Who Is Kim Kardashian West?
Kim Kardashian West catapulted into fame when a scandalous video showcasing her sexual exploits with former boyfriend, rapper Ray J., was leaked online. Since then she has been able to capitalize on her fame with her curvaceous style, a hit reality TV show, and a string of workout DVDs. In 2006, she opened the boutique D-A-S-H with her sisters, Kourtney and Khloé. In 2014 she famously married rapper Kanye West.
Born on October 21, 1980, in Beverly Hills, California, Kimberly Noel Kardashian West is the second of four children born to the late Robert Kardashian and his first wife, Kris Jenner.
Kardashian West, it seems, is almost wired for fame. A preschool classmate of Paris Hilton, she grew up under the glare and privilege of Beverly Hills, getting an up-close view of Hollywood's pleasures and pitfalls. Her father, the founder of Movie Tunes, Inc., a music and marketing company, was a prominent attorney. A close friend for many years of O.J. Simpson, Robert was one of the football star's defense lawyers during his murder trial. In fact, it was the attorney's home that Simpson left during the famous Ford Bronco police chase shortly before his arrest. Robert died from cancer of the esophagus in October 2003.
Kardashian West's mother, Kris, manages her daughter's career and is also involved in business management deals with the rest of her other famous children. She and Robert divorced in 1989.
According to Kardashian West, her childhood was hardly the stuff of stardom. Sunday church was a regular part of family life. So was the expectation among the Kardashian children that, once they each reached the age of 18, living off the family dime was no longer an option. While attending an exclusive Catholic girls' high school, Kardashian West worked for her father's company. When he died, the corporation was left to her and her siblings. They've since sold it. "We grew up with privilege so we knew our standards were high ... [and] if we wanted to keep it, we had to work hard," she once said.
Infamous Sex Video
Despite her business endeavors, it was her infamous sex video she made with R&B singer Ray J. that catapulted her to superstardom. In early 2007, a video of Kardashian West and the rapper in bed made it into the hands of Vivid Entertainment, a large adult film company. Vivid, which paid $1 million for rights to the 30-minute tape, widely promoted the release of the video, which it called Kim Kardashian Superstar. Kardashian quickly countered with legal action, suing for invasion of privacy. But in May 2007, three months after the video's debut, she agreed to a $5 million settlement.
"It definitely puts you in a category that I would wish upon no one," Kardashian West later said on The Tyra Banks Show. "Your reputation is all that you have, and if people prejudge you over something that you did, than that kind of sticks with you a long time."
Reality TV Star: 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians'
Around the time of the video's release, Kardashian West started making her way onto the television screen for something completely different, when the E! Network debuted a new reality TV series called Keeping up with the Kardashians.
Produced by Ryan Seacrest, the show follows the lives of Kim; her sisters, Kourtney and Khloé; brother Robert Jr.; mother Kris; former stepfather Bruce Jenner (now referred to as Caitlyn); and the two young daughters of Kris and Bruce, Kendall and Kylie. In one memorable episode from the first season, Kardashian West discusses with her family an offer from Playboy to appear nude in the magazine. Kardashian West eventually agreed to do it and bared it all for the publication in the December 2007 issue.
Her decision to appear in the magazine represents just how far Kardashian West has come in terms of confidence about her own body. A big part of her brand is her curves, something she wasn't always so enamored with, she admits. "I used to say my prayers before bed, and pray I would stop developing," she told Playboy. That's apparently changed. "You always see the typical skinny models and I'm not that and I'm proud not to be that," she stated following the shoot.
Since then, Kardashian West's celebrity status has only grown. The woman who became the most Googled celebrity in 2008, ending Britney Spears' four-year-run. With millions of followers on social media, she receives between $10,000 to $20,000 per post when promoting products for various brands.
As a reality television star, Kardashian West's love life has been the subject of intense media interest. She was only 20 years old when she wed music producer Damon Thomas in 2000. The marriage ended after four years. Following her divorce, Kardashian had a string of high profile boyfriends, including singer Nick Lachey and New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush.
In 2010, Kardashian West had a whirlwind courtship with pro basketball player Kris Humphries. The pair married in a lavish, televised ceremony the following August in front of more than 400 guests. But wedded bliss would be short-lived for Kardashian West and Humphries. Kardashian filed for divorce after only 72 days of marriage. Humphries sought an annulment instead and claimed that the marriage was a fraud. In April 2013, it was announced that she and Humphries had settled their divorce, avoiding a long-awaited trial that had been scheduled to take place in May 2013.
Marriage to Kanye West
While her divorce proceedings were dragging on, however, in early 2012, Kardashian West became involved with famed rapper Kanye West. In December 2012, the couple revealed that they were expecting their first child together. Kardashian West posted on her blog, "It's true!! Kanye and I are expecting a baby. We feel so blessed and lucky." She and West welcomed a daughter on June 15, 2013, in Los Angeles, California. A few days after the child's birth, it was revealed that the couple had decided to name their daughter North.
On October 21, 2013, the pair got engaged on her 33rd birthday. West proposed to her at the AT&T baseball stadium in San Francisco, which he rented out for the occasion. The couple tied the knot the following May. They held their rehearsal dinner at a famed French landmark Versailles. The ceremony itself was held on May 24, 2014, in Forte di Belvedere, a historic fortress, in Florence, Italy. Her former stepfather, Bruce, walked her down the aisle as famed vocalist Andrea Bocelli sang "Con te Partiro."
In the 10th season of her reality series, Kardashian West documented her desire to get pregnant again and her struggles with fertility issues. In May 2015, she revealed in a teaser for her show that she was pregnant with her and West's second child. The couple welcomed their son Saint on December 5, 2015.
Victim of Armed Robbery
The following year Kardashian West experienced various personal setbacks that would cause her to step out of the spotlight. While in France attending Paris Fashion Week, the reality star was the victim of an armed robbery. On October 3, 2016, at 2:19 a.m., a group of robbers broke into the Hotel de Pourtales, a luxury apartment building where Kardashian West was staying and forced the night receptionist to open the door to her penthouse, according to an article in Vanity Fair. Kardashian West’s wrists and ankles were bound and her mouth was taped shut while the thieves stole a 20-carat diamond ring and a jewelry box worth an estimated $5.6 million.
Kardashian West was not physically harmed but was reportedly traumatized by the crime, which was being investigated by Paris’ crime unit La Brigade de Répression du Banditisme. Following the crime, the very public star stopped posting on social media and avoided public appearances, opting to take time off to recover.
New Home and Growing Family
In 2017, it was announced that the power couple had sold their Bel-Air mansion for a whopping $17.8 million, nearly $8 million more than the price they had paid in 2013. The sale came after years of renovations on a new estate in Hidden Hills, California.
Around that same time, Kardashian West celebrated the pending arrival of child No. 3 by throwing a lavish cherry-blossom themed baby shower. She also revealed to the public that the newcomer was a girl, as well as the emotional difficulties of having to turn to a surrogate due to health issues. “You know, it is really different,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “Anyone that says or thinks it is just the easy way out is just completely wrong. I think it is so much harder to go through it this way, because you are not really in control. … Knowing that I was able to carry my first two babies and not my baby now, it’s hard for me."
A few days later, shortly after midnight on January 15, 2018, the West's second daughter and third child overall was born to their surrogate. On a post to her website — titled "She's Here!" — Kardashian West wrote, "We are incredibly grateful to our surrogate who made our dreams come true with the greatest gift one could give and to our wonderful doctors and nurses for their special care." Soon afterward, it was revealed that they had named the girl Chicago.
The couple welcomed their fourth child, son Psalm, via surrogate in May 2019.
Prison Reform and Law Apprenticeship
In May 2018, Kardashian West showed a newfound interest in social justice when she lobbied President Donald Trump to consider clemency for a Tennessee woman named Alice Johnson, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 on charges related to cocaine possession and money laundering. The reality star had learned about Johnson's case from a video posted to Twitter.
Expecting to meet with White House officials, Kardashian West also earned the company of POTUS himself to discuss Johnson and the issue of prison reform. Trump later tweeted a photo of the two of them in the Oval Office after their "great meeting." The lobbying efforts ultimately paid off, with Kardashian West being the one to share the good news with Johnson after the president granted her release on June 6.
Inspired by the result, Kardashian West embarked on a four-year apprenticeship with a San Francisco law firm, with the goal of taking the California bar exam in 2022. Meanwhile, she continued working behind the scenes to help people facing life behind bars; in May 2019, it was reported that she had helped commute the sentences of 17 first-time nonviolent drug offenders by funding a legal program devoted to the issue.
Her increasing interest in criminal justice and work on specific cases became the subject of the two-hour documentary Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project, scheduled to debut on Oxygen on April 5, 2020.
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