Wright at the premiere of Promises, Promises (c.2010)
|Birth name||Richell Renee Wright|
|Born||(1970-10-25) October 25, 1970
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|Genres||Country, Folk, Americana|
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, author, producer, activist|
|Labels||Polydor, A&M, MCA Nashville, Painted Red, Vanguard|
|Associated acts||Rascal Flatts, Diamond Rio, Brad Paisley, Richard Marx, Rodney Crowell|
Richell Rene Wright (/ˈʃɛli ˈraɪt/; born October 25, 1970) is an American country music singer and activist. On the strength of her debut album in 1994, the Academy of Country Music (ACM) named her Top New Female Vocalist in 1995. Wright’s first Top 40 country hit came in 1997 with “Shut Up and Drive“. Two years later, her fourth album yielded a number one single, the title track, “Single White Female“. Overall, Wright has released seven studio albums on various labels, and has charted more than fifteen singles on the country charts. As of May 2010, Wright’s previous eight albums and 19 singles released had sold over 1,500,000 copies in the United States. In May 2010, Wright became one of the first major country music performers to publicly come out as lesbian. In television appearances and an autobiography, she cited among her reasons for publicizing her homosexuality a concern with bullying and hate crimes toward gays, particularly gay teenagers, and the damage to her life caused by “lying and hiding”.
She has written songs that have been recorded by Brad Paisley, Richard Marx, Indigo Girls, Mindy Smith and Clay Walker, among them Walker’s top ten hit, “I Can’t Sleep” that won her a BMI award. On May 4, 2010, Wright simultaneously released her memoir, Like Me, and her first album of new songs since 2005, Lifted Off the Ground.
Wright’s eighth album, I Am the Rain, was released on September 9, 2016, by MRI/Sony and was produced by Joe Henry. It entered the Billboard country chart at 13, the second highest debut of her career. It was also her first appearance on the Americana album chart, where it reached number 9.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Wright grew up in a musical family in Wellsville, Kansas, a town with a population of less than 2,000. According to her autobiography, Like Me, she wanted to be a country music performer since the age of four, and realized at age eight that she was gay.
A Christian, Wright harbored the belief that her sexual orientation was immoral, that her secret would kill her career hopes. From early childhood, she resolved to never confide her orientation to anyone or to pursue romantic relationships with women.
The summer before her senior year of high school, she worked as a performing musician at the Ozark Jubilee, a long-running country music show in Branson, Missouri. In 1989, immediately after high school, she landed a position in a musical production at Opryland USA, a now-defunct theme park in Nashville, Tennessee. She lived permanently in Nashville until 2008. In 1993, Harold Shedd signed her to Mercury/Polygram, and her first album was released in 1994 on the Polydor label.
As a commercial artist
After releasing two unsuccessful albums through Mercury/Polygram, Wright asked to be released from her contract and signed with MCA Nashville. There, she had her first top twenty country hit in 1997 with the song “Shut Up and Drive,” off her third album, Let Me In. In 1999, her fourth album, Single White Female, produced several hit songs and her first gold album certification. In 2000, while touring with singer Brad Paisley, Wright and Paisley cowrote the duet “Hard to Be a Husband, Hard to Be a Wife”, which they performed in their joint shows and at the Grand Ole Opry‘s 75th anniversary, televised by CBS. The Opry performance was later nominated for Vocal Event of the Year at the 35th Annual CMA Awards. Wright also joined Diamond Rio for a song on their One More Day album, as well as Paisley’s Part II album, both released in 2001.
Wright’s fifth studio album, Never Love You Enough, was originally scheduled to be released on September 11, 2001 but due to the World Trade Center attack, the release date was postponed to September 25. Never Love You Enough debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. In these peak years of her popularity, Wright was named to People Magazine’s annual “50 Most Beautiful People” list in 2001 and ranked No. 93 among FHM’s “100 Sexiest Women of 2002”. and later that year was ranked No. 18 of “The 20 Hottest Women in Music 2002”
As an independent artist
In 2003, Wright parted ways with MCA Nashville after “Never Love You Enough” failed to meet sales expectations. In January 2004, she signed with a new independent label, Vivaton, and began preparation for a new album. Although a music video was released for a song entitled “The Back of the Bottom Drawer,” the album never materialized. Wright split with Vivaton in June 2004. She wrote and released a single, “The Bumper of My SUV” in late 2004, mostly through the Internet and various radio stations, in response to an altercation with an irate woman who noticed the United States Marine Corps bumper sticker on the back of Wright’s car.
The success of “The Bumper of My SUV”, released on Wright’s own Painted Red Music Group, was followed by the release of an EP, Everything. The record was made exclusively available through Wright’s website, but its success led to a deal with Dualtone Records.
Wright’s sixth album, The Metropolitan Hotel, was released in February 2005 on Dualtone. The album debuted at No. 18 on Billboard’s Top Country chart and reached No. 7 on the Top Independent Albums chart. Wright signed to Vanguard Records in 2008. She released her seventh studio album, Lifted Off the Ground, on May 4, 2010, produced by Grammy Award winner Rodney Crowell. In October 2014 Wright’s Kickstarter campaign to fund her eighth studio album became the sixth most successful Kickstarter music campaign and the number one campaign in country music. It raised $250,000, which will allow Wright to record and promote the album and to produce a music video to be released in 2015.
In July 2016, Wright announced the release of her eighth studio album, I Am the Rain. The album, which has roots in Americana, was produced by Joe Henry. It features collaborations with Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and The Milk Carton Kids and the album has drawn comparisons to Carole King‘s Tapestry. The album was released on September 9, 2016 through the Painted Red Music Group and RED Distribution. A U.S. tour is planned for 2017.
—Wright commenting on career after coming out
Despite her resolution against having sex with women, Wright disclosed in her memoir that, by her early thirties, she had had sexual relationships with two women. She had her first same-sex experience at age 19 — “it was the first time I’d ever had a girl’s body pressed against mine”—and the affair lasted the better part of a year. From 1993 to about 2004, Wright maintained a committed relationship with a woman she described as “the love of my life”, a woman she met shortly after winning her first recording contract. The era of their relationship overlaps Wright’s rise to chart-topping stardom. They maintained their relationship even though her partner subsequently married a man, and even while both women briefly had heterosexual relationships. During their final five years they lived together, the relationship suffered numerous breakups and reconciliations due to the strain of being closeted, the fact that “neither one of us thought it was acceptable to be in a gay relationship”, and Wright’s prolonged absences while performing on tour nationally and internationally.
In the last months of 2000, Wright began a relationship with country singer Brad Paisley. Even though Wright and her female lover had moved in together earlier that year, and Wright admitted she felt no sexual attraction to Paisley, she recounted that “he’s wickedly smart, which is one of the reasons why I made the decision to spend time with him. I loved Brad. I never had the capacity to fall in love with him, but I figured if I’m gonna live a less than satisfied life, this is the guy I could live my life with. If I’m gonna be with a boy, this is the boy.” She held him in high esteem and great affection in every way other than sexual attraction. In her autobiography she expressed remorse for how she treated him, and told Oprah Winfrey that “I have a lot of regret for how that [relationship] began and had a middle and ended. I had no business being in a relationship with him”.
Wright eventually abandoned the belief that being lesbian is immoral and deviant:
I hear the word “tolerance”—that some people are trying to teach people to be tolerant of gays. I’m not satisfied with that word. I am gay, and I am not seeking to be “tolerated”. One tolerates a toothache, rush-hour traffic, an annoying neighbor with a cluttered yard. I am not a negative to be tolerated.
Between 2004 and 2006, Wright came out to members of her immediate family and to a few of her close friends. It was not until 2007 that she decided to come out publicly, but spent the next three years writing her autobiography. She stated that she wanted to come out to free herself from the burdens of living a lie, to lend support to gay children and teenagers, and to counter the belief that gays are wicked and defective. On May 3, 2010, People Magazine reported her coming out. Wright became one of the first  members of the country music community to come out as gay; country artist k.d. lang came out in 1992 (though she later abandoned the country music genre), and Kristen Hall, formerly of Sugarland, was openly gay while working with that band.
On April 6, 2011, Wright announced her engagement to LGBT rights advocate Lauren Blitzer. The couple married on August 20, 2011, in a private ceremony on a country estate in Connecticut officiated by both a rabbi and a reverend. On January 23, 2013, the couple announced that Chely was expecting identical twins. Wright gave birth to George Samuel and Everett Joseph on May 18, 2013.
A documentary film about Wright’s extended coming out, entitled Wish Me Away, was released in 2011. The film shares its title with one of the tracks on her 2010 album, Lifted Off the Ground. The film premiered at the 35th annual Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco on June 22, 2011. It was filmed over three years.
Wright is the founder of the charity Reading, Writing and Rhythm (RW&R), which is devoted to musical education in America’s schools and helps supply musical instruments and equipment. It holds a fundraiser each June in Nashville, just before CMA Music Festival. In 2002 Wright received the MENC’s “FAME Award” in honor of the accomplishments of RW&R.
In 2001, Wright was given the “Stand Up For Music Award” MENC: The National Association for Music Education.
In 2003, she was named “Woman of the Year” by the American Legion Auxiliary and “Kansan of the Year” for her career achievements, her charity work and her support of the U.S. armed forces.
In 2010, Wright was named the National Spokesperson for the organization GLSEN. Wright was named one of Out magazine’s annual 100 People of the Year. Metro Source New York Magazine named her as one of the 20 people We Love in 2010.
- Studio albums
- 1994: Woman in the Moon
- 1996: Right in the Middle of It
- 1997: Let Me In
- 1999: Single White Female
- 2001: Never Love You Enough
- 2005: The Metropolitan Hotel
- 2010: Lifted Off the Ground
- 2016: I Am the Rain
- Compilation albums
- 2003: 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Chely Wright
- 2007: The Definitive Collection
- 2008: The Ultimate Collection
- Extended plays
- 2004: Everything (EP)
- 2005: Live EP (Digital EP)
- 2011: Damn Liar – The Dance Remix (EP)
|1995||Academy of Country Music||Top New Female Vocalist||Won|
|1996||TNN/Music City News Awards||Star of Tomorrow||Nominated|
|Jukebox Awards||Best New Artist||Nominated|
|1999||Academy of Country Music||Top Female Vocalist||Nominated|
|Best Music Video — “Single White Female”||Nominated|
|Country Music Television||Female Video of the Year — “Single White Female”||Nominated|
|Country Weekly Awards||Fast Track Artist||Nominated|
|Country Music Association Awards||Horizon Award||Nominated|
|2001||Country Weekly Awards||Vocal Collaboration (with Brad Paisley) — “Hard to Be a Husband, Hard to Be a Wife”||Nominated|
|MENC||Stand Up for Music Award||Won|
|Country Music Association Awards||Vocal Event of the Year (with Brad Paisley) — “Hard to Be a Husband, Hard to Be a Wife”||Nominated|
|2002||CMT Flameworthy Awards||Video Fashion Plate — “Jezebel”||Won|
|People Magazine||50 Most Beautiful People||Won|
|International Bluegrass Music Association||Recorded Event of the Year (with Ralph Stanley and various artists) — Clinch Mountain Sweethearts||Won|
|2003||American Legion Auxiliary||Woman of the Year||Won|
|2005||Country Weekly Awards||Star with Biggest Heart||Nominated|
|Best Patriotic Song — “The Bumper of My SUV”||Nominated|
|2006||Star with Biggest Heart||Nominated|
|2010||Black Tie Dinner||Media Award||Won|
|OUTmusic Awards||Vanguard Award||Won|
|2011||Kansas Music Hall of Fame||Inducted||Won|
|GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Musical Artist||Nominated|
|Lambda Literary Awards||Best Biography-Like Me||Nominated|
|Documentary Channel Audience Award-Nashville Film Festival||Best Documentary-Wish Me Away||Won|
|Los Angeles Film Festival||Best Documentary-Wish Me Away||Won|
|New York LGBT Community Center’s Annual Center Women’s Event||Woman of the Year||Won|
|2012||Seattle LGBT Festival||Audience Award, Favorite Documentary Film||Won|
|San Francisco International LGBT Festival,||Outstanding Documentary Feature||Won|
|Palm Springs International Film Festival||Audience Award, Best Documentary||Won|
|Melbourne Australia LGBT Festival||Audience Award, Best Documentary||Won|
|Seattle LGBT Festival||Audience Award, Favorite Documentary Film||Won|
|Philadelphia Q Fest||Jury Award, Best Documentary||Won|
|Tallgrass Film Festival, Kansas||Golden Strand Award, Best Documentary||Won|
|Pittsburgh LGBT Festival||Best Documentary||Won|
|Fresno Real Pride Film Festival||Audience Award, Best Documentary||Won|
|Atlanta Out on Film Festival||Jury Award, Best Documentary||Won|
|Newfest Film Festival, New York City||CENTERPIECE||Won|
|2013||GLAAD Media Award||Best Doc||Nominated|
|Emmy Awards||Outstanding Informational Programming—Long-Form||Nominated|
|2014||Family Equality Council||Outstanding Work as LGBT Activist||Won|
(1970-09-11) September 11, 1970
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Spouse(s)||John Wright (m. 1995; div. 2016)|
Laura Wright (née Sisk; September 11, 1970) is an American actress. She is perhaps best known for her roles as Ally Rescott on Loving and The City (1991-1997), Cassie Layne Winslow on Guiding Light (1997–2005) and Carly Corinthos on General Hospital (2005–present); the latter garnered her the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2011.
Wright (then credited by her maiden name of Sisk) made her television acting debut on ABC’s daytime soap opera Loving in 1991, playing the character of Allison “Ally” Rescott Bowman. She also starred in The City from 1995 to 1997 as the same character, and then she played the role of Cassie Layne Winslow on CBS soap opera Guiding Light from 1997 to 2005. On September 12, 2005, Wright was cast as the fourth actress to play the character of Carly Corinthos on ABC’s General Hospital. ABC Daytime executive Brian Frons stated in a statement, “Carly is a complex character, and we are excited to bring Laura’s talent, beauty and intelligence to this role. […] Fans can look forward to high drama between Sonny, Carly and Alcazar this fall.” In a statement, Wright, who was still appearing in episodes of Guiding Light when the announcent was made, said:
|“||As sad as I am to leave a wonderful place that I called home for a long time, it is time for me to go,” Wright said. “This was not an easy decision. But my husband and I talked about it and we said, ‘What the Hell! Let’s live on the West Coast for a few years!’||”|
In 2009, Wright announced through her official Twitter page that she had signed a four-year contract with the series, ensuring her stay as Carly until sometime in 2013. At the fan club weekend in July 2013, Wright confirmed she had signed another four-year deal with the series. Should she fulfill the contract, it ensures her stay with the series until 2017, a total of 12 years time. In 2011, after 20 years on soaps, Wright was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for her portrayal of Carly in the Outstanding Lead Actress category. Wright won the award at the 38th Daytime Emmy Awards. Wright was later nominated again in the Lead Actress category for the 39th Daytime Emmy Awards. She lost the award to Heather Tom for her portrayal of Katie Logan Spencer on The Bold and the Beautiful. In 2015, Wright made a cameo appearance in the film, Joy, alongside General Hospital co-stars Maurice Benard and Donna Mills.
Wright married architect John Wright on October 7, 1995. They have two children, Lauren Beth Wright and John Michael Wright. In April 2016, Wright announced that she and John decided to end their marriage.
|1991||Loving||Ally Rescott Bowman||Main role; June 25, 1991 – November 10, 1995|
|1995||The City||Main role; November 13, 1995 – March 28, 1997|
|1997||Guiding Light||Cassie Layne Winslow||Main role; August 1, 1997 – November 3, 2005|
|2013||Hit the Floor||Dance Teacher||Guest role; “Moving Screens”|
Awards and nominations
|1993||Soap Opera Digest Award||Outstanding Younger Lead Actress||Loving||Nominated|
|1994||Soap Opera Digest Award||Hottest Female Star||Loving||Nominated|
|1998||Soap Opera Digest Award||Favorite New Character||Guiding Light||Won|||
|2011||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series||General Hospital||Won|||
|2012||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series||General Hospital||Nominated|||
|2015||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series||General Hospital||Nominated|||
|2017||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series||General Hospital||Nominated|||
Lawson in September 2016
|Born||Nigella Lucy Lawson
(1960-01-06) 6 January 1960
Wandsworth, London, England
|Alma mater||Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford|
|Occupation||Food writer, journalist and broadcaster|
Channel 4, ITV (former)
|Known for||TV presenting, cookery, writing|
|Net worth||$15–25 million|
|Height||5 ft 7 in (170 cm)|
|Relatives||Dominic Lawson and Rosa Monckton (brother and sister-in-law)|
Nigella Lucy Lawson (born 6 January 1960) is an English journalist, broadcaster, television personality, gourmet, and food writer. She is the daughter of Nigel Lawson, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Vanessa (née Salmon) Lawson, whose family owned the J. Lyons and Co. food and catering business.
She attended Godolphin and Latymer School, London. After graduating from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, Lawson started work as a book reviewer and restaurant critic, later becoming the deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times in 1986. She then embarked upon a career as a freelance journalist, writing for a number of newspapers and magazines. In 1998 her first cookery book, How to Eat, was published and sold 300,000 copies, becoming a best-seller. She published her second book in 2000, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, which won her the British Book Award for Author of the Year.
In 1999 she hosted her own cooking show series, Nigella Bites, on Channel 4, accompanied by another best-selling cookbook. Nigella Bites won Lawson a Guild of Food Writers Award; her 2005 ITV daytime chat show Nigella was met with a negative critical reaction and was cancelled after attracting low ratings. She hosted the Food Network‘s Nigella Feasts in the United States in 2006, followed by a three-part BBC Two series, Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen, in the UK, which led to the commissioning of Nigella Express on BBC Two in 2007. Her own cookware range, Living Kitchen, has a value of £7 million, and she has sold more than 3 million cookery books worldwide to date.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 Presenting style and image
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Television credits
- 6 Awards
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life and education
Nigella Lawson was born in Wandsworth, London, one of the daughters of Lord Lawson of Blaby, a future Conservative MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer in Margaret Thatcher‘s government, and his first wife Vanessa Salmon (1936–1985), a celebrated beauty and the heiress to the J. Lyons and Co. fortune. She is Jewish; her parents both come from Jewish families. Her given name was originally suggested by her grandmother. Her family kept homes in Kensington and Chelsea.
Nigel and Vanessa Lawson divorced in 1980, when Nigella was 20. They both remarried: her father that year to a House of Commons researcher, Therese Maclear (to whom he was married until 2008), and her mother, in the early 1980s, to philosopher A. J. Ayer (they remained married until her mother’s death). As her father was at the time a prominent political figure, some of the things Nigella found frustrating were the judgements and pre-conceptions about her. In the mid 1990s, he decided to lose weight for medical reasons, and subsequently wrote the best-selling The Nigel Lawson Diet Book. Nigella has attributed her unhappiness as a child, in part, to the problematic relationship she had with her mother.
Lawson’s mother died of liver cancer in Westminster, London at the age of 48. Lawson’s full-blood siblings are her brother, Dominic, former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, sister Horatia, and sister Thomasina, who died of breast cancer, in her early thirties, in 1993; She has a half-brother, Tom, who is currently headmaster at Eastbourne College, and a half-sister, Emily, her father’s children by his second wife. Lawson is a cousin to both George Monbiot and Fiona Shackleton through the Salmon family.
Taking part in the third series of the BBC family-history documentary series, Who Do You Think You Are?, Lawson sought to uncover some of her family’s ancestry. She traced her ancestors to Ashkenazi Jews who originate from eastern Europe and Germany, leaving Lawson surprised not to have Sephardi ancestry, as she had believed. She also uncovered that her maternal great-great-great grandfather, Coenraad Sammes (later Coleman Joseph), had fled to England from Amsterdam in 1830 to escape a prison sentence following a conviction for theft. His daughter Hannah married Samuel Gluckstein (1821-1873), who was in business with Barnett Salmon of Salmon & Gluckstein. They had several children, including Isidore and Montague Gluckstein, who together with Salmon founded J. Lyons and Co. in 1887, and Helena, who married him. One of the children of Helena and Barnett Salmon was Alfred Salmon (1868-1928), the great-grandfather of Nigella Lawson.
Lawson spent some of her childhood in the Welsh village of Higher Kinnerton. She had to move schools nine times between the ages of 9 and 18, and consequently she described her school years as difficult. “I was just difficult, disruptive, good at school work, but rude, I suspect, and too highly-strung”, Lawson reflected. She was educated at several independent schools, at among other places, Ibstock Place School, Queen’s Gate School and Godolphin and Latymer School. She worked for many department stores in London, and went on to graduate from the University of Oxford with a degree in medieval and modern languages. She lived in Florence, Italy, for a time.
Lawson originally worked in publishing, first taking a job under publisher Naim Attallah. At 23, she began her career in journalism after Charles Moore had invited her to write for The Spectator. Her initial work at the magazine consisted of writing book reviews, after which period she became a restaurant critic there in 1985. She became the deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times in 1986 at the age of 26.
She occasionally drifted into the public’s eye, attracting publicity in 1989 when she admitted voting for Labour in an election as opposed to her father’s Conservative Party, and then criticised Margaret Thatcher in print. Regarding her political relationship with her father, Lawson has stated, “My father would never expect me to agree with him about anything in particular and, to be honest, we never talk about politics much.”
After her stint at The Sunday Times, she embarked upon a freelance writing career, realising that “I was on the wrong ladder. I didn’t want to be an executive, being paid to worry rather than think”. In the United Kingdom, she wrote for The Daily Telegraph, the Evening Standard, The Observer and The Times Literary Supplement, and penned a food column for Vogue and a makeup column for The Times Magazine, as well as working with Gourmet and Bon Appétit in the United States. After two weeks working on Talk Radio in 1995, Lawson was sacked after she had stated her shopping was done for her, which was deemed incompatible with the radio station’s desired “common touch”.
1998–2002: Cook book writing and Nigella Bites
Lawson had an established sense of cooking from her childhood, having had a mother who enjoyed cooking. She conceived the idea of writing a cookbook after she observed a dinner party host in tears because of an unset crème caramel. How to Eat (1998), featuring culinary tips on preparation and saving time, sold 300,000 copies in the UK. The Sunday Telegraph dubbed it “the most valuable culinary guide published this decade.”
Its successor, How to be a Domestic Goddess (2000), focuses primarily on baking. Of this second bestseller, The Times wrote of Lawson’s book, that it “is defined by its intimate, companionable approach. She is not issuing matronly instructions like Delia; she is merely making sisterly suggestions”. Lawson rejected feminist criticism of her book, adding that “[s]ome people did take the domestic goddess title literally rather than ironically. It was about the pleasures of feeling like one rather than actually being one.” The book sold 180,000 copies in four months, and won Lawson the title of Author of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2001, fending off competition from authors such as J. K. Rowling. How to Eat and How to be a Domestic Goddess were published in the U.S. in 2000 and 2001. As a result of the book’s success, The Observer took her on as a social affairs columnist.
Lawson next hosted her own cooking show television series, Nigella Bites, which ran from 1999 to 2001 on Channel 4, followed by a Christmas special in 2001. Victor Lewis-Smith, a critic usually known for his biting comments, praised Lawson for being “formidably charismatic”. The first series of Nigella Bites averaged 1.9 million viewers, and won her the Television Broadcast of the Year at the Guild of Food Writers Awards and the Best Television Food Show at the World Food Media Awards in 2001. The show yielded an accompanying best-selling recipe book, also called Nigella Bites, for which Waterstone’s book stores reported UK sales of over 300,000. The book won a W H Smith Award for Lifestyle Book of the Year.
The Nigella Bites series, which was filmed in her home in west London, was later broadcast on American television channels E! and Style Network. Lawson said of the US release, “In the UK, my viewers have responded to the fact I’m trying to reduce, not add to, their burden and I’m looking forward to making that connection with Style viewers across the US”. Overall, Lawson was well received in the United States. Those who did criticise her often suggested she was too flirtatious; a commentator from The New York Times said, “Lawson’s sexy roundness mixed with her speed-demon technique makes cooking dinner with Nigella look like a prelude to an orgy”. The book of Nigella Bites became the second bestselling cook book of Christmas 2002 in America. The series was followed by Forever Summer with Nigella in 2002 on Channel 4, the concept being, “that you cook to make you still feel as though you’re on holiday”. Fellow food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall condemned the concept as “cynical and reckless” and referred to the book as Fuck Seasonality.
In 2002 Lawson also began to write a fortnightly cooking articles for The New York Times, and brought out a profitable line of kitchenware, called the Living Kitchen range, which is sold by numerous retailers. Her range’s value has continued to grow, starting at an estimated £2 million in 2003.
2003–2006: Nigella Feasts and BBC contract
In November 2003, Lawson oversaw the menu and preparations for a lunch hosted by Tony Blair at Downing Street for George W. Bush and his wife during their state visit to the UK. Laura Bush is said to be a fan of Lawson’s recipes and once included one of her soups as the starter for the 2002 presidential Christmas dinner. Lawson’s fifth book, Feast: Food that Celebrates Life, released in 2004, made sales worth £3 million. London’s Evening Standard wrote that the book “works both as a practical manual and an engrossing read. … Nobody else writes so openly about the emotional significance of food.” Lawson appeared frequently on American television in 2004, conducting cookery slots on talk shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
In the UK in 2005, Lawson started to host a daytime television chat show on ITV1 called Nigella, on which celebrity guests joined her in a studio kitchen. The first episode debuted with a disappointing 800,000 viewers. The show was met with a largely negative critical reaction, and after losing 40% of its viewers in the first week, the show was cancelled. She later commented to Radio Times that on her first show, she was almost too frightened to come out of her dressing room. Lawson added that having to pretend to be interested in the lives of the celebrities on her show became too much of an effort.
Her third food-based television series, called Nigella Feasts, debuted on the USA’s Food Network in Autumn 2006 for a 13-week run. Time magazine wrote a favorable review of the show; “the real appeal of Feasts … is her unfussy, wry, practical approach to entertaining and quality comfort food. … between the luscious camera shots and Lawson’s sensual enjoyment of eating, Feasts will leave you wishing for an invite”.
Lawson was next signed to BBC Two to host a three-part cookery show entitled Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen, which began on 6 December 2006 and aired weekly. The first two episodes secured the second highest ratings of the week for BBC Two, with the first episode debuting with a strong 3.5 million. The final episode went on to become the top show on BBC Two the week that it was aired. Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen won Lawson a second World Food Media Award in 2007. Her influence as a food commentator was also demonstrated in late 2006, when after she had lauded goose fat as being an essential ingredient for Christmas, sales percentages of the product increased significantly in the UK. Waitrose and Tesco both stated that goose fat sales had more than doubled, as well as Asda‘s goose fat sales increasing by 65% from the previous week. Similarly, after she advised using prunes in a recipe on Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen, Waitrose had increased sales of 30% year on year.
2007–2009: Nigella Express and Nigella’s Christmas
Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen led to the commissioning of a 13-part cookery series entitled Nigella Express. She said “I wouldn’t describe them as junk”. The show became another ratings success and one of BBC Two’s top-rated shows each week. The first episode debuted with 2.85 million viewers, a high percentage above the channel’s slot average. The second episode’s viewing figures rose to 3.3 million, and the series peaked at 3.4 million on 22 October 2007.
Her influence with the public was again demonstrated when sales of Riesling wine increased by 30% in the UK after she had incorporated it into her Coq au Riesling recipe on Nigella Express. In December 2007 she appeared on BBC’s The Graham Norton Show and revealed that she had once eaten 30 pickled eggs for a £1,000 bet, saying “How stupid to challenge me! I made them all put their money on the table in front of me. The next day I had scrambled eggs for breakfast.”
Lawson came under criticism when viewers complained that she had gained weight since the debut episode of the series. The Guardian however, noted, “the food matches her appearance – flawless, polished and sexy”. The rights to Nigella Express were sold to Discovery Asia. The series was nominated at the 35th Daytime Emmy Awards in the United States for Outstanding Lifestyle Program, and Lawson herself for the Outstanding Lifestyle Host.
The accompanying book to Nigella Express was released in the UK in September 2007, US in November 2007, and in Australia in 2008. Sharing the same name as the television series, the book became another best-seller in the UK, and was outselling television chef Jamie Oliver by 100,000 copies, according to Waterstone’s. It was reported that over 490,000 copies had been sold by mid-December in the UK. Furthermore, the book was number one for a period on Amazon UK’s bestselling books, and was ninth on their overall list of Christmas bestsellers in any category. Paul Levy of The Guardian wrote that the tone of the recipes was “just right. One of the appealing things about Nigella’s brief introductions to each of them is that she thinks not just as cook, but as eater, and tells you whether they’re messy, sticky or fussy.” In January 2008, Lawson was estimated to have sold more than 3 million books worldwide. Her Christmas book was released in October 2008 and the television show in December of the same year. An American edition of the book “Nigella Christmas” with a different cover photograph was released in November 2009 with an accompanying book tour of several US cities and a special on the USA’s Food Network.
2010–2014, Nigellissima and The Taste
Lawson was featured as one of the three judges on a special battle of Iron Chef America, titled “The Super Chef Battle”, which pitted White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and Iron Chef Bobby Flay against chef Emeril Lagasse and Iron Chef Mario Batali. This episode was originally broadcast on 3 January 2010. Lawson’s cookbook Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home (2010) is a tie-in with the TV series “Nigella Kitchen.” This was shown in the UK and on the Food Network in the United States.
Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration was released in 2012. The 8-part TV series entitled Nigellissima was broadcast by the BBC. Nigella Lawson obtained work experience in Italy during her gap year.
Lawson travelled to the United States in 2013 and starred alongside Anthony Bourdain in the reality cooking show The Taste. The UK version of the show began airing on 7 January 2014 on Channel 4. Lawson was granted a visa to travel to the United States and travelled there for a continuation of the series. In 2014 Lawson was hired by a chocolate company to appear in an advertisement, the advertisement was filmed in New Zealand in May for a local confection manufacturer Whittaker’s.
2015-, Simply Nigella, Eurovision and MasterChef Australia
The UK and US series of The Taste were both completed and in autumn 2015 Lawson began Simply Nigella for BBC 2. The focus was on comfort food, familiar dishes that are simple and quick to cook.
Lawson was spokesperson for the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest 2015, giving the twelve points to Sweden‘s Måns Zelmerlöw and his song “Heroes“, which went on to win the contest. 
Presenting style and image
Though Lawson has enjoyed a successful career in cookery, she is not a trained chef, and does not like being referred to as a “celebrity chef”. Furthermore, she does not see herself as a cook or an expert in her field. Throughout Lawson’s television programmes, she emphasises that she cooks for her own pleasure, for enjoyment, and that she finds cooking therapeutic. When deciding upon which recipes to feature in her books, she takes the view of the eater, stating, “If it’s something I don’t want to carry on eating once I’m full, then I don’t want the recipe … I have to feel that I want to cook the thing again”.
Lawson has adopted a casual approach to cooking, stating, “I think cooking should be about fun and family. … I think part of my appeal is that my approach to cooking is really relaxed and not rigid. There are no rules in my kitchen.” One editor, highlighting the technical simplicity of Lawson’s recipes, noted that “her dishes require none of the elaborate preparation called for by most TV chefs”.
Lawson has become renowned for her flirtatious manner of presenting, although she argues “It’s not meant to be flirtatious. … I don’t have the talent to adopt a different persona. It’s intimate, not flirtatious”. The perceived overt sexuality of her presentation style has led to Lawson being called the “queen of food porn“. Many commentators have alluded to Lawson’s attractiveness, and she was once named as one of the world’s most beautiful women. She has been referred to as “stunningly beautiful, warm, honest, likeable and amazingly normal”, as well as being described as having “flawless skin, perfect white teeth, a voluptuous body, ample height and lots of lush, brown hair”. Nigella Lawson has been voted, Sexiest Celebrity Chef. The media have also noted Lawson’s ability to engage with both male and female viewers; The Guardian wrote, “Men love her because they want to be with her. Women love her because they want to be her”. The chef Gary Rhodes said that viewers were attracted to her smile rather than her cooking. Despite often being labelled as a domestic goddess, she insists that she exhibits very few of the qualities associated with the title.
One critic summarised, “her descriptions of food can be a tangle of adjectives”.
Relationships and children
Lawson met journalist John Diamond in 1986, when they were both writing for The Sunday Times. They married in Venice in 1992, and have a daughter, Cosima, and a son, Bruno. Diamond was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1997 and died in March 2001, aged 47. One of his last messages to Lawson was, “How proud I am of you and what you have become. The great thing about us is that we have made us who we are.” His death occurred during the filming of Nigella Bites; “I took a fortnight off. But I’m not a great believer in breaks”, Lawson explained; she suffered a bout of depression following the funeral. After Diamond’s death, Lawson kept all of the press clippings in what she called her “Morbidobox”.
Lawson married art collector Charles Saatchi in September 2003. Lawson was not always happy for unspecified reasons and admitted in 2012 that she sometimes said, “Please God, get me through the ordeal that is today.”
In June 2013, photographs were published by The Sunday People of Lawson being grabbed around the neck by Saatchi, during an argument outside a London seafood restaurant. According to a witness, Lawson was very distressed by the incident. Saatchi later described the pictures as showing only a “playful tiff” and his trying to emphasise a point. After a police investigation of the incident, Saatchi was cautioned for assault, and it was reported that Lawson had left the family home. Lawson said in court Saatchi subjected her to “intimate terrorism”, that he threatened to maliciously finish her 1,000-piece jigsaw[clarification needed] unless she cleared him in court. Subsequently, while giving evidence, Lawson claimed casual cruelty and controlling behaviour by Saatchi made her unhappy and drove her to occasional drug use. She cited as examples that Saatchi prevented her entertaining at home and punished her for going to a birthday party of a woman friend. She was not beaten but was left emotionally scarred.
Saatchi announced his divorce from Lawson in early July, stating that he had “clearly been a disappointment to Nigella during the last year or so” and the couple had “become estranged and drifted apart”. Lawson made no public comment in response; however, court papers showed that it was Lawson who filed for divorce, citing ongoing unreasonable behaviour. On 31 July 2013, seven weeks after the incident, the pair was granted a decree nisi, ending their ten-year marriage. They reached a private financial settlement.
Assistants’ fraud trial
On 27 November 2013, a trial of the former couple’s two personal assistants, Italian-born sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, began in R v Grillo and Grillo. The Grillos were accused of fraudulently using the credit cards of Saatchi’s private company. During court proceedings in early December, the sisters claimed that Lawson had permitted their use of the credit cards in exchange for their silence regarding her drug use. Questions regarding Lawson’s drug use were allowed by the judge as part of the sisters’ “bad character” defence. Lawson admitted to taking cocaine and cannabis but denied she had been addicted, stating, “I found it made an intolerable situation tolerable.” On 20 December 2013, the two sisters were acquitted. Scotland Yard said that Lawson would not be investigated over the drug allegations.
Charles Saatchi was alleged to have started a drug smear campaign against Lawson in the British media, through PR man Richard Hillgrove, before the trial was over. Lawson’s lawyers demanded that Hillgrove remove comments about her made in his blog. Lawson claimed in court that ending her marriage to Saatchi had created tolerable conditions for herself and her family, describing Saatchi as “a brilliant but brutal man.”
Lawson maintained she was “totally cannabis, cocaine, any drug, free” after the divorce.
Interests and beliefs
Although both of Lawson’s parents are Jewish, her upbringing was non-observant and Lawson herself identifies as an atheist. In one of her newspaper articles, she has shown a liberal attitude to sexuality (“most [women] simply have, somewhere, a fantasy about having sex, in a non-defining, non-exclusive way, with other women.”)
Lawson is a supporter of the Lavender Trust which gives support to young women with breast cancer. She first became involved with the charity in 2002 when she baked some lavender cupcakes to be auctioned at a fundraising event, which sold for a significant amount of money. She subsequently featured the recipe in her book Forever Summer with Nigella.
In December 2008, Lawson caused controversy and was featured in various newspapers for publicly advocating wearing fur. She also remarked that she would love to kill a bear and then wear it.
It was revealed by leaked Whitehall documents in 2003 that Lawson declined an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II in 2001. As the daughter of a life peer, Lawson is entitled to the courtesy style of “The Honourable“, and is thus named The Hon. Nigella Lawson; however, she does not use this courtesy style.
Lawson has stated that she believes cooking is “a metaphor for life”, in the sense that “When you cook, you need structure […] but just as importantly you need to be able to loosen up and go with the flow […] you must not strive for perfection but, rather, acknowledge your mistakes and work out how you can rectify them”. She has described cooking as “a way of strengthening oneself”, in the sense that “being able to sustain oneself is the skill of the survivor”.
|1999–2001||Nigella Bites||Host||16 episodes (series 1–2; one Christmas special)|
|2002||Forever Summer||Host||8 episodes|
|2006||Nigella Feasts||Host||13 episodes|
|2006, 2008||Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen||Host||6 episodes (series 1–2)|
|2007||Nigella Express||Host||13 episodes|
|2009||Top Chef||Guest judge||Episode: “Strip Around the World” (season 6)|
|2010||Super Chef Battle: An Iron Chef America Event||Guest judge||Television special|
|2010||Nigella Kitchen||Host||13 episodes|
|2011||MasterChef Australia||Guest judge||Episode: “Offsite Challenge 4” (series 3)|
|2013–14||The Taste||Judge||23 episodes (series 1–3)|
|2014||The Taste (UK)||Judge||10 episodes (series 1)|
|2014||Modern Family||Herself||Episode: “Three Turkeys“|
|2015||Eurovision Song Contest 2015||Herself||Finale|
|2015||Simply Nigella||Host||6 episodes and one Christmas special|
|2016||MasterChef Australia||Guest judge||5 episodes (series 8)|
|2017||Nigella: At My Table||Host||6 episodes and one Christmas special|
|2018||MasterChef Australia||Guest judge||5 episodes (series 10)|
- 2000: British Book Award – Author of the Year for How to be a Domestic Goddess
- 2001: WH Smith Book Award – How To Be A Domestic Goddess shortlisted for Lifestyle Book of the Year
- 2001: Guild of Food Writers – Television Broadcast of the Year for Nigella Bites
- 2001: World Food Media Award – Gold Ladle Best Television Food Show for Nigella Bites
- 2002: WH Smith Book Awards – Lifestyle Book of the Year for Nigella Bites
- 2007: World Food Media Award – Gold Ladle Best Food And/Or Drink Television Show for Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen
- How to Eat: Pleasures and Principles of Good Food, Chatto and Windus, John Wiley & Sons, (ISBN 0-471-25750-8, 1998)
- How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking, Chatto and Windus, (ISBN 0-7011-6888-9, 2000)
- Nigella Bites, Chatto and Windus, (ISBN 0-7011-7287-8, 2001)
- Forever Summer with Nigella, Chatto and Windus, (ISBN 0-7011-7381-5, 2002)
- Feast: Food to Celebrate Life, Chatto and Windus, (ISBN 0-7011-7521-4, 2004) or Hyperion (ISBN 1-4013-0136-3, 2004)
- Nigella Lawson, A Biography, Gilly Smith (ISBN 1-56980-299-8, 2006)
- Nigella Express, Chatto and Windus, (ISBN 0-7011-8184-2, 2007)
- Nigella Christmas, Chatto and Windus (ISBN 0-7011-8322-5, 2008)
- Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home, Chatto and Windus (ISBN 0-7011-8460-4, 2010)
- Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration, Chatto and Windus (ISBN 0-7011-8733-6, 2012)
- Simply Nigella, Chatto and Windus (ISBN 978-0-7011-8935-8, 2015)
- At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking, Chatto and Windus, (ISBN 978-1784741631, 2017)