Katie Maloney-Schwartz and Lala Kent give you an exclusive look at their RHOSLC appearance and their pre-Vanderpump Rules lives in Utah.
Lala, who was born and raised in Salt Lake City, actually ran into several old friends while attending Jen Shah's party in the episode.
"Going to Jen’s house, I show up, and it was like a reunion of all these people who I haven’t seen in years. I felt right at home," Lala shared during an exclusive interview with Bravo Insider. "I had dated one of the guy’s cousins back in high school. This girl Mariah, whose mom is really dear friends with Jen, we went to high school together. It was like a melting pot of all these people who I either went to high school with or dated their cousin or their brother. It was nostalgic, amazing."
Katie and Lala may be two of Los Angeles' most famous residents these days, but they grew up and spent their formative years in Utah long before they ever stepped foot in SUR. They were back in their home state in this episode of RHOSLC to attend the Sundance Film Festival. "Lala and Katie are Salt Lake City locals. I know Lala through a mutual friend," RHOSLC cast member Whitney Rose said in an interview during the episode. "So when I heard that they were in town for the premiere of Lala's new movie Spree, I insisted to Jen that she invite them to her party because they are so much fun."
But actually, it was the RHOSLC ladies who brought the fun that night, according to Katie, who is originally from Park City and has also lived in Salt Lake City. "They’re so much fun. As we’ve seen so far this season, they’re wild and crazy and not what I think what a lot of people were expecting to see from people from Utah," Katie said of the Salt Lake City Housewives during a separate exclusive interview with Bravo Insider. "But the party that we went to at Jen’s house — I mean, first of all, her house is insane and gorgeous. But we just had a good time. Jen got down on the dance floor. I just had a lot of fun connecting with Heather [Gay] and Whitney and kind of getting to know them a little bit."
Though Lala has maintained a sober lifestyle herself for the past two years, she also noticed that the RHOSLC cast "can freaking hang." "Even for the fact that we can’t free pour in Salt Lake, they find a way to find their lit-ness," she said. "It’s f--king awesome."
Katie said that she and Whitney formed an instant bond at Jen's party, even though it was the first time they had ever met in person. "I felt like I kind of connected with her, and she’s just very personable and was just really open," Katie said of Whitney, whom she also called "so cute and bubbly and sweet and warm." "And of course, both being from Utah, we were just talking about some funny, very specific to Utah things."
In fact, Katie has become even more of a fan of Whitney while watching this season of RHOSLC. "I really love the openness that Whitney has in talking about her marriage, how that came to be and meeting her husband. And then also with her dad and his struggles with addiction," Katie said. "I think those [are] things you can become very protective over, because you don’t always wanna put that out there for judgment and criticism. But I think Whitney’s just really confident and stands in her power and knows who she is and doesn’t make apologies for it."
Lala said that "it’s been a pleasure to watch Whitney on the show" this season. "She’s so sweet. But you watch that show, and she’s got spice to her," Lala shared. "She’s flying around that pole, she’s taking shots. I'm like, you are a girl after my own heart [laughs]."
Also becoming fast friends that night were Lala and Jen. "I felt like I had known her for years. Like the second I walked in, she just made you feel like you were welcome. Her hospitality was incredible," Lala said of Jen. "But that’s just Utah for you. It’s rare that I’ve gone to a place where you’re brand new to the group, and you haven’t been welcomed with open arms. So meeting her, I felt like we just clicked. She sent me a baby gift already, little onesies. I love her."
Jen's showcasing of her Tongan and Hawaiian culture on the show is another thing Lala admires about the Salt Lake City Housewife. "I loved growing up in Utah because of, well, many reasons, but the Polynesian heritage and culture that comes along with growing up in Utah," Lala said.
At Jen's party on RHOSLC, Katie and Lala soon got to talking to Heather, and they didn't hesitate to encourage her to get back into the dating game following her divorce. "Katie and I were there to be like, you’re single, and it’s OK to go out and date someone. And if you want to hook up with them, you’re also a grown-up, so you can do that, too. And no one’s going to judge you for it," Lala said. "And I think we were successful, you guys. She was really into this guy, and I think they left together — and he was hot."
"I think Heather’s gorgeous, she’s successful. Why shouldn’t she have some fun, even if it’s nothing serious?" Katie also shared, adding that she hoped Heather could feel free to "figure out what you want next" and that she would not be "scared to go after it."
RHOSLC has "easily" become one of Katie's favorite Real Housewives franchises. But then again, having grown up in Utah, she knew that the ladies of Salt Lake City would bring it.
"I was just so excited. Like, this is gonna be crazy," Katie said of hearing that Salt Lake City would be the next Real Housewives franchise after it was first announced at BravoCon 2019. "People, I think, already have an idea in their head of what Utah’s like and [what] the people are like there, but I think they’re gonna be totally shocked to find out that it’s not everything they imagined it would be. Even before I knew who any of the women that were gonna be on the show were, I just thought it was gonna be so good and definitely be a different backdrop than what we’ve seen."
Katie, who has lived in L.A. since 2006, said that watching RHOSLC transports her back home every week. "Especially when they’re showing just shots of the mountains, and then I’ll see Main Street in Park City, and I’ll be like, 'Oh my god, I know that,'" she shared. "I do get a little homesick or melancholy, and I’ll be like, 'I wanna go there.' It definitely makes me jealous that I’m not there."
Utah was "a great place to grow up," according to Katie. "It was amazing, and especially in hindsight, looking back, I could see how fortunate I was to grow up in such a beautiful place," she said. "Park City, where I was born and raised, it was so much smaller back then. It’s grown so much, but we were just able to kind of run around the city. There was a city bus that ran free throughout the whole city, so me and my friends would hop on and go to Main Street."
Lala, who moved from Salt Lake City to L.A. about seven years ago, said that she has also come to appreciate Utah's sense of community and emphasis on family.
"I talk to my stepkids about this all the time, because I feel so terrible, but I'm like, it’s so cool that they get to grow up in L.A., but my childhood growing up [in Utah], it was just like, you felt safe. Everyone knew their neighbors and talked to their neighbors. We would drive around the neighborhood and give out our Christmas gifts to each family. We walked to and from school. I didn't appreciate it when I lived there, but now looking back I'm like, I couldn’t have picked a better place," Lala said. "That was the perfect place to grow up because there wasn’t a lot happening, it was very mellow. It was more of a ski town. I grew up 30 minutes down from Park City, so it was just very much, we were in nature. And there wasn’t a lot of time or opportunity to get into a lot of trouble. So for me, it was the perfect situation. I loved growing up there. I wish that I had a place like that to raise my future child."
As we've seen on RHOSLC this season, Mormonism can play a big role in the lives of many people in Utah, whether they are members of the Church or not. "I have never been Mormon, [but] just growing up there, you do learn a lot about the Church and kind of their beliefs and how they sort of operate," Katie said. "It is the Mormon capital, so even if you aren’t a member of the Church, you are aware or affected by it."
When she lived in Salt Lake City, Katie recalled getting to know people who considered themselves "Jack Mormons" and didn't observe the religion as strictly, doing things like consuming alcohol and caffeine.
"My experience with Mormons is that they’ve always been really nice and warm people," Katie recalled. "I had an ex-boyfriend, and he wasn't so much involved in the Church, but his family was, and on Sundays, they have what they call home teachers where they’ll come over and do a lesson for life, whether it’s about relationships or something. And you just have lunch with them and talk. So, I definitely participated in that a couple times just to, you know, please the parents."
Katie moved from her hometown of Park City to Salt Lake City after high school. "I did one semester at the University of Utah, and so I lived in the dorms for that time, and then I ended up moving out," she said. "I decided not to continue with school, and so I would just get roommates and live in a couple different places around Salt Lake."
Living in Salt Lake City was something of a stepping stone to L.A. for Katie. "I feel like I kinda always wanted to move [to L.A.] at some point," she said. "But I felt like out of high school, going from a small mountain town where I was from to a place like L.A., I think I needed just to kind of stay a little close to home and get a little real-life experience on my own before I moved out to one of the biggest cities."
Katie said that she has fond memories of going hiking, mountain biking, and swimming in the summer. But, of course, there's nothing like Utah in the winter — although Katie admitted that she didn't participate in one of the most beloved activities. "I never learned how to downhill ski, which is so sacrilegious there. But I did learn how to snowboard in high school, and I was pretty decent at it. I liked going to the ice rink and doing cross-country skiing, ‘cause I’m, you know, a 75-year-old at heart," she said. "But we just had so much available to us, and it’s just such a beautiful place."
The prevalence of winter sports in Utah is something that Katie's husband, Tom Schwartz, has also appreciated when he has accompanied her on visits back home. "We’ve been there several times together. He loves it, ‘cause he really loves to snowboard, and it’s the greatest snow on Earth. So he likes it when we’re able to get out there in the wintertime," Katie shared. "He definitely digs the vibe there. It definitely still has the small-town feeling, and going out on Main Street to the bars and restaurants there, it’s a good time."
It didn't take long into her relationship with Randall Emmett for Lala to show her now-fiancé around her neck of the woods. "Actually, I took him to Utah, like, three weeks into us dating, to show him where I come from and my childhood house. So we go back — obviously before the pandemic — but we would go every year for Sundance. And my mom worked for the Humane Society of Utah, so for the past five years, we fly back for the gala every year."
Of course, as a movie producer, Randall is no stranger to Utah. "He’s been going to Sundance since I was like 5," Lala said.
However, there was something special about showing Randall her Utah. "It was so sweet because I have such fond memories growing up there. I mean, I'm sure he looked at me like, 'Oh my gosh, you’re like a crazy person,' because he’s from Miami, so it’s like lively and a very different vibe than where I'm from,where we’re more low key," Lala joked. "But I loved showing him."
Katie also recalled showing Tom and other members of the Vanderpump Rules crew her home state during her 30th birthday trip to Sundance. "It’s always fun to bring your friends to the place you grew up," she said. "It’s fun to be able to show people, this is where I went to high school, and this is the house I grew up in. I think they can just get a better sense of what your life was like before they met you and the things that you did and be able to enjoy those things together."
Since leaving Utah, both Katie and Lala said they usually go back to visit a few times a year to see friends and family still living in the state. "I feel like my life is different, and I have a home and a family in L.A. But every time I land I'm like, oh, a piece of my heart is back, for sure. I get grounded again," Lala said. "It’s easy to start living in the clouds when you’re in L.A. for too long."
Though she said she misses how "quiet and serene" it is in Utah compared to her life in California, Katie said that L.A. feels more like "home now." "I would always notice the minute I got off the plane in that airport [in Utah], it just had an entirely different energy to it. And so, I’ll miss that," Katie explained. "But then after a few days of that, I’m like, OK, I feel like I need a little more chaos in my life."
"But of course, I miss my family there, and I miss the memories a lot, but it’s just a special little place," Katie added. "I’m really happy whenever I can go back and just feel connected to my roots."
Katie said that she has even "thought about" moving back to Utah one day.
"Even when I was younger, I was like, I could see myself one day moving back here, but I don’t know. I really love living in California. The weather, I mean, it’s really hard. It’s fun to go visit the snow, but when you’re just doing day-to-day and you’re having to deal with the snow and driving in the snow and the plows haven’t come, you know, shoveling your car out, and boots and hats and all that, that gets old after a while, just because the winters can be long there," Katie said. "So, I mean, I would like to be able to spend more time there, whether it be to have a second home there. It was such a great place to raise kids. So, who really knows? I’m definitely still open to that idea, but not any time super soon. I don’t know. That could change."
Lala said that she has considered having a home in Utah as well. "I don't think I would move back fully. But I am looking in Park City to buy a second home because I really want to spend Christmases there. I felt like growing up, I was in a Christmas movie because it was the snow and just the spirit of every holiday that happens in Utah," she shared. "It’s a different mindset out there."
She also said that she appreciates how substantive life seems back in her home state. "When I am there, and I go to visit my mom, or I go to visit my friends who are moms, it’s real life. And there’s something about real life that just makes you feel excited, that you get brought back to the important things," she explained. "The hustle slows down, and you don't think about the next episode of the show that you’re on or whatever it may be that we’re working on. It’s like, you’re living in the moment. And I will say that’s what I gain, and that’s what I miss, and that’s what I love being around when I go back."
For now, Katie and Lala are happy to see their home state represented on RHOSLC. "I just commend them for having their first season. You know, usually it can be very intimidating, and I feel like they wore their hearts on their sleeves. Even though you may be team one or the other, every single person on that show has an interesting story," Lala said of the RHOSLC cast. "They all have their little quirks and their hot messes in some areas and fabulous in others."
They have also welcomed their fellow Utahns to Bravo by imparting some wisdom from their own experiences in the spotlight. "My advice was really you’re not gonna win everybody over. There’s gonna be a lot of people who have a lot of really negative, horrific things to say to you," Lala shared. "I know it’s real life, but you have to be able to separate yourself from what goes on TV. Otherwise, you’ll drive yourself insane."
"It’s really fun when it starts. And then it starts airing, and you’re like, 'Holy s--t. I really divulged a lot,'" Lala continued. "I think they’re doing an awesome job as human beings and sharing their lives. I'm finding all the joy in the world watching it."
Katie noted, "There’s no manual on how to be on a reality TV show, whether it’s Housewives, Vanderpump Rules." However, she advised Whitney, "You just have to say what you mean, know what you say, be open, be honest, stick up for yourself. [I said] that things are gonna get crazy and to just try to maintain and know who you are and everything."
When it comes to sharing your life with the world on TV, you just have to take the good with the bad, according to Katie. "When the show airs and you have your real life out there, there will be criticism. There will be haters or trolls," she said. "But there will also be people that are gonna love and identify with [you]. You gotta just kind of roll with the punches."
Want more RHOSLC? New episodes air every Wednesday at 10/9c or catch up on this season through the Bravo app.