I don’t want to assume anything, but it appears that things might have changed. On the show, are you going to show more of what’s going on currently with you and Kanye, or is that a topic that is off limits since it’s so personal?
You know what? I share a lot of myself, but as far as any details, I think that you might see my family just concerned with me. I’m always really respectful of what the kids will see. The reality is, we’re always family. We always will have a love and respect for each other. And even if there’s moments where it might not seem like that, there are so many moments that are super positive.
I do think it’s important for people to see that things aren’t perfect all the time, but that they can get better. And it’s not that I’m trying to just put out one thing in the world and not share – there are definitely moments where I’ve been tested myself. Things might take a turn, and then they always get back to good. And I would probably share that, but we haven’t gotten to those episodes yet, and I would never say anything without communicating first and having that open dialogue.
The thing is, I just believe in being positive and speaking highly. I would never say anything negative about the father of my children, and I think we both ultimately want the same goals. I will, as of now, and hopefully always, take the high road.
I truly believe that I can show that I might be frustrated and I can express that, just like I’m expressing to you. The show is very documentary-style and we break the fourth wall a lot, so I might look into camera and say, “Listen, my kids will see this one day. Am I frustrated? Am I feeling this? Am I feeling that? Yes. But that all the emotions are temporary.” As long as I have the kids best interest, that’s all I can focus on and that’s all I care to share. But we do see a lot of our co-parenting journey, which I think is going to be really beautiful for people to see.
I imagine it’s not easy to have this playing out in a public forum.
Thank you. Being in the public eye and having disagreements publicly is never easy. But I do believe in handling it all privately. I believe in championing publicly and criticizing privately. I don’t think I would ever criticize the father of my children on my TV show. That’s just not really what I’m about, and I just don’t think that would ever make me feel good.
Well, I really do hope that you are doing OK.
I’m just always hopeful. So, you know, everything’s all good.