As a reality TV star, Katie Maloney-Schwartz knows what it's like to face judgment.
In her case, she's no stranger to certain labels — a "bitch," a "mean girl," a "bully." But, as she aims to highlight on her new podcast, You're Gonna Love Me, there's more to her than what you see on TV.
"I had an idea of wanting to start a podcast last year," Maloney-Schwartz, who has been a cast member of Bravo's Vanderpump Rules since 2013, tells PEOPLE. "And so it's been just a labor of love — trying to really flesh out the idea and the concept of what I wanted it to be, what I wanted people to get out of it, who I wanted to talk to and what subjects I wanted to cover."
At 33, Maloney-Schwartz is no stranger to living her life in the public eye.
"Being on reality TV and having my life be open to millions of people, I've definitely been labeled a lot of things and put in boxes, people having opinions and judging me for things that they see on the show," she says. "And I understood where a lot of them were coming from, and a lot of the reasons why I was being viewed or thought of in certain ways, but I'm just like, 'Damn, there's like a lot more to me than just this.' I know I can be a bitch, I can be brutally honest. My delivery can be a little harsh or brash, but, at the end of the day, I'm still a person with multiple layers to me."
"I know nothing [about the new cast members]," says Maloney-Schwartz, who has stayed close with Schroeder and sought her advice for her podcast. "I mean, I hope that our show can become more diverse, and that should have been happening for a long time. So I'm anxious and curious to find out, too, what that going to look like and who's going to come in."
"I have no idea at this point, because obviously we're not filming," she continues. "And we don't know when [we'll be able to start], because until the restaurant can open … Right now, it's kind of like we're just sitting ducks."
And the star, who is married to Tom Schwartz, says she would be open to a TomTom spinoff.
"For sure," she says. "I think in any kind of capacity where we can continue to film a reality show, I feel like that would be really, really fun because obviously I don't work at Sur anymore. So I don't have relationships with all the people that work there, anyways."
As for the ongoing national conversations around race, social justice and police brutality, Maloney-Schwartz says she wants to use her platform to engage her fans.
"Just trying to bring awareness to certain topics or petitions that need to be signed, or places to donate, or Black businesses to support — those are a lot of things I wanted to highlight and use my platform and voice to bring awareness to," she says. "Because I feel like I have a lot of people that follow me and sometimes people don't know where to go, so I'll do that. And then I think just personally, whether it's reading or listening to videos or podcasts, just to start understanding the experiences of people who haven't had the same experiences as me, to create more compassion and understanding and trying to figure out, 'Where can my place be in this?'"
"There are a lot of different ways to get involved, but I think really trying to encourage people to vote — I think that's something that we all have a responsibility to do and should do," she continues. "Because if you support equality, if you want to change the system that's built on really horrible, antiquated ideas, recognizing in yourself also blind spots that you've had in microaggressions in your life, becoming highly aware, aware of the privilege that we've had to not see the same things. And I think that kind of effort … is a conscious reckoning. Trying to undo and unlearn and relearn."
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.
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