EXCLUSIVE: Alexandra Richards may have been raised in a small town in Connecticut, but her life has been far from ordinary.
Her mother is supermodel Patti Hansen and her dad is Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. She spent her childhood both attending public school and going on tour around the world. At 14, she kicked off her modeling career and landed her first major campaign with Tommy Hilfiger. Once her career skyrocketed, she became a sought-after DJ in the New York City club scene.
Today, the 34-year-old wants to rescue our oceans. Richards is a board member of Project Zero, an organization that aims to raise global awareness on the importance of protecting our oceans, as well as igniting change. Some of its ambassadors include Princess Eugenie, Slash, Liv Tyler, Laird Hamilton and Princess Theodora von Liechtenstein, among others. Mick Jagger’s son James Jagger also serves on the board.
Richards spoke to Fox News about what it was like growing up with two famous parents, how her dad really feels about her work as a DJ, as well as why she’s passionate about turning the tide when it comes to our oceans.
Fox News: When did you first realize Keith Richards was different from other dads?
Alexandra Richards: I wouldn’t say it was something that you just woke up and you had that feeling. You know he’s a legend in most people’s eyes, but for me, I grew up in a very private background with the same kids from school. I didn’t really notice it. My dad’s just dad *laughs*.
Fox News: Growing up, you went on tour with your family. What was that like?
Richards: I have to say we were just truly blessed to be able to pick up and go see different countries in the world and what they were going through, or explore [things] like food and culture at such a young eye. It really was eye-opening rather than maybe [just] sitting in a classroom - actually going and experiencing life.
Did I miss out on a couple of things, like at school, that I missed with my friends? Yes. You know, we did so much traveling. I miss my friends and the family that we had back at home. But, at the same time, I was getting a different kind of education. And being able to see the world like that was truly, truly amazing.
Fox News: What’s your favorite memory from those travels?
Richards: It has been awhile… I hope they get to go back on the road soon. I guess it was that family sense. It was kind of like a family reunion. It’s funny because I have my mom’s side, which is very homey. It’s like our home family. And then we go on tour with dad, and it was a different kind of family. It was, yes, wild. And we got to travel and experience all of these new places together. So I think, to me, that’s kind of funny because it was kind of juggling two different kinds of words but very blessed to have both.
Fox News: You’re a DJ. What drew you to that world?
Richards: Modeling was starting to slow down and I was at art school. I had two friends of mine who were DJs and in New York and really into that kind of scene… I was very shy and practicing being more of an extrovert. So for me, being in the DJ booth, I could be kind of social when I wanted to be, but then retract into the music that I like to play. And then getting a whole bunch of people to dance was just a perfect fit for me.
I started deejaying 15 years ago already. It’s kind of nuts to think about. Now it’s been nice to take this downtime. I’ve been able to focus on a lot more projects, like my artwork… I am looking forward to when these doors open and I can DJ again.
Fox News: Who are some of your favorite artists to play?
Richards: Anything from The Supremes or The Ronettes hits home for a lot of people and it always gets them on the dance floor.
Fox News: What does Keith Richards think of you being a DJ?
Richards: He’s actually accepted what I do. And he’s really proud of my adventure through deejaying. I mean, I am creating my own sound in a way. But for him, he has grown to understand what it is. It’s a new thing for him to kind of wrap his head around, but he’s proud of it.
It’s interesting because, I think for my dad, before DJs you had bands playing at events like weddings and everything like that. And then all of a sudden, the DJ world started coming in and it would take jobs for those amazing musicians. So I think for him, when he heard about that, knowing that I’m not actually like a musician, I think it was a little bit hard to swallow. But you know, music evolves. And that’s the whole beautiful thing about music and the connection between people and the accessibility we have now. It’s pretty amazing. So yeah, he likes it *laughs*. Share the music, share the love.
Fox News: Before deejaying, you were modeling. Did your mom give you any advice or pointers?
Richards: No because the modeling thing became more about me. As someone who was 16-17 and grew up in a really small town, I wanted to go out and see the world for myself. And whenever we went on tour, it only made me realize how much I wanted to accomplish that. So getting on a plane and going to Paris and London where I would work with very talented photographers - I just felt very blessed I was able to step into that world on my own. And I was such an introvert, so I think that really helped me gain the confidence that I was really searching for.
Fox News: Tell us about your work with Project Zero.
Richards: I’ve been over at Project Zero since 2014. Um, I actually started deejaying for them. It’s all about raising awareness about our ocean. And as I'm deejaying these events, I started to learn more and more about what was going on in our ocean. And it was really shocking for me. So I actually got more deeply invested. I'm a director over there now.
Our CEO, Michelle Clarke, is just such a legend. She's done so much in the past couple of years just getting all of these amazing people together to kind of share that same love for the ocean and raise awareness about it.
Fox News: What was it about our oceans that made you want to take action?
Richards: I mean, besides the climate crisis that’s going on, just the overfishing and pollution caused by plastic. For me, that was a really big thing. I know it's hard for some people, but it's really important that we all remember where [our waste] ends up.
I think it's just taking those little baby steps in the right direction to help secure and protect the ocean. And only 2% of it is protected at this time. So Project Zero’s goals are to have 30% of it, hopefully by 2030, protected. It's just a crazy number to think about. It's so small and the ocean provides us so much.
Fox News: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved, but they don’t know where to begin?
Richards: I really liked the three R’s: reuse, recycle and restore. Those are really helpful for me just to remember in my daily life choices. If you go on Project Zero’s site, we also offer so many amazing tips.
But you know, bring a tote bag [instead of using plastic bags]. If you’re a smoker - which I hope you’re not - don’t buy lighters. Use matches instead. Buy reusable straws [instead of plastic ones] and water bottles. There are so many cool different designs out there right now. Everybody can do their part… It’s hard to think about the grand picture, but if you do your part, and everybody does their part, we can truly make a difference.
Fox News: How have you managed to stay so grounded?
Richards: I have to say it was my upbringing. My parents were never into scenes and all of that. I think they had enough of it when they were younger. So for my other sister and I, I think that was a really big thing for us living outside of that world and knowing they had this kind of past. And for me, I just wanted something different. I like the quiet life. I get my fix as a DJ because it’s such an amazing feeling just being up there performing.
But I think I’m very grounded. My husband and I like that kind of private life. You know, don’t show too much *laughs*. Right now, we are just hopeful for the future. I really want to get that our message out there that we can all do our part and really make a difference for our planet.
Project Zero will launch a special art auction that will be available on Artsy from Sept. 30-Oct. 14.