Growing up in Park City, Katie Maloney always dreamed of moving to Hollywood and becoming an actress.
Which she did, Sort of. Maloney moved to Los Angeles, got a job waitressing at a restaurant owned by one of the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” and became a TV star — playing herself in the Bravo reality series “Vanderpump Rules.”
“It’s the easiest acting job ever,” Maloney said. “I don’t have to act. I just have to be myself.”
It isn’t always altogether easy to work in reality TV. “Vanderpump Rules” revolves around the West Hollywood restaurant SUR, which is owned by “Real Housewives” cast member Lisa Vanderpump. The action revolves around the young staff at the restaurant — their lives, loves, rivalries and fights.
“It’s always as crazy as it seems,” Maloney said. “Even before the show started, we’ve always had this heightened, fast-paced, dramatic life within our group of friends. It’s captured very accurately.”
Which is a little bit scary, given that sometimes things get — yes — a little bit scary. At the center of the insanity is Maloney’s friend Stassi Schroeder, who fights with, well, a lot of people. Other servers at the restaurant. Her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jax Taylor, who’s a bartender at SUR.
Stassi doesn’t like Jax’s new girlfriend, Laura-Leigh, another waitress at SUR. She likes her even less after Laura-Leigh (an aspiring actress/recovering addict) and Jax (a part-time model) are caught having sex in the restaurant’s restroom.
It’s that kind of show.
And Maloney didn’t go to “Vanderpump Rules,” the show came to her. She got a job there four years ago to pay her bills while she pursued her dreams.
“Oh my gosh, I never thought that I would do a reality TV show,” she said. “I didn’t want to for a long time because there was stigma attached to reality TV that I didn’t want to involve myself in, so I caught myself by surprise by getting involved.”
She got a taste of it when “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” would shoot at SUR. She got a feel for how fans react when people would come into the restaurant and make it hard for her to do her job by asking so many questions about her boss.
That’s been amplified since “Vanderpump Rules” debuted in January.
“You’re at the table trying to tell them the specials and they’re, like, ‘Oh my God, so, are Jax and Stassi back together?’” Maloney said. “And I’m, like, ‘What do you want to drink?’ It’s a really weird dynamic.”
And fans of the show — people she’s never met — feel as if they know Maloney.
“People think they have you all figured out,” she said, “and they don’t. Reality TV — it’s all very real, but you don’t get to see 24 hours of the day every day for the whole season. It’s very much bits and pieces of your involvement. It’s really hard for someone to have a real idea or a real conclusion for what type of person you are.”
She is, to a large degree, the island of calm in a story sea.
“I can’t say that I don’t have my own little dark side,” Maloney said. “But by comparison, I’m much more moderate and even-keeled than the rest.”
And she has had her own moments of high drama. Such as the party in Las Vegas where Stassi pulled her hair in the midst of a physical altercation and then refused to admit she’d done it — even when she saw the video played back.
“It’s very emotionally taxing,” Maloney said. “I can’t even begin to describe how difficult it can be. You get into a big fight with your best friend or your boyfriend, and most of the time you will take your space and have some quiet time from that person.
“Here, you don’t. You don’t stop talking about it. You can’t stop talking about it. You have to be around that person when you don’t want to.”
(Her boyfriend, aspiring actor/SUR bartender Tom Schwartz, is also featured in the show.)
But through it all, Katie and Stassi remain the best of friends. Even though some viewers have a problem with that.
“Sometimes they come up and say, ‘I don’t like that Stassi. I don’t know how you’re friends with her,’ ” Maloney said. “What if I came up to you and said, ‘I don’t know how you’re friends with that person sitting next to you’? It’s not really insulting, but it’s just kind of silly.”
The two of them were friends long before the show began production and they remain friends today.
“I wouldn’t be friends with somebody that’s a complete nightmare,” Maloney said. “She definitely has more to her than that. But people want to watch their unsolicited advice about who you should be friend with or who should be dating who.”
The Utah native has adjusted her goals a bit. Trying to find work as an actress in Hollywood can be “debilitating sometimes. You go out on countless auditions for months upon months and you don’t get anything.”
So she’s trying to get work doing hair and makeup for film and TV. And working at SUR to pay the bills.
“I’m still working here. Still paying bills waiting tables,” she said.
And, of course, Maloney continues to appear in “Vanderpump Rules.”
“Would I do it all over again?” she said. “Definitely.”
Season 2 begins Tuesday, Nov. 4, as part of a two-hour block of programming on Bravo. At 9 p.m., it’s the fourth-season premiere of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” which spills over into the second-season premiere of “Vanderpump Rules” at 10 p.m.