Caitlyn Jenner on House of Kardashian, the family declining and future relevance
Caitlyn Jenner speaks exclusively to RadioTimes.com ahead of Sky's House of Kardashian, sharing her reasons for taking part, and thoughts on the family's success and growing empire.
This Sunday (8th October), Sky will lift the lid on arguably the world's most famous family in its brand new three-part docuseries, House of Kardashian.
Featuring some of the family's friends, former employees and relatives, including none other than Caitlyn Jenner - who was famously married to Kris Jenner for almost 25 years - the documentary will dive into "the dynasty that is the Kardashian family, exploring their rise, reach and the cost that comes with having Kardashian-level fame".
Unfortunately, members of the Kardashian family who we've come to love over the years, Kris, Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe, declined to appear in the documentary themselves.
So, naturally, we were intrigued to find out why Caitlyn, 73, decided to take part.
"Yeah, that was Kris's decision [not to take part] with that side of the family. She doesn't run my life, so I can do what I want to do. And so I just felt a need to make sure that that story is told properly," she tells us as we meet over Teams for a chat ahead of the documentary launch.
Caitlyn is dressed fashionably with soft glam to complete her look, but despite the cameras and lighting, she's as relaxed as ever, as she chills at London's Rosewood Hotel.
She continues: "The reason I got involved is because none of the other family members got involved directly with this project. But to be honest with you, I love my kids. I want them to be represented properly. You couldn't find a parent that is more proud of their children and their accomplishments and what they've been able to do with their lives.
"And I wanted to make sure that they did it right. Every one of them – not only just the ones that you see on TV or this show, but all my children and every one is so successful. And I am a very proud parent. I want people to know that. I want to make sure that they get the right message here. Sometimes the media can be pretty tough."
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So did Caitlyn seek her family's approval before the documentary?
"No, actually, I didn't. I really haven't had any communication with Kris in years and years. I'm my own boss. I do what I want to do. And so I just decided to do the story and hopefully I've represented the family in a very positive manner," she explains.
"I talk to my kids all the time. And we haven't had any issues with this. I just want to make sure the story is told properly!"
That said, Caitlyn was very "careful" what she spoke about, adding: "There's nothing I said, 'Oh, I won't talk about [that]' but I am very careful with what I talk about. I've been doing this media business for a very long period of time and I try to keep my family in a positive light. I love all of them. All 10 of them. And I think I can handle it no matter what the media throws at me."
Over the past years we've seen the family come under scrutiny, dating as far back to 1995 – when Rob Kardashian Sr. represented his friend and American football player, OJ Simpson, at his 1995 murder trial, in which he was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman – to Kim Kardashian's 2007 sex tape with her then-boyfriend, rapper Ray-J, and more recently Kim's divorce from her husband and father of her four children, rapper Kanye West.
As well as this, in 2015, Caitlyn Jenner legally changed her gender after coming out as a trans woman during an ABC News interview with Diane Sawyer.
"I'm kind of used to it because I've been in the public eye for a long time – for the last, we're talking 50 years, I've been in the public eye and I know how the media works," Caitlyn explains.
"And I know how good the media can be and I know how cruel the media can be and so does my family. They've been doing this for a long time. They're very experienced at what they do. For me personally, I hate when I get misrepresented and that just bothers me, but I move on.
"I know it's a storyline that somebody wanted to put out there and I kind of leave it alone. If you get into an argument with that person, it only continues the problem. The attention span sometimes of the general public is very short and we move on to the next crisis after this one."
In 2007, the family got their big break with the release of their E! reality TV series, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It would eventually catapult them into celebrity royalty and the multi-million dollar business moguls we know today – something Caitlyn tells us she never imagined.
"Did I ever see it coming? Not at the magnitude it was. I always knew some family members just had it, particularly Kimberly. Kimberly right from the beginning was very business savvy," she says.
Since then, the family has launched numerous spin-off shows, including Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, I Am Cait, Kocktails with Khloe, and Rob & Chyna, as well as many lucrative business models, notably Kylie's Cosmetics, which saw the Jenner sister, now 26, become the youngest billionaire at 21 years old, according to Forbes. The family has Kris to thank for their success, with the 67-year-old momager at the helm of the family empire.
Caitlyn continues: "Kris was a Beverly Hills housewife when I met her and little did I know inside all of that there was a very sharp and crude businesswoman.
"We started at the beginning with the speaking business and started building it and then we got into the infomercial world and then eventually the show Keeping Up came and we were able to sell that and, I mean, she has continued over the last 20-something years building the Kardashian brand, and she's done a wonderful job."
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There's no doubt the Kardashian klan and now the extended Kar-Jenner family, including Kylie and Kendall, has dominated the celebrity world and social media in particular over the last decade. However, with the rise of more conscious influencers, it has been argued whether the sisters, who are known mostly for their wealth and luxurious lifestyles, could become unrelatable.
"Honestly, I don't worry about that side of the family becoming irrelevant. I mean, they have been relevant for the last 20 years," Caitlyn says.
"You think of Hollywood - actresses come and go and they're hot, and they've got a big movie and then they're gone. The family has been relevant for so many years. And they continue to be today. Look, hey, we're sitting here 20 years later, and we're talking about all this stuff!
"There's a lot of storylines in the family and they've done a very good job. I don't think they worry about being irrelevant. I certainly don't worry about it because I don't feed off that. I enjoy my private times. I enjoy my public times. And I move on to the next project."
After 20 seasons, Keeping Up with the Kardashians was cancelled in 2021. However, it was not long before the family returned to our screens with their brand new Hulu and Disney Plus series, The Kardashians, in 2022.
The family are now on their fourth run of the new show, but Caitlyn is yet to make an appearance despite previously taking part in the E! show.
"I've never been asked to be on the show and I certainly don't expect to be asked to be on the show. So yeah, I I've kind of moved on in my life from that perspective," she explains.
In terms of what she hopes the Sky documentary will add to the already well-publicised story of the Kardashian family, she says: "I think there's always a lot to know. Although I've only really seen the first episode, which is kind of the building of where we started and how we became involved in the show, I'm kind of dying to see the rest of it. Television sometimes can be like you've got to be spectacular, you've got to have controversy. I think this this company will represent all the kids properly."
House of Kardashian airs on Sky Documentaries and NOW this Sunday, 8th October.
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