When “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” ended, rumors swirled that Kourtney Kardashian was the reason the show was over. The oldest sister of the Kardashian-Jenner clan says that’s not true. But, she was ready for a new start.
On reality TV and social media, Kourtney is known for “just living,” as she likes to say — in other words, her incredibly calm attitude, monotone delivery and honest demeanor has turned her into one of the most meme-able and GIF-able people on the pop culture planet. Throughout her family’s time on television, she has infamously spoken about not wanting to work as hard as her sisters. And she’s okay with that.
Now, the woman who notoriously gave birth on E! in 2009, tells Variety that she doesn’t envision herself living a public life for too much longer.
“I see myself living in another city. And I see myself still working because I love to work,” Kourtney says, looking ahead at her future. “I don’t think I see myself filming on a show in five years.”
More than a decade after her birth episode aired, Kourtney has no regrets. “That was something I did feel really proud about,” she says today. But she’s learned her lessons and wants to conceal a bit more, like her romance with fiancé Travis Barker. “It’s so sacred to me and I am very protective of it,” she says, speaking about her relationship with the drummer.
As part of Variety’s cover story on the Kardashians, Kourtney spoke to us over the phone in late February about her lifestyle company, Poosh, why she protects her children from the cameras and how she believes her family has impacted women.
There have been rumors that you are the reason “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” ended. Is that true, or do you want to put an end to those rumors right now?
No. I think that we were all ready to move on to something else. I was not like, “This show is over!” like people imagine. I kept saying for a few years, “It doesn’t have to be like this” and “there’s a better way to do this.” I felt bored a lot of times. Like, shaking salads all day and sipping tea, yeah, we still do that, but we have time for so many other things. What makes us happy and how do we want to use our time?
Did you think you’d call it quits on reality TV after ending “Keeping Up With the Kardashians?”
There was definitely a time where I thought I don’t want to film. I love simplicity. Like, it really makes me happy. I just need simplicity. But by having some time to breathe in between things, for the first time, after stopping “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” I felt like, “Oh, I actually have time to sit down and have some lunch.” Everything used to be heavy multitasking.
But still, you’ve spoken quite a bit about being over the cameras. Why even do this Hulu show?
I’ve seen a lot of commentary about the Hulu trailer like, “Kourtney looks miserable already.” The day we filmed that teaser, I was super sick. I was so sick for two days, like I should not have been out of bed. I’m not a good faker, so my face just looks like I’m sick.
People are like, “I thought you never wanted to film again,” but you know, I think having a year off and really being able to just — I know I say this all the time — but live our lives. I feel like our last show became a really toxic place for me. I wasn’t in my best place, not only just from filming, but on a lot of levels. So, I was really excited at the chance to do something new and fresh. I think that’s why it was important to me to have it be more documentary style. We were all excited to start a new relationship.
I’m protecting my energy, and I think I’m really sensitive to anything that could feel negative or toxic. I don’t like to welcome that into my life. Everything that I’ve been filming has felt really fun and enjoyable. For the first time in years, I’m enjoying what I’m doing work-wise. I really think there’s something to be said with the place you’re at in your life and being happy — it does go across other areas of your life. Because I’m in a happy place, it makes me more confident in everything that I’m doing. I’m able to make really good decisions, I feel good about in my work and I feel really connected with my kids.
What is different with the new show’s production schedule that you feel you have more time now?
We definitely film more individually, so I feel like I’m filming less. The way we’re shooting this new show, we have time to breathe and we have more space. I think that’s part of my happiness — I can pick up my kids from school on many days, and there’s time for everything now. Before, I felt like I was so spread that it was hard for me. Being a mom is so important to me, and when I can be present and connected and there with my kids as much as I can, I just feel at my best.
Why are you filming more individually on the Hulu show? What is the creative concept behind that change?
Realistically, we do have our own homes and our own lives and I love that we get to us that side of us. And then, we do all come together because we’re a super close family, so you get to see both.
You just spoke about how much you love being a mom. As your kids are getting older, how do they feel about being on-camera?
Since forever, I always have left it up to them, and I always will. I had seasons where they weren’t on at all because I didn’t know how they felt about it. My biggest job is to protect them and guide them. Because we’re filming in our homes, I want them to feel like they can freely be in their homes without being like, “Wait, we’re filming in this room, so you can’t come in here.” If we’re having family dinners and we’re filming that, I let them know and then they can choose if they ever want to come or not come. I’m honestly completely supportive either way. I’ll never ever force them.
When “KUWTK” started, Kendall and Kylie were around the same age as your kids now, which is crazy when you think about how long your family has been on television. But I’m wondering, do you think you could have handled the spotlight at such a young age, like they did?
I’m grateful that it happened later because I had the opportunity to live a life without being under a microscope. I was able to go away to college. We started the show when I was 27, so obviously I’ve had so many more experiences before the show. Yeah, I think I’m grateful personally for the way that it’s happened to me.
Although Kendall and Kylie are younger, what have you learned from them?
All of my sisters inspire me, and I learn so much from all of them and from my mom. I do think it’s interesting the work ethic that we all have. We each have our passions and go about building something that we love to do. I love seeing what all of my sisters are doing, and I love having conversations with them about it. I said to Kim the other day that I would really be interested in the SKIMS creative process and I said the same to Khloé about Good American, and they both said they were filming all of that and I said, “Oh good.”
It sounds like the Hulu show will focus on all of you as businesswomen.
I’ve been filming Poosh meetings and Poosh content days at my house. I want to maybe start a Poosh office eventually, so I get so inspired by my sister’s office space and the way that they do their work. Kylie and Kim’s offices are across the street from each other, so I’ll stop by both of their offices and pick the brain of anyone who’s there and be like, “How does this happen?” It’s so fast and there’s so much to learn.
Do you want to blow up your Poosh business, like your sisters have blown up their businesses? Or are you good?
I am good. But I love growth, and it’s almost like a game to me — how can we make this better? I’m into just growing. And I like a challenge. I’m super involved on all levels. This year for me with Poosh has been all about getting our team to the right place, and scaling and growing the business and taking it to another level. We have a lot of exciting new things that we’re going to be doing with Poosh.
Do you prefer the days when you’re not in hair-and-makeup and filming?
I love it. When I’m at school and I see other moms and they have some makeup on and have a cute outfit on, those are the days when I am not and I’m in workout clothes or sweats and no hair-and-makeup and I just love it. It feels really good to just be that and not have to get all dressed up.
What is it like to pick up the kids from school? Is Kourtney Kardashian able to be a normal mom, or are paparazzi around?
I feel like I can go about my day. The paparazzi are super respectful about school stuff. It is private property, so it’s completely illegal. I will pull them to the side and have a conversation and be like, “This is private property. This is my boundary.” I’m really stern when it comes to my kids.
It sounds like you’ve actually found a way to have some sense of normalcy in your life.
I think the paparazzi have been much more respectful, in general. The bigger thing for me lately is that actual people will take photos. The other night I was out with my son and Travis — we took them out to dinner and the guy at the table next to us was taking such close-up photos, but like not trying to hide it. We just had to leave because it was just uncomfortable. I’m trying to take the kids out for a nice dinner and then they sold the photos and they were online. And it wasn’t a person saying, “Hey, can I take a photo with you?” It was just taking photos to sell them. That’s been happening more recently, and that feels more invasive to me.
Speaking of Travis, is he the center of your storyline on the new series?
No, I definitely hold my relationship really close. It’s so sacred to me and I am very protective of it. I think I’ve learned a lot of lessons. There is a lot of us on there, and we’ve had such a good time doing it because we have such a good time when we’re together, but I definitely want to protect it as much as I can. But also, this is my life.
Did Travis have any reservations about being on-camera?
No, I think as long as we’re happy with it. He obviously has a full-time job and a full career, so it’s not his thing, but I think he’s happy to, and we have had so much fun while we’ve been filming certain things that we’re doing, so I’ll just invite the producers to come along.
One of the infamous moments of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” was when you gave birth on-camera. Are you happy you did that?
Yeah, I am. We shot that ourselves, so it was our footage from a handheld camera. I didn’t have a microphone on, I didn’t have a lighting guy or a camera operator. It was all shot by Khloé and Scott.
Kylie was pregnant when you were filming this show. Did you ever have a conversation with her about filming her birth?
No. I know what it’s like to feel a certain way about what you want to share and what you don’t want to share. I would never want to push any of my sisters to do something that they didn’t feel was right for them. Everyone just has their own boundaries and what they feel comfortable with.
It was a big deal when that episode aired. Do people still talk to you about that scene when you gave birth on the show?
People have said to me multiple times, “I watched your episode of giving birth.” One person told me they watched it in their birthing class and it was an example of a positive birth. I remember always seeing scenes of women giving birth and feeling terrified, so when I had my birth experience and it was so incredible and amazing, I just remember wanting to share that to help other women maybe not feel terrified or have that perspective. I’m sure there are so many experiences of women giving birth, but to me, mine was so just incredible that I felt like I want to give people this.
Aside from resonating positively with that episode, what other sort of impact do you think you and your family has had on women?
I honestly don’t know. But I would hope that it’s like you can be anything that you really put your mind to or be whatever you want to be. Doing the work and having the journey and knowing what you deserve and making that a reality, whether it’s finding a fairytale love story or creating a crazy successful business. It doesn’t have to be just about work — I know that we are all successful and have our businesses, and I think that has had an impact on women creating businesses, but I think it can be simpler than that. It can be doing the work to get yourself out of a toxic relationship or being unhappy or maybe fixing relationship patterns and finding what you’ve always dreamed of.
I’ll look back at journals of notes that I’ve written for things that I’ve wanted. I didn’t even know I did this, but I was just like looking through an old journal and I’d just write down things that really were important to me or things I wanted when I would be feeling down. When I look back, I’m like, “This is everything I have right now.”
I’m even really proud of me and all my sisters in the way that we are as mothers. I do think it’s hard to be a working mom and to balance that, but I hope that we have had a deeper impact in just showing that you can do or have what you want if you really work at it. I hope that’s the message. I don’t know what other people think the message is, though.
Five years from now, do you see yourself living a life in front of the cameras, or do you think there’s a time when you step away from it all?
In five years? I see myself living in another city. And I see myself still working because I love to work. I don’t think I see myself filming on a show in five years. I would probably envision myself, like, just living.
So, is Hulu your final chapter in reality TV? Is this it for Kourtney Kardashian in front of the cameras?
I think so. Who knows because honestly things change all the time, but I think after this journey with Hulu – and who knows because we’ll see where it takes us – but I think I see myself living my best life somewhere else. I still want to work and raise my kids, and I don’t know, maybe there is a filming element to that, but I don’t know, I guess probably not.
Well then, I’ll talk to you in five years.
And I’ll be like, “We’re starting a new show.”