In front of the camera Tom Schwartz starts off shy; it could have been the extra set of cameras, or the fact that we had to keep music off due to the mics taped to our bras. Either way, as time passed he warmed up in front of the shutter and art was created. The way he moved was a seamless combination of athleticism and charisma. He let us style him in daring looks, which equally tested his comfort and our creativity. We couldn't help but fawn over the effortlessly cool and positive energy he naturally exudes.
Tom Schwartz, much to our dismay, is as dreamy and sweet as he comes off in the hit Bravo show, “Vanderpump Rules.” Trying to keep our composure, we caught up with Schwartz to find out his inspirations and what ignited his move from Minnesota to the big city of Los Angeles, and what he's been up to since then.
So you are…
Tom Schwartz: My name is Tom Schwartz.
Tom Schwartz: Coming to you live!
From the Dream Factory Studios. Where are you from originally, and what brought you to LA?
Tom Schwartz: I hail from a land of 10,00 lakes…I’m from Minnesota, the Twin Cities, and I’m from a suburb of St. Paul called Woodbury. After that, I matriculated at Florida State; I was a Seminole. Then I worked in the wine and spirits business for a few years but secretly, I always wanted to be an actor but I was ashamed of it, I couldn’t even admit it to myself.
I feel like that’s how a lot of people feel.
Tom Schwartz: I guess it was the Midwest mentality. “Who am I to think that I could be an actor?” Anyway, so I finally worked up the moxie to do it. I just packed all my stuff in my 1997 Honda Civic across the country and now I’m here.
How long have you been here?
Tom Schwartz: I’ve been here five years.
Tom Schwartz: Five and a half, coming up on six year anniversary.
My five year anniversary was this year.
Tom Schwartz: Congratulations! It’s a big one!
I think after the first year or two, you know if you want to be here or not.
Tom Schwartz: It was scary in the beginning. I was tentative, I was apprehensive. Three months in, I fell head over heels in love and I’m still kind of in my honeymoon phase. The only thing I resent is the traffic; I have a real problem with it, like I lose my mind.
You just have to take deep breaths and say, “This is a great city”.
Tom Schwartz: [laughs] And put on podcasts!
So what did you do when you first got here?
Tom Schwartz: So when I moved here, it was a slow start. I did catering jobs, I bartended a lot, then eventually I got with some good agencies and I did a lot of commercial print work, a decent amount of commercials. I love doing commercials and being on set, I love getting my face touched and my hair touched. Forget acting! And eating craft services - I feel like a king! [laughs] I must sound like an asshole!
No, that’s the fun part of it! Craft services is the best thing to happen in life!
Tom Schwartz: So good, it’s so good! During that time, I was training as an actor, I did some short films and stuff, but not any credits to really write home about. Just as I was gaining confidence to book stuff, the show came along - “Vanderpump Rules” on Bravo - and I was initially super skeptical. I had the attitude that I was “too cool for school.” "I’m an actor, I’m not doing reality TV.” Then I realized how cool it is, how awesome of a production it is, great network.
It’s the center of pop culture; it’s shifted everything in the industry.
Tom Schwartz: I was scared about how they were going to portray me. Sometimes you get a bad edit and you hear how contrived the industry could be, but nothing is fake on our show, sometimes for better or for worse. It sucks sometimes that it’s authentic; they don’t create story lines, it’s all real. You get to be your own creative director; you get to be you. I love it now!
It seems like fun. You’re with your friends…
Tom Schwartz: Yeah, you get to travel with your friends and it’s great. It’s like being on set everyday. I was on the fence the first two years, one foot in and one foot out.
What season is coming up?
Tom Schwartz: The third just aired and we are filming our fourth right now, still going strong.
Are there any upcoming projects coming up?
Tom Schwartz: Right now, all my time is consumed with “Vanderpump Rules.” When we’re filming, I can’t really do much else. But on a side note, I want to get back into the wine and spirits business as an ambassador, not full time or anything. I enjoy the business and they have great benefits by the way. Free booze, you get to go to concerts and shows, it’s a fun business.
Have you done music?
Tom Schwartz: That’s the other Tom [Sandoval]. I sing in the shower! Sounds good in the shower. Just focused on the show right now, but focused on the future as well. I still do want to act and there is a lot of things I want to do but for right now, it’s show mode.
You work around that and you’ll have a clear space.
Tom Schwartz: I’ll keep on modeling. It’s not a long term aspiration, but it’s a fun thing for a guy like me from Minnesota, growing up in the suburbs to be on set. It’s still exciting. These guys have been doing it since they are 18 and they’re like “fuck modeling,” but it’s still exciting for me.
When you were younger in Minnesota, did you ever thing to yourself that you’d be in Los Angeles, doing this kind of thing?
Tom Schwartz: I may have fantasized about being on set a little bit, it sounded so cool and I’ve always loved movies growing up, obsessed with movies and television, probably to a fault! Things are going great, I didn’t have any intentions on coming here and ending up on a reality TV show, but it’s a winding road.
Labeling Men: Okay, 21 Questions…
Thomas William Schwartz; it’s presidential.
Libra. I think it fits me pretty well.
Legally I’m 32; LA, I’m 27 in industry years!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a reality star! Make sure to add sarcasm to that!
Minnesota, 100%. That’s an easy one! I love the shape of it and I even like the way it looks in texts, I’m not kidding, I love the shape of Minnesota, it’s a sexy state.
Best childhood memory?
Looking for egrets in Minnesota and I would go around with a bin, catching frogs and turtles all day and I’d come home with 30 frogs and turtles and I’d release them. It was a catch and release program. I was like 7 to 8 years old, fond memory.
24 hours to live, free private jet and infinite amount of cash, where do you go?
I do make a stop in Vegas, I have to admit! Maybe it’s a little predictable, but I love gambling. I’ll go there for maybe 6 of my 24 hours. I love poker, it’s my favorite hobby ever, a little craps, a little roulette. The rest of the time I’d spend with my family and spoil the shit out of them.
Chuck, Fuck, or Marry: Chelsea Clinton, Oprah, and Lindsay Lohan.
I’ll probably…It’s predictable; I guess I’ll fuck Lindsay Lohan, chuck Chelsea, and marry Oprah.
Favorite non-alcoholic drink?
That’s a great question. I want to get it right! Currently, I’m really digging unsweetened iced tea. I don’t know what happened, I hated it as a kid.
I like green tea.
If you could trade places with anybody for a day, who would it be?
That’s a good question too. I’d like to be Elvis for a day, the King, baby!
Go-to drunk food?
Pizza, I love pizza. It’s downright sexual!
Favorite item you’ve bought in the past three months.
This necklace [by Kyle Chan]. It’s an 18-carrot gold chain and has a one-of-a-kind meteorite that’s graft. I feel like I’m not cool enough or worthy to wear it!
How would you label your style?
Understated with a little quirk, emphasis on accessories, jewelry, sunglasses are my all-time favorite thing, I love sunglasses.
So you’re a shady man!
Yes, that’s a fair assessment actually
Bungee jumping or skydiving?
Definitely bungee jumping, I’m never going skydiving.
Ocean or lake?
Definitely lake. I’m terrified of the ocean, my mom instilled a phobia of sharks in me, it’s no joke, I won’t go past my waste unless I’m drunk. If something touches my leg, I’m out of there.
I heard this guy was a Biological Specimen Collector. I heard he goes around…Well, that’s not my favorite! [laughs] It would be an actor, you can be a little bit of everything, it’s the dream job.
Favorite piece of clothing on a girl?
I like when girls are scrubby: t-shirt, sweatpants, hair pulled back, maybe a little extra eyeliner, I like a lot of eyeliner.
One fact nobody knows about you?
Sometimes I like to wear eyeliner.
One thing you absolutely hate. One thing you absolutely love.
I hate mayonnaise. I hate small-minded people, I hate bigots. But I also hate mayonnaise. And Wow, there are so many things that I love.
[Labeling Men: [whispers] My girlfriend!]
I love my girlfriend first and mother nature second. I just love a lot of things!
Words to live by?
Be original, be open-minded, and not going to say “YOLO.” Carpe Diem, seize the day. It’s cliche a little but…
[Labeling Men: Cliche is honest.]
I read this Buddhist thing - I’m not a Buddhist - where you should always keep two notes in your pocket. One says that this day was made for you and you are just a speck of dust in a meaningless universe in order to balance you out.
Interview by Amelia Williams - Photos by Kayla Estrella