UPDATE: On Tuesday, it was reported by Variety that Stassi and Kristen have been fired from Vanderpump Rules, along with Brett and Max. According to a statement from Bravo, “Bravo and Evolution Media confirmed today that Stassi Schroeder, Kristen Doute, Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni will not be returning to Vanderpump Rules.” On Monday, Stassi’s agency and PR firm both confirmed they will no longer be working with her.
Last week, we saw Lea Michele get called out by her Black costars for her problematic, racist behavior, and her subsequent non-apology. But racism certainly isn’t confined to the Glee set, and with the tide of anti-racism that’s growing right now, I’m sure there will be more stories like this in the coming days and weeks. In fact, one old story about Vanderpump Rules has gotten renewed attention over the past week, and it’s about time: Faith Stowers reminded Bravo fans of Kristen and Stassi’s racist behavior towards her, and now Stassi and Kristen are facing backlash and consequences for their actions.
Throughout its eight-season run, diversity in the Vanderpump Rules cast has ranged from slim to none, with most seasons landing at none. Faith Stowers, a Black woman, was brought on as a recurring cast member in the fourth season, but her contract wasn’t renewed, and there hasn’t been a woman of color on the show since. Faith famously reappeared in season five, during the cheating scandal with Jax, but she was never able to tell her side of the story, and she’s said producers refused to pay her to appear at the reunion that season.
It was around this time that Kristen Doute and Stassi Schroeder went on a gross public smear campaign against Faith. On a 2018 episode of the Bitch Bible podcast, Stassi told a story about her and Kristen calling the cops on Faith. They had seen a Daily Mail article about a woman wanted for robbery, who they said looked just like Faith (she didn’t). Stassi excitedly described her and Kristen’s amateur detective work, which included screenshotting surveillance footage and checking tattoo placement in photos. They then proceeded to repeatedly call both the regular police AND the military police (Faith is a veteran) to report her, even after the police didn’t take their reports seriously. If that sounds too cruel and outrageous to be true, it’s not. At the time I’m writing this, Kristen hasn’t even deleted her tweets about it:
hey tweeties, doesn’t this ex #pumprules thief look familiar?
someone put her on mtv & gave her a platform for press. I didn’t wanna go there but I’m going there. https://t.co/4682a7jyzG
— kristen doute 🦒🤟🏽 (@kristendoute) April 26, 2018
and she’s wearing Logan’s jacket!
PS it was his favesies and he would really like it back. https://t.co/SnxmJdcHIo
— kristen doute 🦒🤟🏽 (@kristendoute) April 26, 2018
Stassi had A LOT to say about Faith during this podcast interview: she said Faith was “homeless” during filming for Vanderpump Rules, and accused her of stealing Jax Taylor’s car (with seemingly no evidence). She also said that Lala Kent used to “plant things in her apartment to see if Faith stole it.” Basically, they made Faith’s life a living hell, and not only did they not think what they were doing was completely wrong, they had no problem publicly boasting about it.
At the time, Faith threatened to file a lawsuit against Stassi for what she said on the podcast, but it’s unclear what ultimately came of that. But on an Instagram Live last week, Faith talked about her time on the show, and how poorly her fellow cast members treated her. She specifically brought up the police incident with Kristen and Stassi, saying that having the cops called on her was what “made me really want to run for the hills.” She said she was “invited” to come back on the show after that, but declined. Given the abhorrent treatment she received from her fellow castmates, I don’t blame her.
While this story has always been incredibly f*cked up in general, it’s particularly awful in the context of the relationship between the Black community and police. Calling the cops is never something that should be taken lightly, but if you call them on a Black person, you are quite literally putting their life at risk (looking at you, Amy Cooper and Svitlana Flom). Stassi and Kristen acted like total Karens when they called the police on Faith based on a few hunches. Also alarming is how they bragged what they did (Stassi said on the now-deleted Bitch Bible episode, “We are like, we just solved a f*cking crime”), and Kristen went so far as to try to send her Twitter followers after Faith.
After Faith’s IG Live last week, Kristen and Stassi started getting a lot of heat on social media, and someone even made an “Accountability for Stassi” Instagram page. For Stassi specifically, this isn’t her only brush with being highly problematic. Back in 2017, Stassi talked about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, a response to all 20 acting nominees being white, on her podcast, saying that she was “really sick of everyone making everything about race,” adding that she didn’t understand why it was “always just about African Americans.” In 2018, she got criticized for an Instagram story where she described her outfit as “Nazi chic.” In the same photo, she labeled Kristen and her friend Rachael’s outfits “Tupac chic” and “criminal chic,” which also seem problematic. Stassi took down the photo and re-uploaded it with a different label for herself, but she should have just quit while she was behind.
So far, two of Stassi’s podcast sponsors, Ritual and Billie, confirmed to Page Six that they will no longer be working with her after learning of this situation. In addition, Glamour Magazine, which was running a bridal column by Stassi, told Page Six that they have “no plans to continue at this time.”
After keeping quiet about the situation for several days, Stassi and Kristen both spoke out on Sunday, posting written statements on Instagram within minutes of each other. Their apologies aren’t identical, but it definitely feels like they were
written looked over by the same crisis PR team. Here’s Stassi’s:
View this post on Instagram
First things first: as a white person, these apologies are not mine to accept. But given that we are all learning, and it’s not the job of Black people to educate us, I wanted to try to unpack their apologies so we can all do better.
Stassi addresses Faith directly, and specifies that she does not expect forgiveness; she apologizes for what she did, not for how Faith felt as a result; and she vows to work to do better in the future. Overall, this is better than, say, Lea Michele’s “perceived” bullsh*t, but there are still a few issues, one being that if she didn’t apologize to Faith in person, this is performative. Another thing: Stassi starts her statement by acknowledging the “racially insensitive comments” that have resurfaced. But this situation went much further than comments, it was really about behavior.
And here’s Kristen’s:
View this post on Instagram
Doute keeps it a bit more to the point, also apologizing directly to Faith and promising to learn and do better. But one part of her post stuck out to me as not quite right: “Although, my actions were not racially driven…” We’re all learning right now, and one thing that’s important to understand is the concept of implicit bias. Racism isn’t just KKK rallies and white supremacist Twitter trolls. Racial prejudice is all around of us, and our society teaches us racial bias in ways we don’t even realize.
Another thing that bothers me in general about these statements is the vague suggestion that all of this happened a long time ago, and that Kristen and Stassi have learned since then. But this didn’t happen a long time ago, it happened in 2018. By any measure, that is RECENT. Not only were Stassi and Kristen adults at the time (Kristen was 35 when she sent those tweets), they were already famous people with platforms and hundreds of thousands of followers. Of course, I hope they really are as dedicated to learning and doing better as they say, but it’s worrying that they thought this was okay just two years ago.
Should Kristen and Stassi be held accountable for their actions? Absolutely. Whether that means losing sponsors or getting fired from Vanderpump Rules, who knows, but they need to know that what they did was not okay. Apologizing is the place to start, but they still need to show actual progress.
Images: DFree / Shutterstock.com; kristendoute / Twitter; omfgrealitytv2, stassischroeder, kristendoute / Instagram