The Transformation Of Vanessa Lachey From Childhood To 40 Years Old

Vanessa Lachey (formerly Minnillo) has been in the entertainment business for quite some time, but it doesn't appear that she'll be slowing down anytime soon. The "Love is Blind" host launched into fame back in 1998 after taking home the Miss Teen USA crown, but solidified her star status when she hosted MTV's super popular "TRL" in the early 2000's.

From there Lachey has acted in several TV series and even a few movies, as well as hosted an array of shows like "True Beauty," and "Top Chef Junior." She also frequently works with her husband, former 98 Degrees member turned actor, Nick Lachey. Fans seem to love following their relationship as well as their life with their three children, whom Lachey often posts about on her Instagram. In 2021, the family moved to Hawaii after the "A Twist of Christmas" star landed a starring role in the TV series "NCIS: Hawaii," proving once again that she always finds ways to sustain her TV career. 

While Lachey has changed a lot from her start as a teen beauty and MTV VJ, it seems for her that life just keeps getting better even as she ages. As she explained to People, "For me, the beauty in that is it's never too late to start with whatever destiny you want to create." Lachey definitely created her own destiny over the years, so let's take a look at her transformation from her childhood to the successful working mother she is today.

Vanessa Lachey had a rocky childhood

Vanessa Lachey had a difficult childhood since her mother left when she was very young and her dad traveled a lot for work. It left a lasting impact on Lachey who dished to People, "I think a mom-daughter relationship is one that guides you through life. There's a different relationship with your father ... but he was in the military and he was gone a lot." While Lachey's father remarried, the former "TRL" host clarified, "My stepmom said she didn't want children, so it was a very rocky, tumultuous childhood."

Lachey's mother abandoning her seemed to eventually lead to her desire to start a family of her own. Lachey recalled to Ryan Seacrest, "I finally bucked up and said ... 'I'm going to find my Prince Charming and we're going to have a family.'" Lachey also didn't want how she grew up to negatively affect her own kids. "Instead of constantly saying, 'I don't have a mom to show me how to do my makeup ... how to be a good wife or a good mom,' I said ... 'I can start that for my daughter and be that positive influence,'" she explained to People.

Yet it wasn't all bad. Since Lachey's father was in the Air Force, she got to live in several different places all over the world from Germany to Turkey. While that may be challenging for a kid, Lachey saw it as a positive, telling the Inquirer, "I love travel and new experiences. Those were amazing learning experiences for me."

Vanessa Lachey became Miss Teen USA at 17

At age 17, Vanessa Lachey's life changed when she won the 1998 Miss Teen USA pageant. It seems the organization remained really special to Lachey even 20 years after her win since she told Entertainment Weekly in 2018, "I believe everything professionally and emotionally good in my life has single-handedly come from this event."

Lachey apparently had exactly what the judges were looking for just by being herself. She recalled, "I later asked the judges, 'What was it?' And they said, 'You acted like you were 17. You were just a fun, quirky 17-year-old. You weren't trying to be somebody you weren't.'" Not only did Lachey add that it "really gave me that full confidence boost that I needed for the rest of my life," she also knows it opened a lot of doors for her career. She told the Inquirer, "It was the stepping stone I needed," adding that from there, "I started working and forwarding my career."

It wasn't all work though. Lachey gushed to The Daily Dish, "We were all, you know, 16, 17, 18 years old. And so we got two weeks in Shreveport, Louisiana, *NSYNC was there performing, we were all just having so much fun." Those kinds of happy memories were probably why Lachey and her husband returned to host the event in 2018 and 2019. She explained to Entertainment Weekly, "We wanted to do something together and this pageant is near and dear to my heart."

At 22, Vanessa Lachey joined MTV

It's safe to say it was MTV that made Vanessa Lachey a household name in 2003. At just 22-years-old, Lachey became the host of "TRL" following Carson Daly's departure. The "NCIS: Hawaii" star recalled to PopCulture, "I just remember being young in New York working in Times Square, being, like, full glam and just living it up." The show was a huge hit with young fans and Lachey believes it was because it "was nothing like any other show out there in the sense that it wasn't just music or entertainers or actors or just politics." She added, "It was everything for that generation, and so I miss it." 

To this day, Lachey frequently posts about her time on the show on her Instagram and even made her own hashtag for her throwback photos, #TRLTuesday. During her stint on MTV, Lachey also worked as a correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight." She gushed to the Inquirer in 2006 that the best part of it all was, "All the wonderful events, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and the people I meet." She made it a point to add, "I just love my job!"

While Lachey may have met a lot of celebrities at both jobs, it was on "TRL" where she was able to get closer to her now-husband Nick Lachey. He told Billboard, "I wouldn't necessarily say "TRL" brought us together, but that was definitely part of our time together." It seems this time of Lachey's life was particularly good to her.

Vanessa Lachey started dating Nick Lachey at 25

In 2006, when Vanessa Lachey was 25-years-old, she got together with the man who would become her husband, Nick Lachey. While the singer had appeared on "TRL" while Vanessa was hosting, it was when she appeared in his music video that things got romantic. Vanessa explained to Billboard, "It wasn't until, coincidentally, I broke up with my longtime boyfriend and he was getting divorced that we ended up reconnecting. He did a solo album and he asked me to do the video for "What's Left of Me."

Fans even got to see the sparks fly firsthand thanks to MTV's "Making the Video" show. Vanessa gushed to the camera (via E!), "Nick is awesome. He's a gem. Mini crush." Vanessa also seemed to admire how he used the song to cope with his divorce from Jessica Simpson. She revealed (per E!), "It's great to see Nick dealing with his own heartache by talking about it and being so open and honest."

Working together one-on-one apparently made Vanessa realize she wanted more. She recalled (via Billboard), "That's what made it no longer friends and it got romantic. To the point that if you go back and look at the video, when he came to premiere it [on "TRL"], I was so nervous and so crushing him that I didn't show up for work that day." The crush turned out to be mutual and by that New Year's Eve, (per Us Weekly) the two confirmed their romance with a midnight kiss.

Vanessa Lachey was involved in a 2007 scandal

It appears 2007 was a bit of a rough year for then 26-year-old Vanessa Lachey since she was involved in two embarrassing photo scandals, with one incident involving infamous bad girl Lindsay Lohan. According to People, photos showing Lachey and Lohan holding knives to each other and Lachey pulling down Lohan's shirt went viral. It was suggested at the time that the scandal would damage Lachey's booming career as a TV host and give her a party girl reputation. While that of course didn't happen, Lachey admitted (via CBS News), "Yes, of course, it was bad judgment. Yes, of course I was embarrassed."

It didn't help that around the same time, photos of the former "TRL" host and her then-boyfriend, Nick Lachey, getting hot and heavy in a hot tub while on vacation also hit the internet. The singer defended himself and Vanessa, saying, "Where's the scandal? I was in Mexico with my girlfriend of a year, celebrating our anniversary on a private vacation." He did add though that it was hard to see his love hurt by the drama. Nick explained, "It's tough to see someone you care about be unfairly judged. It's hard for me as a man to see my girl go through that."

Despite being embarrassed, the scandal ended up bringing the couple closer together. Vanessa gushed (via E!), "I see even more now that Nick is the man I thought he was... He has single-handedly pulled me through."

Big changes for Vanessa Lachey at 27 and 28

It seems that 2008 and 2009 brought a lot of changes for Vanessa Lachey, both professionally and personally. The year before, Lachey had decided to leave her job at MTV, apparently feeling that she was aging out of the "TRL" audience at age 26. She explained to People, "I'm ready for the next chapter – what it is, I have no idea. [But] I don't want to be 48 saying, 'Hey kids, now it's Sean Preston Spears's video."

From there, Lachey seemingly turned her focus to acting and in 2008 appeared in "Disaster Movie," as well as the TV series, "How I Met Your Mother" and "CSI: New York." Although Lachey's roles were relatively small, she told the Inquirer a few years before that acting was one of her goals but it's "a craft that you have to master. You don't just jump into it." Yet Lachey didn't take too much time away from hosting and by 2009 had a new gig on the reality show "True Beauty."

Lachey may have found her footing outside of MTV but her personal life took a blow in 2009 when the then 28-year-old and Nick Lachey briefly split. The former boybander dished to Us Weekly, "We're trying to figure things out. I don't pretend to know what the future holds, but everything's good." Their future of course was them being together. The couple eventually worked it out and were back together for good before the end of that year.

Vanessa Lachey got married at age 30

In 2011, a then 30-year-old Vanessa Minnillo officially became Mrs. Lachey after she and Nick Lachey tied the knot that July. The duo opted for a destination wedding on Richard Branson's private Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. Lachey revealed (via Us Weekly) that they wanted their wedding to be just "for us, for the people in our lives who are close to us and mean a lot to us," adding, "I'm happy we're able to do it that way."  Nick also claimed (via ABC News), "Helicopters and paparazzi around the island ... for us that's nightmare scenario." Yet they did end up filming the big day and days leading up to it for their TLC special, "Nick and Vanessa's Dream Wedding."

Despite it being on an island, Vanessa told People that she didn't want a beach wedding. "I wanted to be in that long traditional wedding gown with heels and I wanted my groom in a tux and shoes and not barefoot on the beach," she explained. Apparently, her groom agreed since he later confessed that the moment he saw her, "It literally took my breath away."

The couple still shares photos of their wedding on their respective Instagrams to this day. They also seem to know how to keep their romance alive long after they wed. The former "Miss Teen USA" told Us Weekly, "It's always a secret to any marriage. Anytime that you can find spontaneous intimacy with your partner, I think, is a go!"

Vanessa Lachey became a mom in 2012

In 2012, Vanessa Lachey became a mother after she and husband, Nick Lachey, welcomed son Camden that September. She blogged about how that felt, writing, "After 14 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing ... it was ALL worth it! I couldn't understand how anyone could ever feel anything less than this enormous amount of pure love." She added, "I knew this was what I was meant to be: a Wife, and a Mother." Lachey also touched on the difficult moments, confessing there's, "the fear of not knowing what I'm doing. The fear of 'messing up' this little boy."

Of course Lachey came into her own as a mother and went on to have two more children, daughter, Brooklyn, in 2015, and son, Phoenix, in 2016. While Lachey has managed to juggle motherhood with work since, she admitted that her career initially took a backseat. She told Fox News, "When I was pregnant, I had all these meetings, but then ... we decided what we wanted as a family." She continued, "It's important for me to take this time now to be a mom; it's one of the hardest jobs out there."

Even though, Lachey obviously loves being a mother, she admitted to People in 2019, "I have tons of fails ... that range from something as simple as missing the bus to school ... to snapping at a knee-jerk reaction and saying something you regret." She continued, "We all are constantly struggling daily, but that's also the beautiful side of parenthood."

Vanessa Lachey competed on Dancing With the Stars at age 36

In 2017, at age 36, Vanessa Lachey landed another high-profile TV gig but this time she wasn't hosting, she was dancing, on "Dancing With the Stars" no less. At the time, she told ET about what it was like performing saying, "It is literally speaking emotion through movement, and I was worried I wasn't going to be able to do it."

Yet it wasn't just dancing that Lachey struggled with. There were reports that the mom of three also didn't get along with her dancing partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Unnamed sources told E!, "Their personalities have completely clashed and they really don't get along off set." Chmerkovskiy denied there was beef, saying (via Us Weekly), "[Things] were never bad ... It's been a great season...We're a great couple. We're doing our best." Lachey seemingly echoed that to ET by calling him "a great teacher." She added that having him there made her feel less nervous, explaining, "I know I got this guy literally standing there, and he's got my back."

Perhaps Lachey was just feeling super competitive since her husband, Nick Lachey, was also on the show, battling for the Mirror Ball trophy. He joked on GMA (via ABC News), "I've actually moved out of the house for the duration of the season, just to keep the peace." However, his wife later told Heavy it was all in fun, dishing, "We enjoy working together....We were there to support each other and not one-up each other."

Things got awkward for Vanessa Lachey in her late 30's

In 2019, a then 38-year-old Vanessa Lachey was involved in an awkward situation with her husband's ex-wife, Jessica Simpson. Lachey had posted photos of her daughter, Brooklyn, for her third birthday when a fan tweeted (via ET), "Ok... elephant in the room... but why does Nick and Vanessa Lachey's daughter look like Jessica Simpson?" The mom of three wasn't having it and responded to the tweet, writing, "2019, new year, new outlook. Let's be positive, especially with our children. Thanks Kimberly."

While Lachey kept that exchange classy, some weren't as impressed with how she handled another uncomfortable moment involving Simpson that next year. According to E!, the Lacheys were appearing on the "Today" show when host Hoda Kotb brought up how Simpson had told her that the Lacheys had "sent me something beautiful when we had our children." Things then got weird when Lachey responded, "I feel bad, I'm sorry, you said somebody sent wasn't us, but thank you, whoever sent it."

Many took to Twitter to accuse the former "TRL" host of throwing shade at Simpson. Lachey defended herself, tweeting, "I think it's weird accepting credit for something you didn't do or give. Even weirder to bring up something so random. Just giving facts. Wanted to make sure we were truthful." She tried to keep it light though, tweeting, "Should I have pretended to give it? Dang. Can we get a do over and I will tell them it was big beautiful basket."

Vanessa Lachey made the best of 2020

While 2020 was a hard year for most folks, Vanessa Lachey's career took an upturn thanks to her gig hosting Netflix's popular dating show "Love is Blind," alongside her husband. The "Christmas Unleashed" star told Insider, "The show's concept is really beautiful. In a way, it's like how Nick and I did our courtship. Yes, we knew what each other looked like ... [but] we sort of developed this emotional connection first." The couple seemed to be super invested in the project, with Lachey revealing, "Nick and I spent hours with participants, both individually and then as a couple in their apartments."

Despite the success of the show, just like the rest of the world, the Lacheys were dealing with life amid a global pandemic. The "Top Chef Junior" host confessed to People that when it came to quarantine, "It challenged my marriage and my personal lifestyle. The whole idea of self-care went out the window."

Yet, Lachey was able to find a positive in spending more time with her children. She told Parents, "It's really fun to spark conversation with them that I never normally would've had the opportunity to do and also see how their little minds work." She added that she also tried to keep things as normal as possible for them. "Anything you can do that you've done in the past that triggers a happy memory for them ... I think is a positive way to kind of help guide them through this hard time," she said.

Vanessa Lachey landed her dream job at age 40

As of 2021, 40-years-old Vanessa Lachey appears to be thriving, especially since landing a starring role on the TV series "NCIS: Hawai'i." She shared a video of when she learned she got the job on her Instagram, writing in the caption, "My life is changed forever." Lachey, the first female lead for the franchise, told ET, "It's something I definitely don't take for granted and something that I will not take lightly. But it's an honor." She reiterated that to Shondaland, adding how it's "definitely a move in the right direction for women and especially Asian-American actresses who want to secure leading roles in television and film."

The show even brought a major life change for her family in that they relocated to Hawaii where it shoots. Lachey recalled her husband's reaction to the move to ET, saying, "I'll never forget him saying, 'This is your time and you've been there in the past for me.'" As for their kids, they've really taken to their new home. "I didn't even realize I had island babies until I brought them here," Lachey joked.

It seems that for Lachey, life just keeps getting better with age. She even gushed that this new chapter, "is everything that I've ever wanted, dreamed, envisioned." She continued, "I've realized that all of my work ... and how I try to be as a person ... is all encapsulated in this moment." Lachey is seemingly transforming into the woman she always wanted to become.