Lisa Vanderpump Dishes On The Gifts And Challenges Of Being A Reality TV ‘Star’

VANDERPUMP RULES -- Season:5 -- Pictured: Lisa Vanderpump -- (Photo by: Tommy Garcia/Bravo)

Lisa Vanderpump is one of a handful of Bravo Housewives who has staying power in this sometimes precarious industry. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules star recently shared her feelings on what it means to be a reality ‘star,’ including how she initially got into the world of warring Housewives, and how she has navigated its rocky waters since.

Part of Lisa’s appeal is her depth. Lisa is not merely a “housewife” who cameras follow around for dramatic purposes; she’s also a long time business woman, brand builder, and activist for animal rights and the LGBT community. The restaurateur and humanitarian seems to understand something that many of the other Bravo Housewives (96 in total since the franchise’s inception ten years ago) often do not: Audiences stick with the person, not the persona.


In a recent interview with Ad Week Magazine, Lisa talked in depth about her feelings on being in the limelight, and her hopes for the future.

Lisa admits that she initially turned down the opportunity to become a Housewife but, “the third time [she was asked] I thought, ‘OK, I will go in [for an audition].’ I didn’t think I gave a great interview, but then they came to interview me at my house again after that. [Bravo personality] Andy Cohen now says that I was the reason he green-lit Beverly Hills because he says he saw something different, something quirky in me.”

Her family wasn’t always supportive of Lisa’s choice to put her (and their) life on display, however. At first, “They weren’t thrilled. Initially I felt a little sense of security in the fact that the show [didn’t air in England], but it’s becoming quite big over there. And now it’s even more in their face because I have a show called Vanderpump Rules and that’s my family’s name.”

But having a platform to raise awareness about issues close to her heart has become an important part of Lisa’s “celebrity” status. “I’m very cognizant that the show has given me such a platform. I feel that when you’re a celebrity – and I do use that word loosely – and when you’re in the public eye, you have a responsibility to stand up and draw attention to things that you believe in,” she says.

In fact, Lisa negotiated with Bravo to include her charity work as a main focus of her storyline this coming season, a move Lisa said she needed after enduring the previous Season From Hell. “I was so beaten up last year. The audience has always stayed with me, so that indomitable support has really seen me through. But from the other women, that kind of haranguing and – I don’t like to use the word bullying because everybody uses that word and it’s so cliché – but just feeling totally persecuted by them, screaming at me, I just felt I couldn’t do it anymore, and I said that to Bravo.”

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And even if drama does find her again, Lisa jokes, “I’m never going to be the Housewife that’s rolling around on the floor trying to pull somebody’s weave out. That’s not who I am. I do say wildly inappropriate things I think are funny – it’s my British sense of humor – but I’m not somebody that’s going to lose their shit.”

As for her den mother role on RHOBH spinoff, Vanderpump Rules, Lisa says she’s mostly relieved to fly above that particular drama. (The cast takes care of that well enough, themselves!) “It’s just taken on a life of its own. When you get a group of people that have known each other for 10, 12 years and they work together and they live together and they date each other and all that, the stakes become much higher than when you’re orchestrating a group of people that don’t even know each other.”

Being at the helm of a successful spinoff has created feelings of jealousy among her castmates, confesses Lisa. When asked if she feels like she’s gotten the “villain edit” in the past, she explains, “Well, I think the other women have tried to do it. With the producers, they normally think that unless you’ve got something really bad – unless they catch me boiling a baby – it really isn’t going to stick. But I think that [my having another show] has probably created certain feelings over the years. I mean, a lot of opportunities have come my way, and I’ve taken them.”

Despite these opportunities, Lisa admits that it’s been tough at times to rise above the Housewives drama. “I think when the women have attacked me. That’s devastated me. I’m not a victim, but it’s been very hurtful. When they accuse you of stuff, I mean, that’s been hard. Sometimes I haven’t been able to watch it. Or when they’re lying about you, and it’s out there. But we’re lucky enough to have a production company that has integrity – I know it’s a rarity in this world—and tries to show the accurate story. And if they think somebody is bat-shit crazy and they’re accusing you of something, they’re going to show it. And luckily, the audience sees the truth.”

“After the first year, I said I wasn’t coming back. After four years, I said I wasn’t coming back. I think I’ve always said that. This year it was a really, really difficult decision. It was just not about money. It was about whether I could go through what I went through again. I didn’t think I could. And I still don’t know if I made the right decision,” Lisa continues, adding that she hopes highlighting her charity work makes it all worth it in the end.

As for the future, Lisa hopes to get into more of a production role. She shares, “I would like to actually go into producing more. We’re looking at a couple of scripted ideas. And I would like to, basically, design everything. I would like Vanderpump to be a lifestyle brand. I would like the name Vanderpump to be about every beautiful thing in life!”


Photo Credit: Tommy Garcia/Bravo