The 'Vanderpump Rules' star's new collection of essays, 'Give Them Lala,' tracks her journey from Lauren Burningham to Lala Kent.
Lala Kent is literally closing her last chapter. The outspoken Vanderpump Rules star is leaving the past behind with a new book, her memoir, Give Them Lala. While it might seem odd for a 30-year-old to pen an autobiography, for Lala, it was necessary.
"I want to say that my life story so far was so interesting that I had to share it with people, but it was more of me needing to release things that had happened to me, stories that for me were life changing and defining, but that were affecting me every single day," Lala shares with ET of the book’s origins, speaking over video chat. "I just found myself feeling like I had a scarlet letter on me and walking into rooms up until really recently where it was like, ‘Hi, I'm Lala and, by the way, this is how [Randall Emmett] and I really got together…’ and, ‘This is what really happened....’ And it was like, it's time to purge and move on from this."
"These things happened, but I'm not going to let them weigh on me every day," she adds, "It was perfect timing, because I purged and now I'm in a whole different realm of life becoming a mom, and I can now move forward with motherhood with not a clean slate, but just feeling more light."
Give Them Lala tracks the journey from Lauren Burningham to Lauryn Burningham to Lauryn Kent to Lala Kent, the number of personas Lala's taken on over the years. She's sometimes all four women wrapped into one, at other times just one.
“I feel like it's something that I fall into without even knowing that I fall into it,” she admits of passing between her different identities. Lauren is family-oriented, Lauryn is the actress with a dream of stardom and Lala is the “warrior” personality she pulls out to face the harsh truths of the world.
"Lala comes out when a camera turns on and it still is me," she notes, "but it's almost this version where I can protect myself a bit -- and it may just be in my head, but I don't care -- because I feel protected by Lala. She's super bad-ass. And I don't know, if it helps me navigate through this crazy life of being vulnerable, but not too much to where I'm affected and feel like I want to run away and hide, then that's what it is. And I actually encourage everyone to have a little alter ego."
For those who are curious, Lala switched from Lauren (pronounced la-ren) to Lauryn to make her name more memorable when auditioning, then swapped her legal last name for her dad's first name, Kent, which proved easier for people to spell than Burningham. "Lala" was her childhood nickname, which her friends from home used to introduce Lala when she moved to Los Angeles, meaning more people in California knew her as Lala than Lauren/Lauryn.
Give Them Lala gives readers who only know Lala through the lens of reality TV or Instagram the chance to learn about her life before fame and tabloid attention took over, and that means sharing vulnerable stories that Lauren may never have let out into the world, like the abortion she opted to get when she was 22.
"The thing that I went back and forth with, do I write about this? Do I not? Is the abortion chapter," Lala admits. "It's just a conversation that, for me, amongst my friends, we all have the same outlook on that topic, but not everyone else does. And I ping-ponged back and forth and finally it was like, this is something that needs to be spoken about. And I feel like we are where we are in this world because people are so nervous to talk about things that make them uncomfortable. So we're mentioning it, we're talking about it and people can love it, hate it, or learn something from it. It is what it is."
Lala had an unexpected pregnancy with an ex-boyfriend, and decided to terminate it when she realized she wasn’t ready to be a mother at 22. Her mother endorsed the idea, telling Lala, "I would do if I were you."
"It was not the right situation to bring an innocent life into," Lala recalls, as at the time she was a struggling actress who spent a lot of her free time partying and dating around, living between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. "And people may try to cancel everything that I try to do, they may label me as a ‘murderer’ because people love to throw that word out. It's an uncomfortable topic, people have very strong opinions about it, but like I said, it happened whether I wanted it to or not. It is what it is."
"I'm still nervous for people to read that chapter," she confesses. "But at the end of the day, this happened, it's not something I'm proud of. I didn't share it because I'm proud of it. I shared it because it needs to be spoken about, and I'm not the only one that's had to face that decision. And also it's not black or white. It's such a gray topic, which is what makes it so hard to discuss."
Lala says she did not give the man who impregnated her a heads up that the story was in the book, quickly cracking, "You couldn't even answer the phone when I was going through it, you think all these years later I'm going to give you a heads up? No." She did, however, give her mom Lisa a warning about it: "I've told her, 'I do mention you in the abortion chapter and I don't want you being harassed.' People can harass me all day long, do not f**k with my mom. So, I just gave her the heads up like, ‘Ignore people.’"
Lala didn’t let anyone close to her read the book, especially not her fiancé Randall, who she feared might want her to soften some of the tougher stories Lala opted to share, including her battle with alcoholism. Lala is now more than two years sober, but she reveals in the book she nearly lost Randall on the journey there.
"It was really hard for me to talk about the things I did when I was drunk," she says. "It was being taken out on my fiancé, my mom, and so I think writing down stories that happened, like the police coming to my hotel room, or throwing [Randall’s] things off 17 stories, those things were mortifying for me to write about. It's one thing to talk about it, but when you're writing it down, it's a lot."
A big reveal in the book is that, on the eve of getting sober, Randall penned a breakup letter for Lala, but never gave it to her. The pair held onto the note, though, in case Lala wanted to read it with literal sober eyes. She opted to burn it instead.
"There are some things that I don't need to relive," she says. "I know how they happened and I didn't feel like I needed to know the contents of that letter. It was like, let's just burn it, release it, and thank God that you never had to give it to me."
"I learned that I'm really bad at being vulnerable and taking criticism," Lala adds of the whole book-writing process. "I'm even still working on it to where if someone has an issue with me, I can tell them that they hurt me without just slinging insults at them. As I was writing down everything that I also have done to people, it was like it so easily could have been avoided if… the drink definitely elevated everything."
Lala is proud of finally getting to share her love story with Randall from A to Z in the Give Them Lala. The two got together while Randall was still legally married to his ex-wife, leaving the stink of "home-wrecking" and "affair" on their relationship, two labels Lala says aren’t accurate.
"I think people are going to be shocked by that, because it's not what it seems from the outside," she says. "Even if I were to read our life on paper and the fact that he's 20 years older than me, I'd be like, ‘This is so weird and gross. What is this?’ But when you read it in my book and from my viewpoint, it really is such a sweet, little love story, and I wish that things would have happened in a perfect timeline, but that's not how life works. So we just do what we can with what we're given. And I can't regret how something came to be when it's the best thing that ever happened to me."
The other love story in the book is between Lala and her dad, Kent Burningham, who died in 2018. Lala admits she "sobbed throughout writing" the passages about her dad, and calls recording the audiobook chunks of those chapters "torture," but all worth it at the same time.
"My dad, even when I wasn't doing that cool of stuff, when I was living in Utah and I was booking car shows to show off the Toyota Corolla, my dad was bragging to his friends about it," Lala notes. "So I know that he would be extremely proud. I know that he is proud and I just feel, it's no matter what your belief is in life -- I'm not trying to push mine on you -- but I do believe that he is my guardian angel in the things that I've been able to do since he's passed away is just really remarkable. And the only way I can explain that it's happening is I have him on my side."
"It means everything in the world to me that he gets to live forever through the book," she says. "To be able to, I guess, immortalize him in that way, I'm so happy that I have this, I guess, platform to do that. He was the most amazing person that I've ever met in my entire life. And now my daughter, Ocean, she only has one picture in her nursery and it's of my dad. So I love that even though she won't know him like that, she will know him."
Lala and Randall welcomed their first child together, daughter Ocean, in March, and while the new mom told ET she wasn’t sure she’d return to Vanderpump Rules after entering motherhood, she now says she is "ready" and "excited" to get back in front of the reality TV cameras. (Bravo confirmed the series would return for its ninth season after ET spoke with Lala in support of Give Them Lala.)
"Mic me up, the crazy is in my DNA!" she exclaims. "Who am I about to drag first day of filming? I'm ready to go."
Lala promises Ocean will appear on the show because "she’s too damn perfect not to share with the world," but says she’s not yet sure how becoming a mom will change how she operates on camera, if at all.
"I want to say that I'll be softer, but I don't know," she says. "I also thought that being sober would change the way I would be, and that didn't stop me from dragging [Raquel Leviss] again. So I'm hoping that it'll soften me up, but I guess we'll find out."
Vanderpump Rules returns to Bravo this fall, but in the meantime there are plenty of behind-the-scenes stories in Lala’s book to hold fans over, like the fact that her entire first season storyline was a half-truth. For those who need a refresher, in season 4, Lala joined the staff at Lisa Vanderpump's SUR restaurant as a new hostess. In reality, she had briefly worked at the "Sexy Unique Restaurant" years before, when Lisa wasn’t yet a partner in the business, and was recruited to return. When she did come back, Scheana Shay and Katie Maloney-Schwartz were on Lala’s case about a "modeling gig" she booked that turned out to be an all-expenses-paid yacht trip in Europe. While Lala on TV made it seem like she went through with the vacation, she actually just went home to Utah to mope, stressed out by the shaming she'd received at the hands of her new co-workers.
"I think what people would be shocked about is that I've only been on one trip that was paid for," she reveals. "I put on this big facade of like, ‘Oh, I'm yachting and going on p.j.s [private jets] all the time…’ And it's like, no, I went on one trip from Utah. They flew me to Las Vegas, and it was with a gay guy that flew me out. So … I'm just all talk, call me the pretender. That is my superhero name."
In Lala's early days on Pump Rules, she thought she could act her way through the scenes -- there's even an episode where Lala gets caught in a lie and she tells her fellow SUR-vers she thought of their conversations as "fun acting exercises" -- but when Randall entered her life, she realized it was much harder to sell a lie than to the tell truth. While Lala attempted to keep her new relationship under wraps, her co-stars and her producers dug further for her reality.
"After his divorce was finalized, the stakes were not as high anymore," she notes. "I knew that going back onto the show, season six, I'm talking about it all. So if you are going to be with me, then you are going to be mentioned, not by name, but I'm talking about our life together. And if that doesn't work for you, then we need to call it quits because I cannot do what we did last year. That was torture for me."
Lala says Tom Sandoval outing a backseat romp Lala had with Tom’s girlfriend, Ariana Madix, on the show helped put things into perspective for her, because as soon as she and Ariana owned up to their hook-up, the conversation around it stopped.
"How long did that last? Two seconds, two seconds!" she recalls. "So, I had learned my lesson. With that, we're talking about it, and this thing's going to be dead by next week. And it was."
Before Lala got to that point, though, came one of her more memorable onscreen encounters, when she and James Kennedy crashed the rest of the cast's VIP experience at a magazine party, throwing dig after dig at their co-stars. Lala honed in on Katie, making a crack about working on her summer body. While the comment came off as a bit out of nowhere, Lala reveals in the book that it was actually her way of retaliating at Katie, whom Lala claims outed her relationship with Randall to the producers after discovering the real meaning behind a "R.E." tattoo Lala got inked on the inside of her arm.
"[Producers] found out about the R.E. tattoo and Randall Emmett through Katie Maloney, so I was already ready to go in guns blazing," Lala says, "and I had concocted that line before I even walked in to that scene. And they cut out the part where [Katie’s now-husband] Tom Schwartz said, ‘That sounds like you've been working on that line for a while…’ It sounded so scripted. I was like, ‘Oh yeah! I can finally use this.’ But, yeah, it was me retaliating because that's what I do when I'm hurt or nervous. I sling insults at you."
Another one of Lala’s most quotable scenes, the "it ain’t about the pasta" fight with James, is a little bit of the opposite. Lala never intended to fight with James, but instead brought up the pasta story in an attempt to protect her friend. She says producers egged her on to interrogate James over rumors he had hooked up with his gay best friend, Logan Noh, but Lala refused. Instead, she started talking to James about eating all of his girlfriend Raquel’s pasta while the group was out to dinner, but the plan blew up in her face, as James seemingly wanted to address the Logan story and get it over with, leading to his and her heated argument in the street where James exclaimed, “It ain’t about the pasta!”
"I wish that it was about the drug that everyone thinks it was about, that would be a much cooler story," Lala quips, referencing speculation that "pasta" was a code word for cocaine, as viewers couldn’t rationalize someone getting so upset over stealing carbs.
"It was literally about a bowl of pasta for me to try and detour, we're taking a detour, just roll with me," she says. "And it went [south], but that's, like, the ultimate line of Vanderpump is, 'It's not about the pasta!'"
There’s more where that came from in Give Them Lala, available now wherever books are sold.
"I hope, No. 1, [readers] walk away feeling very entertained and have had a few good laughs, maybe some tears as well," Lala says, "but I hope people walk away feeling like they can be less hard on themselves and that it's OK to really mess up and then own it and walk away from it and think of it as just another thing that's happened, instead of it being something that weighs heavy on them. We have to be lighter on ourselves."
Watch Lala record part of her audiobook for Give Them Lala here: