Vanderpump Rules’ James Kennedy Tells Us Why He’s King


After a tumultuous season of Vanderpump Rules, the DJ-turned reality T.V. star James Kennedy tells us how he came out on top.



JAMES KENNEDY: Hi Taylore. Nice to meet you. Does the lighting look okay?

SCARABELLI: You look fabulous. How are you feeling after last night’s finale? 

KENNEDY: It was hard-hitting. I definitely think there was a lot of emotions and it was so interesting to see [Scandoval] from everyone else’s point of view. I can’t believe that I started shedding tears in the interview space. It just came out. I got really upset about Tom [Sandoval] just because I felt so betrayed. We all lost someone important. 

SCARABELLI: I want to get into that, but first I want to start by asking you about what happened this season. You were dealing with a breakup. You got a new girlfriend. You were partying again. What’s been going on in your life between then and now?

KENNEDY: A lot, a lot. I’m just completely in love with Ally [Lewber]. We’ve both been working really hard. Going into the season with the drinking—I quit for two-and-a-half years. I was going to see if I could balance it again. And obviously my last relationship ended so I just felt like it would be better to start fresh. If I was going to quit the next time it would be for me, and not just because of this ultimatum type thing. But watching back, it was interesting. I kind of had to take a step back with the friend group, right? Because they had all picked sides. It was almost like I couldn’t be friends with everyone again, because Scheana [Shay] was best friends with [Raquel Leviss]—and Tom was obviously—and then I was worried about [Tom] Schwartz as well. It goes very deep, honestly. There’s lots of layers to the cake.

SCARABELLI: Do you feel like this scandal brought you closer with anyone?

KENNEDY: I’ve seen the highs and I’ve seen the lows with this friend group, and we’ve always been able to remain tight. We’ve been through so much. Even Scheana. Going back to season one and two, she was the one on the outskirts, and when I came in I was under her umbrella. And then there’s obviously my friendship with Lala [Kent], we’re still tight. She’s come such a long way and done so many amazing things, and obviously she’s been through such a hard time with her breakup. I just want to always be there for the real ones.

SCARABELLI: Right. Well, it is kind of weird right now because there’s a bit of a vacuum in the friend group. Is there even a group anymore? Who’s going to be the number one guy? 

KENNEDY: Of course there’s a group. I mean, as of yesterday Time magazine stated me as the number one guy, so I didn’t have to say it myself. 

SCARABELLI: But what if Jax [Taylor] comes back?

KENNEDY: I’m talking with Jax right now. We’re actually on great terms. We’ve been texting on the daily. Lots of things have changed, but then other things remain the same. I’m excited to announce I’m doing a collaborative night with him for See You Next Tuesday at SUR. It’s a full circle moment and I think it’s going to be a good night. 

SCARABELLI: That sounds fun. I want to go back to the beginning of this whole scandal and talk about some of the speculation online. People think that the reason why your relationship with Raquel didn’t work out was because of Tom. Is there any truth to that? Do you think that they were sneaking around back then?

KENNEDY: No, I don’t think that, but it was definitely something that evolved through all of them spending so much time together. Throughout the summer, last spring—I think it was them all at Coachella. They were doing the festival season together.

SCARABELLI: Do you feel like you have a role in this at all? Because part of me feels like once Raquel found out about what happened between you and Lala while you were dating—that was her joker moment. She was like, “It’s okay to cheat. This is what everyone else is doing.”

KENNEDY: I didn’t want to spend the whole interview talking about Raquel, honestly. That’s not exactly what I signed up for. So we could talk a little bit about the show and stuff like that, but I’m not just going to talk about her. 

SCARABELLI: Okay. I want to talk about Lala and Randall [Emmett] and what’s gone on between them. 

KENNEDY’S PUBLICIST: He wouldn’t really be the right person to talk about that, just since it is Lala’s relationship. 

TAYLORE SCARABELLI: Okay. How do you feel about the return of Kristen [Doute]?

JAMES KENNEDY: Actually—is this going to do any good for me, or is this going to be just an—hold on. I just don’t understand these questions.

SCARABELLI: Do you want to talk about what’s coming up for you this summer?

KENNEDY: Yeah. I’ve been doing a tour now for the last three months. And we obviously might start filming again this summer. So yeah, I’ve been doing massive shows all around the United States. I’ve been working with Tao Group, and I’m in chats with the biggest venues in Las Vegas to be DJing some pool parties. And then, obviously, I’m doing a huge post-BravoCon party. [James gets up and leaves the room]


KENNEDY: Sorry. I had to shut my window because my cat literally went on the windowsill.

SCARABELLI: Uh-oh. Do you want to talk a little bit about the reunion? It seemed like you almost got into a fistfight with Sandoval.

KENNEDY: Oh, yes. It was a very intense day, the reunion. All the emotions were so high and everyone was ready to get their point across and people wanted answers. But I definitely wasn’t expecting Tom to act the way he did that day. So that kind of caught me off guard.

SCARABELLI: How was he acting?

KENNEDY: I think Tom’s still galloping around on his horse in his magical fairyland. It’s just his whole demeanor, it doesn’t seem genuine. Even after watching last night’s finale, the way he was crying at Lisa [Vanderpump’s] house. [Laughs] Sorry to laugh. I just thought it was kind of funny.

SCARABELLI: Did you think that was an act?

KENNEDY: It’s just funny—as he gazed upon the hundred million dollar landscape or whatever it is, and the rain is pouring down. [Laughs] I think it all kind of hit him in the face. I think he realized what he’d done. He’s like, “Oh my god, oh my god.” Tom is a great actor, I will give him that. And he’s really good at playing a part. I feel like he just wanted all of us to feel bad for him, especially on the reunion day. He wouldn’t say it, but the way he was sulking made me feel that way. 

SCARABELLI: Do you feel bad for him at all?


SCARABELLI: Why were you so upset?

KENNEDY: Just because I felt so betrayed by a friend. We’ve been through so much over the years. We’ve had so many good times. It’s just sad, really.

SCARABELLI: And how do you feel about Schwartz now?

KENNEDY: Schwartz. It’s tough to say. I mean, I don’t really spend my days thinking about all of this. It’s almost like I can’t escape online, so I like to turn my phone off. I’ve been really focused on my mental health and my physical health as well. I’m in the gym every single day, eating healthy, meditating, reading books, and just trying to stay very present. But with Schwartz, I think he knows that he messed up big time. It wasn’t a good season for him. I think he’s coming to the end of his wit with the “I’m Tom’s follower” thing. I think we’re going to see a new Schwartz, and if we don’t, it could be detrimental to him and whatever he’s trying to do. 


KENNEDY: He’s been a tight part of the friend group. I know he never really worked at SUR, but he was always around at all the parties. He’s Tom’s bestie bestie, do you know what I mean? Even last year when Schwartz wasn’t really talking to Tom as much because they were so focused on the bar. They didn’t really have a social life because they were both—well, he was still married, Schwartz, and then Tom was obviously with Ariana [Madix]. So they were both very busy in their relationships. And then all of the time that they had together was work. So I was kind of Tom Sandoval’s play-friend.


KENNEDY: So it’s, “Oh, when Tom wants to play he’ll call James, but then when Tom needs to go to work, he’ll call Schwartz.” And Tom would put so much pressure on that and so much pressure on the marriage. Do I feel like Schwartz and Katie [Maloney] would’ve been together forever? Probably not. But do I think they would’ve lasted a lot longer without Sandoval in the picture? Absolutely.

SCARABELLI: Well, in that way it’s good that you didn’t get too close to Sandoval.

KENNEDY: Well, obviously in the start of the season everyone had chosen their side. Everyone didn’t want to be friends with me because they have a tight-knit group—or so they thought, right? Or so they thought.

SCARABELLI: Do you feel vindicated? 

KENNEDY: Look, I’ve been on the bottom of the food chain. To be crowned the number one guy in the group, it’s great and all, but it’s come at the time for me where I’m not going to be like, “I’m the king of the castle.” 25-year-old James would’ve been boasting about it, singing, “I’m the king of the castle on top of the hill.” But now it’s come at an expense to everyone.

SCARABELLI: So you don’t want to be the number one guy?

KENNEDY: Well, if Jax came back and he was like, “I’m the number one guy,” I wouldn’t be like, “No, I am, Jax.” I’m not going to fight him for it, but I’ve let the public speak on that. And honestly, after the Time Magazine thing yesterday, I mean, I can’t really mess with that. So take it with a grain of salt. It is what it is. Like I said on the show, “With great responsibility,”—wait, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

SCARABELLI: That’s true. Well, you’ve had so many great sound bites recently. I’d be remiss not to mention the, “Worm with a mustache,” moment during the reunion. Do you think that’s why Tom shaved his mustache on Howie Mandel?

KENNEDY: Oh, did he shave it on Howie Mandel or did he shave it after? 

SCARABELLI: He did it during the podcast. It was a live performance.

KENNEDY: Oh wow. Dang. I’ve got to go back and watch that. I didn’t get through to that part. That’s great. 

SCARABELLI: In the past you’ve gotten in so much trouble for running your mouth, but now, with Scandoval, it seems like you can say whatever you want.

KENNEDY: Well, no, I don’t think I can say whatever I want. There’s a fine line between being completely offensive to just having a joke and making a funny laugh. Let’s be real. I’ve been calling people poo poo heads since I was four years old on the playground. If you steal my toy from me I’m going to be like, “Get away from me, you poo poo head.” So it was just funny bringing back those childish sayings. I was kind of in that mode that day at the finale because Lisa was telling me off a lot and I just felt like a kid in school again. Like, “You’re going to get hit with my cane if you don’t stop talking.”

SCARABELLI: On last night’s episode it was almost like you were making a prank phone call to Raquel.

KENNEDY: I did always love a good prank phone call. [Laughs]

SCARABELLI: So, just to wrap this up, I want to ask if you think the fans have been a little too harsh on Tom and Raquel? 

KENNEDY: Honestly, I’ve tried to stay off online as much as I can. But I hope they’re both getting the help that they need. 

SCARABELLI: That’s a good answer. Okay, well it was great chatting with you. I hope I can see you DJ soon. Good luck with everything.

KENNEDY: I appreciate that a lot. Thank you so much.

SCARABELLI: Have a good day.

KENNEDY: You too.