Hollywood Flashback: In 2003, 'Born Rich' Turned a Lens on Ivanka Trump's Privilege
Director-producer Jamie Johnson's documentary, which offered a look into the lives of the ultra-wealthy, featured the then-22-year-old daughter of the president-elect showing off her childhood bedroom on the 68th floor of Trump Tower.
Ivanka Trump's brush with the film industry came at the 2003 Sundance premiere of Born Rich, a doc The Hollywood Reporter called "a fascinating look at the lifestyles of the young, the rich and the restless." It featured scions of the Bloomberg, Newhouse, Trump and other families talking about having grown up ultra-wealthy. "It was made before all the reality TV shows about wealth and celebrity were on the air," says director-producer Jamie Johnson, the now-37-year-old heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune.
"The kids in the documentary weren't trying to make themselves into popular television personalities. There was something genuine in the way they were presenting themselves." While some now might cringe at what they said about financial privilege (Luke Weil, son of a gaming-industry magnate, unsuccessfully sued to get cut from the film), Ivanka, then 22, comes off as unusually grounded and friendly. "People tend to like her," says Johnson. "She's not as abrasive as her father."
When Ivanka shows off her childhood bedroom on Trump Tower's 68th floor, the Motley Crue and Bon Jovi posters give it an "everyteen" quality. (But the ornate purple canopy over the bed is classic Trump.) While gazing at Manhattan, she says real estate is in her "blood" and that she loves "looking at the skyline and being able to figure out what I'm going to add." She does share one revealing anecdote about Donald: When she was 10, they were walking on Fifth Avenue and her father pointed to a homeless person and said, "That guy has $8 billion more than me." Confused at the time, Ivanka later learned her father had taken on "extreme debt" that then allowed him to take a $916 million tax write-off from real estate losses.
Now a mother of three, Ivanka is an author and executive vp development and acquisitions at The Trump Organization. In her 2009 self-help book, The Trump Card, she argues that being born rich can be a handicap and that she and her older brothers weren't hired by Dad "by any kind of birthright or foregone conclusion." Her next book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success, is due in March.
This story first appeared in the Dec. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.