Interview: STL Native Tom Sandoval of 'Vanderpump Rules' Talks Life in Reality TV

By Katlyn Moncada
In Culture
Photo courtesy of Bravo Media LLC.

Photo courtesy of Bravo Media LLC.

Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” star Tom Sandoval, originally from the Florissant/Hazelwood area of St. Louis and graduate of Hazelwood West, started his career by moving around a lot. In Chicago, New York and Miami, Tom was seen earlier in his modeling and acting career by appearing in indie films and Bon Jovi music videos like “All About Lovin’ You,” before settling in Los Angeles.

Currently seen every Monday night on “Vanderpump Rules,” Tom works as a bartender at Beverly Hills housewife Lisa Vanderpump’s SUR Restaurant and Bar. Tom came home to visit for the holidays and stopped by ALIVE to catch us up on his life behind the cameras in California.

ALIVE: What do you do while you’re in town?
TS: My friend usually takes me around to places like The Pepper Lounge and I will hang out with my family. A lot of us are musicians, so we will get together and jam out.

ALIVE: How did you end up in L.A. and get your start in acting there?
TS: I’ve been out there for about seven years roughly. I did some movies out there. I did some made-for-TV movies. I did an indie that won Best Feature in the Canada International Film Festival. And that one had Kristen in it; it was called “Behind Your Eyes.” Me and Kristen actually shot a movie here (St. Louis) called “23 Minutes to Sunrise” with Eric Roberts and Nia Peeples. That was a great little movie.

ALIVE: So, are you still dating Kristen?
TS: We’re working on things. You guys will see it.

ALIVE: You’re also an aspiring musician. Are you working on anything?
TS: I’m doing my own solo project now called “Naked Eye” with a guy named James Kennedy; he’s a great producer. It’s sort of an Imagine Dragons kind of duo. Like, is it rock? Is it dance?

ALIVE: How is the show set up?
TS: This isn’t a show that is casted. There are not hundreds of people placed at this restaurant. We’ve all been friends, most of us for five or more years.

ALIVE: How did you get involved with this show?
TS: I started out at (Lisa Vanderpump’s) Villa Blanca. Kristen has worked for Lisa for like six years. I moved over to SUR before we shot the first season.

ALIVE: When was the current season filmed?
TS: It’s been roughly six months. I probably have one more round of behind-the-scenes interviews, which we do while things are taking place. But when they decide what they want to show, then we come back in and talk about it again.

ALIVE: There’s a lot of drama going on all time time between the cast. Is the show scripted?
TS: No, it’s not at all. It’s too real. It actually sucks how real it is. We are all really close. For instance, you can look at my Facebook and see photos of us doing stuff together; we all hang out together all the time. It’s kind of that thin line between love and hate. If I don’t know you, how could I really hurt or affect you? That’s why I feel like our show is so much more intense—because of our relationships. When I first signed up for this, I did it to inspire people; to show them what it’s like to aspire to be out in L.A. and take it to the next level, to do acting and music.

ALIVE: Has SUR’s business increased due to the show?
TS: Oh my gosh it’s crazy. I take 30 to 40 photos per night (with fans) while I’m there. It’s insane.

ALIVE: How is Lisa Vanderpump?
TS: I have a lot of respect for Lisa. Great businesswoman. Exudes power and confidence. I look up to her and Ken in a lot of ways. Her energy comes across in person the same way as it does on TV.

ALIVE: How many hours a day are you being filmed?
TS: We could probably fill an entire season with two days. But we’re being filmed for four months.

ALIVE: How do you deal with all the drama in the show?
TS: I hate the drama. I don’t like being in the middle of it. You can see talking to me as a person right now versus the show. I get this nauseous feeling and I want to close up. It’s hard to deal with.

ALIVE: Would you do the show again after all the drama this year?
TS: Yes, I actually would. I feel like I’ve been through hell and back. I feel like I’ve become stronger because of it.

ALIVE: Any scoop you can share for what the rest of this season has in store?
TS: You have no idea. This is the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to be talked about a lot and not just on Bravo. It blows my mind. If you have any doubt in your mind if this show is scripted, by the end of the season, you won’t have a doubt.

Sandoval said the cast is still dealing with the aftermath of things that have occurred this year. Viewers will have to wait and see how the show will pan out. You can see Sandoval’s interview with fellow St. Louisan Andy Cohen on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens: Live” Jan’ 13. Until then, be sure to catch up with “Vanderpump Rules” on Mondays at 8pm CST.

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