Lala Kent arrived on Andy Cohen's Vanderpump Rules during its fourth season and has since stolen all headlines surrounding the show.
Young (aged just 27) , pretty and flirty, she was the perfect addition to a show caught up in the drama of a busy L.A restaurant. Assimiliating well with the cast and story lines, between love interests and faux-friendships, as reality TV stars go, she's someone that is sure to keep you watching.
And while it may be easy to judge those on the show for antics and drama, it's off camera that you perhaps get a better glimpse of the person on television. Kent is currently using her platform (which includes a whopping 470k Instagram following) to help causes close to her heart. She launched an initiative with her Pump colleagues Scheana Marie and Ariana Medix to free the orcas from SeaWorld to critical acclaim. The ladies will work in conjunction with PETA and other celebrities to garner support for the release of the orcas into a seaside sanctuary. "When I saw the documentary Blackfish it literally changed my entire life," says Kent in the promotional video for the campaign.
Lala Kent sat down with SWAAY to answer some of our pressing questions regarding reality television, social media and music. The star got candid on the realities of life behind the camera of Vanderpump Rules which you can currently binge on Hulu.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Salt Lake City, but I wasn't raised in a religious home— that was weird for a family in Utah to not participate in the main religion. I had all the freedom in the world, grew up in an open family. Nothing was off limits to discuss. My mom and dad started prepping me at a young age to become whatever my heart desired. Still to this day they think I could be president if I “really wanted to be". Pretty silly, but cute.
How were you approached for Vanderpump?
It was super organic. I have been eating at Sur for ten years. When Lisa saw me interacting with some of the bartenders and waitresses, she approached my best friend who worked at Sur at the time, got my contact info, and here we are, going on three seasons later.
What is the reality of reality tv? Are you portrayed fairly?
I believe everyone is portrayed fairly. Everything that is seen on our show is real. I think, we, as Vanderpump Rules cast members, pride ourselves on the authenticity of our show.
What is the shooting experience like and how often are they filming you?
As hectic as our film schedule is and has hard as it is to talk about our real lives, shooting is so much fun. We film every single week usually every day. It's a long process, but pretty therapeutic at times.
Do they give you advance notice or is it spontaneous? How real are the relationships, are they exaggerated?
They always let us know beforehand what to expect for the week- because it is all real and we are living out our lives free of a script. Nothing is ever set in stone, things change quickly. Everything from the loving, the fight, the relationships, they are all genuine.
Do you look at it as a favorable experience?
Overall, yes. It has taught me so much and helped me grow into a person who wasn't just raised by her family and living by the book. Not only have opportunities come from it, but I've gained knowledge and perspective as well.
Is reality tv empowering as a woman?
I think being a woman, in general, is empowering. Whether you're a movie star, reality personality, model, waitress, flipping burgers, I don't care. I am living for women these days and what we bring to the table in any atmosphere. Such an incredible time for my chicks!
What's your relationship with social media?
It's love-hate. I become obsessed with it, then I want to delete it. Once I learned to turn comments off on certain photos, avoid DM's, and laugh at mean comments I see, I started losing my bitterness towards the Gram.
On the show why do you think people are so intrigued by you?
I'm that chick that just keeps it real. I work through my issues, but I'm also a hothead. I think people with colorful language, a “don't fuck with me" attitude, and a soft heart are intriguing... I think I have that quality. I'm the chick you wanna watch but are grateful you don't have to live in my head!
What was your favorite/worst day of filming?
The worst day of filming would have to be all of the season. I was all alone and feeling very weak. Best days are always when I get to work on music and create that artistic atmosphere. It's like nothing else.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.