After her engagement broke off, reality star Lala Kent hiked Benedict Canyon seeking solace from a sage.
It's been a month since thenThe Los Angeles Times published an investigation into her ex-boyfriend, film producer Randall Emmett, alleging that he used women, assistants and business partners, which he denied.
Now the cameras are back rolling on season 10 of Bravo's reality show "Vanderpump Rules" and the drama surrounding Kent is on the screen. The show's producers told her that Lisa Vanderpump, the show's main character, wanted to talk.
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Kent arrived at Villa Rosa, Vanderpub's $11.9 million Beverly Hills home, where swans, miniature horses and rescue dogs roam the grounds. Moments after sitting down in the sunny white marble kitchen, Vanderpump began asking him how much he knew about Emmett's alleged misconduct.
"If you're being completely honest, you should have known something was up," Vanderpump said in a scene that aired later on the show. You are smarter than that. I don't think you want to see it.
Something Kent didn't want to hear as his personal life unravels in a sea of scandals.
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The 32-year-old former model is the lodestar of one of the most popular shows on television. Over the past seven seasons, millions of Bravo viewers have seen the details of Kent's life — drunken rants, insults to cast members and public declarations of love for Emmett followed by humiliating accusations of infidelity — fuel the investigation. of the Times. and a 90-minute documentary streamed on Hulu.
Vanderpump's harsh questioning of Kent last July was in stark contrast to this spring's outpouring of love for his "Vanderpump Rules" co-star Ariana Madix. In March, Maddix discovered that her partner of nine years, Tom Sandoval, had been having a seven-month affair with one of Maddix's closest friends, Raquel Lewis, also a cast member.
"Scandal",as fans recognized it, it rocked the Bravo universe. The network struggled to start filming in the off-season to capture the tensions, a decision that paid off as more than 3 million viewers tuned in for the final episodes.
MadixShe found an army of support from viewers and cast members who brought flowers, wine and healing crystals to the Valley Village home she and Sandoval still restlessly share. The 37-year-old won a role in a Lifetime movie and a spot on the upcoming season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Bloomingdale's and Bic razors signed advertising deals with her.
But Kent and his record of betrayals did not generate similar support.
"Maybe I should have known that I wasn't going to get picked up by a guy like that," Sandoval said on the show.
Raquel Gates, a professor of film and media studies at Columbia University, suggested that troubling cultural cues may help explain why audiences turn to Maddix but view Kent with skepticism.
"Women have to be 'perfect' victims to get sympathy," Gates said.
With his sharp tongue and pride in taking no prisoners, Kent falls short of this standard. Ever since she appeared on "Vanderpump Rules" in 2015, Kent has been considered a "villainous diva," according to her childhood friend Madison Riley. Kent described herself as "Michael Vick's fighting dog", labeling her teammates with chosen nicknames such as "Bambi-eyed b...", "barking Chihuahua" and "nerd personified".
She joined the show, which began as a spin-off of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in season 4. She was hired as a hostess at SUR, a trendy Vanderpump restaurant in West Hollywood whose staff were the stars of the show. During her first week on the job, Kent tried to beg her job to go abroad with a rich man. She soon met another apparently wealthy man, Emmett, and later bragged to another cast member of hers that after "the first night we fucked, I got a car the next day." (It was a white Range Rover.)
"It's one of the many things Lala said on the show for surprise value," Emmett said in a statement.
The producer, who was 44 years old at the time, was still married to the actoramber children. Kent, then 25, always insisted that Emmett tell him that he and his wife were separating, but Emmett said in a statement: "Lala knew about my situation with Abeer."
The situation gave the impression that Kent was a gold prospector who robbed people.
"Seeing a beautiful young girl and an older man who's out of shape, people assume the worst," said Scheana Shay, Kent's closest Vanderpump Rules co-star.
Vanderpump said that some fans disapproved of Kent due to the circumstances of the relationship. "At first it was a mystery because Randall was at this wedding and he was divorced, it was all a bit complicated," Vanderpub said in an interview.
"Sometimes she had vulnerabilities that she struggled with, I wouldn't say it was a public humiliation because I think she won," Vanderpump said of the split. "Of course he was a victim."
Kent is well aware that not everyone believes that she has been wronged.
"If I had heard the story, I wouldn't have believed it," he admitted in an interview with The Times. "I understand. I know visually. I know how the outside world sees me."
Last month, she sat in her West Hollywood office, surrounded by her growing product lines. She has long sold makeup, toiletries, books and baby clothes under the #GiveThemLala umbrella, but this spring she began selling products decorated with"Send it to Darrell"a password that went viral after Kent demanded in an online parody that Leviss send any legal documents to his lawyer, Darrell Miller.
Kent is working to grow his business, donning a black hoodie that reads "Send it to Darrell" during the season finale, as he finds himself in a contentious custody battle over his 2-year-old daughter Ocean, whom Share with Emmett. He was also trying to forge a new identity. after a disastrous relationship with a producer.
It's the subject of a new documentary coming out this week from ABC News Studios and LA Times Studios,"The Randall Scandal: Love, Loathing, and Vanderpump".The film explores Emmett's fall from grace in Hollywood through interviews with former aides and colleagues in the film industry whoto criticize the use of Bruce Willis when the star was in the early stages of dementia.
Emmett had previously said that he was unaware of Willis's declining health.
In his statement, Emmett said he refused to be involved in the documentary, calling it "nothing more than a vengeful blockbuster, a regurgitation of a biased article, and a cheap attempt to capitalize on the current Vanderpump Rules fever." (In a statement, newspaper spokeswoman Hilary Manning said, "The Los Angeles Times stands by its reporting on Randall Emmett.")
Kent denied Emmett's claims.
"If there was nothing to write and no story to tell... there would be no documentary," Kent said. “I can't pick up the phone and tell the LA Times to write an article. I don't have that power."
Backed by "Scandoval," Bravo's decade-long show took on new cultural significance. The main cast, who started out at SUR as a waiter in their twenties, are now approaching middle age and growing apart. Without the band serving up Goat Cheese Balls and Pumptini at SOUTH, it often seemed the producers struggled to find reasons to reunite the cast.
But the latest drama changed that.
"This season of Vanderpump Rules is the ultimate reward for viewers who have been there since day one," said Gates, a devoted fan of the show. “This is such an exciting time for reality TV, a form of media that has always been talked about in such derisive terms. This show has been in the news."
Kent never considered himself a reality star.
Growing up in the affluent suburbs of Salt Lake City, Lauren Elyse Burningham was a daddy's girl who devoured episodes of Friends and Seinfeld and had big dreams of becoming a famous actress. (Kent was the name of her late father).
Critics used her upper-middle-class upbringing to accuse her of being a vulgar fake pretending to be a street fighter. She is sometimes derogatorily referred to as "Lauren from Utah" online.
Kent doesn't care about the nickname. "This is the girl I am when the cameras zoom out," she said.
It was her younger brother, Easton, who first named her Lala. She was young then and couldn't pronounce Lauren.
"Lala became my armor," Kent said. "I realized that this world would eat me alive if I didn't go in with some kind of shield."
Old friends and colleagues say Lala's facade prevents those outside her inner circle from seeing her vulnerable side.
“He really values safety. It's always been like that,” said Riley, her childhood friend. "She wants a safe house to go to...all she's doing is building this shelter for herself."
When he arrived in Los Angeles almost ten years ago, Kent worked as an applied model. She tried on clothes for brands that used her body in photos where her head was cut off. In his spare time, he spent time at SUR, the West Hollywood restaurant owned by Vanderpump, where Riley and his sister worked.
Concerns about Bruce Willis' declining cognitive state have swirled on the scene in recent years.
In interviews with the Times this month, nearly two dozen people who were on set with the actor expressed concern for Willis' well-being.
Vanderpump took notice of her and offered her a job hosting, which meant a spot on a reality show.
"From the moment we saw Lala, we knew she was one," said Alex Baskin, the executive producer behind Vanderpump Rules. After the producers first sent him permission to appear for an autograph in 2015, he said Kent emailed the lawyer back: "Hey girl, I just checked."
“It was rough around the edges,” Baskin said.
She said that it was at the restaurant's hostess position that Emmett was first introduced to Kent.
"This guy comes up to me and says, 'My boss is a movie producer and he'd love to put you in a movie,'" Kent said. She gave him her Instagram username and went back to sit at the tables. Emmett denied sending her assistant to introduce herself.
The next day, Emmett contacted him, Kent said. She looked him up and was impressed that she had worked with big movie stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sylvester Stallone. Emmett made the movies his dad rented from Redbox every weekend in Utah: "Random Bruce Willis action movies no one's ever heard of," he said.
It felt like the stars were aligned. During her first auditions in Los Angeles, casting directors urged her to increase her following on social media. She made "Vanderpump Rules" hoping that the reality show could boost her numbers, and now a movie producer wanted to work with her.
“This guy recognizes me from the show and wants to put me in a movie when he hasn't seen my talent at all,” Kent said. “It must be because my name is known. I am someone.
She stopped, her lips trembling.
"Looking back, of course I would have said to myself, 'Run away,'" she said through tears. “I wish I could go back and protect that version of myself. I was Randall Emmett's main victim.
Emmett said: "To be honest, looking back, I consider myself the main victim of Lala Kent. They took full advantage of me and used me for the plot of the show. "
Kent didn't have a manager yet, so he asked a representative who worked with some of the "Vanderpump" cast members to help set up the meeting. Soon, the couple headed to Emmett's office on Wilshire Avenue to discuss Kent's role in "The Row," a slasher film about a group of brothers hunted by a mysterious killer.
The conversation went so well that the three of them had lunch together at Mr. Chow for more details. Emmett asked for Kent's address to send him a new draft of the script.
Suddenly, expensive gifts began to fall on his house. Chanel bag. Christian Louboutin shoes. The notes were never included in the deliveries, just a text from Emmett alerting Kent that the Uber driver had something for her. She was thrilled with the generous gifts, luxuries that she, living in a $900-a-month Miracle Mile apartment, could not afford on her own. Emmett also sent more personalized gifts: shots of Tito's vodka, her favorite drink, or a box of Tamiflu when she found out she was sick.
"I lived with my parents until I was 23, so I never went to the doctor or got a prescription myself" he said. "And here is the person who took care of me."
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"Throughout the relationship, I have supported Lala and her family financially," Emmett said of the gifts.
No one suggested that he could ignore the red flags until Emmett invited Kent on a trip to New York in February 2016.
"You're not going with him at all," her mother said, advising her daughter to keep her personal life separate from her professional life. But when her appearance on Bravo TV coincided with Emmett's visit to town, Kent called him.
In New York, Kent is surprised by his attraction to Emmett. he wasn't her type and he was two decades older than her. But he had a lovely confidence, a playful energy, always ready to have fun. So, during dinner at Tao, she put her hand on his leg to show interest. She said that she was also drunk and had a toxic relationship with alcohol at the time. she said that she has been sober since 2018.
The next night they both slept together. She was surprisingly comfortable in the hotel room, even after removing her makeup.
"He was like, 'Wow, you really are the most beautiful person I've ever seen in my life,'" she said. “I felt like he was looking at me and not the person on TV. I thought, "Wow, we're soul mates." I'll be with someone who has their own business. I'm on a TV show. We could potentially be a power couple."
In the months that followed, the couple traveled extensively by private jet. He gave her a promise ring and began paying her $2,400 a month for an apartment in the complex where the stars of MTV's "The Hills" once lived.
The case caused problems for Vanderpump's producers, as Emmett initially refused to appear on camera.
"It was a tense moment," Baskin said. "We need the contestants to be completely open about their lives and it was wrong to set different rules for different contestants on the show."
emmet said yes"He didn't want to be on the show.”and he only did it to "be a good partner and support" Kent in continuing to be a main character in the series.
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It was a difficult time.
“She was lost before,” Vanderpump said. “She was very difficult to work with, very unreliable. She wouldn't show up.
Vanderpump said she was beginning to question Kent's suitability for a reality show.
"I sat her down and said, 'You're not going to run. You have to turn it around,' Vanderpump said. "I always believed in Lala."
Despite confessing her love for Emmett on screen, Kent said that cracks were beginning to appear in her relationship with Emmett. There were frequent business trips and fights. She said that she was always on the phone.
"When you're in the public eye, you really want to make it work," Riley said.
Having moved into his Holmby Hills mansion on Mulholland Drive, a 4,276-square-foot home currently listing for $4.75 million, $1.5 million less than it was listed for a year ago,Kent began to worry about his fiancé's finances.. When the sewer line had to be replaced, she said he asked her to cover the $18,000 bill.
"I just thought he was pretending to have more money than he really did," he said.
Emmett questioned the cost to repair the plumbing and said it was $5,800. But he admitted that Kent footed the bill "as a surprise 'thank you' for all I've done for her financially."
However, when she became pregnant by Osian, Kent said their relationship deteriorated further. In March 2021, she went into labor. At the hospital, she was put in an IV and she passed out. she said that after she recovered, Emmett told her that it looked like it was "an exorcism site." Kent said she was so uncomfortable that she arranged for her mother, Lisa Burningham, to fly immediately from Utah to Los Angeles to take her place. She rented a hospital room, where she went to sleep after the attendant handed her the fireball, the NyQuil, and the sheets.
At 6:45 a.m., Kent was ready to deliver Ocean. Burningham told The Times that he woke up Emmett, who witnessed the birth, and then left the hospital at 8 a.m. She did not return to the hospital until Kent was released the next day, she said.
Emmett denies this account: "Ossian's birth was one of the highlights of my life, and I was there every second of it."
Tensions remained high at home in Mulholland. After days of insisting on breastfeeding, Kent snapped.
"Watch your mouth." I'm still the same p- you met me when I was 25,” she told him, with Ocean still on his chest.
Moments later, she said, Emmett found her and apologized.
"Wow," he told her. "It was so hot".
Emmett denied making the comment. "I would never consider language as offensive as 'hot,'" he said.
"To this day, I look at myself and think, 'How the hell did you stay?' Kent said, "I want to shake off."
By October 2021, Kent knew that their relationship was over. While Emmett was filming in Alabama, one of her friends alerted her to the photos circulating on the Internet. The photos showed Emmett in Nashville with two young women.
Kent, at home in Los Angeles with his young daughter, was devastated. Emmett turned, Kent grabbed the phone from him and they wrestled as he tried to grab it. Emmett denied that there was a physical altercation.
Even Vanderpump has admitted to falling for Emmett, she said, noting that she welcomed him to Villa Rosa after her breakup with Kent.
"I made him sit in my house and cry in my living room telling me how much he loved Lala," she said. “I think Lala idealized her relationship with Randall and, of course, led her down the garden path. ... I sat there and bought it, and I'm pretty smart."
Emmett denies abusing Kent and says he was disappointed that she "chose to go down this poisonous path of anger and hate, slandering the father of her child."
“During our relationship, I treated Lala like a queen. I was incredibly generous to her both emotionally and financially," Emmett said. “Like any couple, we've had moments that were great and moments that weren't so great. Looking back, I think it's safe to say that we're both sorry.
Kent is still figuring out how the relationship affected his self-esteem. She no longer seeks acting roles because she doesn't believe the industry takes her seriously as an artist. While she was with Emmett, she appeared in six of his movies, sharing screen time with movie stars like Willis and Al Pacino. At that moment she felt that she deserved these roles.
"Now it's like, 'They were right. I just slept with the right guy,'" she said. "It's going to take me a while to go back and say, 'Did I have talent? “So far, working with these legends has been incredible. But now it just looks dirty."
Watching Vanderpump Rules is also liberating for her. Why was she asked about the missing red flags, and not about Madix?
"My heart breaks for Ariana and I love that everyone has supported her," he said. “But then I think about the people who said they expected her to donate some of my money from the sale of Send It to Darrell for her legal fees. I'm about to spend a million dollars in a custody battle."
For the past 18 months, Kent has tried to limit the amount of time Osian spends with his father. She also became close with a former nemesis, the ex-wife of Emmett Childers, who also went to court to renegotiate the terms of Emmett's custody agreement for her two daughters.
Kent's custody quest inspired her to use her fame to become an advocate for others fighting the system to protect their children. She became involved with One Mom's Battle, a group that helps parents resolve custody disputes.He recently joined them in a demonstration outside the Los Angeles County courthouse..
"There are so many things that are broken and I need to be a voice on that," she said.
People close to Kent say they have watched her grow from growing up, struggling with the loss of her father, becoming a mother, leaving Emmett and having a custody battle.
"We've watched her grow from that badass 'Lauren from Utah' who moved here thinking she was smarter than she was and acting like she was tougher than she was," Baskin said. "She developed a sense of responsibility, and a very strong one."
Viewers saw that Kent was the one constantly asking questions about whether Sandoval was cheating, long before "Scandoval" became a household term.
"It was validation for her," Baskin said.
Kent hopes to participate in the eleventh season of the show, which has just been greenlit by Bravo. But he's also focusing on life after "Vanderpump," recording a weekly podcast and signing with energy agency CAA.
"I think the thing that makes me happiest is getting to know myself again," Kent said. “For a long time I lived in a fog: How did I become someone I don't know? What happened to the girl from Utah? I feel free."