Denise Richards Talks 'Secret Life of Cheerleaders,' 'Bold & the Beautiful' & 'RHOBH'

Scott Fishman
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Believe it or not, Denise Richards is a mother of three, two of whom are teenage girls. The actress’ parental instincts certainly kicked in for her role in the Lifetime movie The Secret Life of Cheerleaders. Hybrid's latest guilty pleasure sees the star as working single mom Candice to Savannah May’s Ava. 

The daughter is the new girl in high school looking to make friends and put her dance background to good use on the popular cheerleading team. Ava quickly finds out popularity may come at a price. Richards recalls back to simpler times when she wielded pompoms during junior high and freshman year. 

“ I think over the years in my career I think I’ve either played a cheerleader or been somewhere in that world,” Richards, whose early credits included spots on Saved By the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210. “ I think this story definitely resonated with a lot because I have daughters who are teenagers. I think there is a lot of pressure on girls, and boys too, to fit in.”

The movie explores what students might go through maneuvering through school in the social media age. Richards, who is no stranger to the likes of Instagram and Twitter, is glad these platforms weren’t around for her growing up.

“It is hard to control social media use because no matter how much you try to control these kids, they are smart,” she said. “I try to limit it, but even certain things where you have to be a certain age, there is still access to see things that aren’t appropriate in my opinion. 

“There is a lot about body image and kids feeling they have to look a certain way and see pictures of someone not realizing there could be a lot of hair and makeup, filters and editing. I think that was a lot of pressure. When I was a teenager, I was looking at girls on the cover of magazines It’s just very different now. It’s hard for these kids...I think this story has such a great, positive message where you can make bad choices, take a turn and do something positive, and that’s okay.”

Richards is a mother of a different kind on The Bold and the Beautiful as Shauna Fulton. She was excited to return to set, challenged by the demand of filming a soap opera.

“The character is fun and naughty, which is fun to play,” Richards said. “I’ve been playing all different types. I really love it. Initially, I wasn’t sure because of the pace of it.

"When we do these two episodes a day, it’s a lot of dialogue. You have to be on your A-game, but it’s a well-oiled machine. I adore [executive producer] Bradley Bell. He runs a wonderful set. That was something that was very appealing to me working on the show. I actually like the fast pace of it because it keeps your momentum up and the energy up. It’s easier to stay in character.”

Fans of the “Wild Things” star got a glimpse into her life outside of movie and television sets, joining the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. This dive into reality TV came more than a decade after Denise Richards: It’s Complicated first aired. 

“Before my kids were much younger. I was going through a divorce. I had just lost my mom. Here 10 years later I’m remarried. I have three kids now,” Richards said. “ A lot of this is all the women integrating with each other, which is very different. This is a slice of our life, which I think provides a wonderful balance on the show.”

Even though she remains coy on reports of returning for Season 10, the cast member did like the initial experience. 

“I went into it just wanting to be myself. I didn’t have an agenda. I didn’t want to be someone I’m not. I didn’t think of it as a job,” she said of filming. “It was moments with these wonderful women, and my personal life too. I had a good time. Lisa Rinna is a very good friend of mine. She enjoyed the show over the years, so I thought why not. Let’s do something different, so let’s have fun with it.”

The multitasker describes juggling work and home life as organized chaos. After spending so long in the industry, she came to the realization long ago nothing will ever be balanced. One has to surrender to that ideal. In Richards’ eyes, you just make it work. She hopes to set up some family time for a viewing of The Secret Life of Cheerleaders.

“My kids don’t want to see much of my stuff, but this they do,” Richards added. 

The Secret Life of Cheerleaders, September 2, 8/7c, Lifetime