Kristen Doute talks season 5 of 'Vanderpump Rules': 'This is definitely my favorite season'

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By: Gibson Johns

Kristen Doute has been through her fair share of ups and downs, but she's seemingly come out on top.

Heading into a fifth season of "Vanderpump Rules," the reality TV star is happier than she's been in quite some time, thanks in part to renewed friendships with fellow cast members Stassi Schroeder and Katie Maloney as well as a relationship with new boyfriend photographer boyfriend, Carter.

SEE ALSO: Kristin Cavallari reveals which former 'Laguna Beach' and 'The Hills' co-stars she would let babysit her kids

Up until the current fifth season of Bravo's "Pump Rules," when the show's diehard fans thought of Doute, they probably thought of her tumultuous relationship with ex-boyfriend Tom Sandoval or that time Lisa Vanderpump, who owns SUR, the restaurant that the cast apparently still works at, fired her. But now, as Doute puts it, "there's been a change."

I recently caught up with Kristen Doute on the phone to talk about her shaky past, how she's gotten to such a great place in her life and which cast member we can expect the most drama from during the fifth season of "Vanderpump Rules."

See photos of Kristen Doute through the years:

31 PHOTOS
Kristen Doute of 'Vanderpump Rules' through the years
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Kristen Doute of 'Vanderpump Rules' through the years
VANDERPUMP RULES -- Season:5 -- Pictured: Kristen Doute -- (Photo by: Tommy Garcia/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 04: (L-R) Kristen Doute, guest, Stephanie Corneliussen, and Katie Maloney attend the 'Vanderpump Rules' Season 5 Premiere Party at HYDE Sunset: Kitchen + Cocktails on November 4, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 03: Kristen Doute (R) and Brian Carte attend Vanderpump Dogs Foundation Gala at Taglyan Cultural Complex on November 3, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: (L-R) Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix, Jax Taylor, Scheana Shay, Stassi Schroeder, Kristen Doute, Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz of 'Vanderpump Rules' attend VanderCrawl at Kola House on November 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/Getty Images)
VANDERPUMP RULES -- Pictured: (l-r) Kristen Doute, Jax Taylor, Brittany Cartwright, Max Vanderpump, Tom Sandoval, Tom Schwartz, Katie Maloney, Michael Shay, Scheana Shay, Peter Madrigal, Stassi Schroeder -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Kristen Doute -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 25: TV personality Kristen Doute attends the ECOLUXE Pre-Oscars Celebrity Luxury Lounge on February 25, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: TV personality Kristen Doute (L) and Stassi Schroeder attend The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Kristen Doute -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 24: Kristen Doute and Brian Carter attend EcoLuxe Lounge at Sundance16 on January 24, 2016 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for EcoLuxe)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Kristen Doute -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 08: Reality T.V. actresses Katie Maloney and Kristen Doute attend the GBK & Pilot Pen Golden Globes 2016 Luxury Lounge - Day 1 at W Hollywood on January 8, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for GBK Productions)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Television personality Kristen Doute arrives at the 13th Annual Lupus LA Hollywood Bag Ladies Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 20, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Reality TV Personality Kristen Doute attends the 23rd annual Veterans Holiday Celebration 'A Night For Heroes' on November 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 28: Brian Carter and Kristen Doute attend the 'Vanderpump Rules' premiere party at The Church Key on October 28, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: TV Personality Kristen Doute attends Kari Feinstein's Style Lounge at Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas on September 18, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage)
VANDERPUMP RULES -- Season:3 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix, Jax Taylor, Scheana Marie, Lisa Vanderpump, Kristen Doute, James Kennedy, Katie Maloney, Tom Schwartz -- (Photo by: Tommy Garcia/Andrew Eccles/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 30: TV personalities Kristen Doute (L) and Peter Madrigal attend Katie Maloney's Pucker and Pout launch party at Frederic Fekkai Hair Salon on July 30, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 17: Kristen Doute arrives for the Tinder Plus Launch Party With Jason Derulo And ZEDD at Hangar 8 on June 17, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 21: Kristen Doute attends the OK! Magazine's So Sexy event on May 21, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Tom Sandoval, Katie Maloney, Jax Taylor, Lisa Vanderpump, Kristen Doute and Scheana Marie appear during the 2015 NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Upfront at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on May 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Kristen Doute -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 09: TV personality Kristen Doute attends The Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society 12th Annual Holiday Party at 1OAK on December 9, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Actress Kristen Doute attends the Alexander Wang x H&M Pre-Shop Party at H&M on November 5, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for H&M)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 09: James Kennedy and Kristen Doute arrive at the Star Magazine Scene Stealers Event at Lure on October 9, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/WireImage)
VANDERPUMP RULES -- Season:3 -- Pictured: Kristen Doute -- (Photo by: Tommy Garcia/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
VANDERPUMP RULES -- 'Bachelorette Beach Party' Episode 310 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kristen Doute, James Kennedy -- (Photo by: Jeff Daly/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THERMAL, CA - APRIL 12: Actors Kristen Doute (L) and Jax Taylor attend Day 1 of the LACOSTE Beautiful Desert Pool Party on April 12, 2014 in Thermal, California. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for LACOSTE)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 16: Kristen Doute attends the Queen Of The Universe International Beauty Pageant hosted at the Saban Theatre on March 16, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jennifer Lourie/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 23: (L-R) Tom Sandoval, Kristen Doute, Lisa Vanderpump, Stassi Schroeder, Katie Maloney, Scheana Marie and Jax Taylor attend the 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' and 'Vanderpump Rules' premiere party at Boulevard3 on October 23, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
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Check out our full conversation with "Vanderpump Rules" star Kristen Doute below:

Going into this fifth season of "Vanderpump Rules," it seems as though you're in a much better place than you have been in a while. What's different for you this time around?

Obviously, during past seasons, people have seen their fair share of meltdowns that I've had, but I think that everything happens for a reason. I'm not proud of all of the decisions that I've made, but I think that it really was for the benefit of all of us when I lost a lot of my friends a couple of years ago, because it put me in a rock bottom place. I had to take a hard look at myself and become more self-aware. With that, I was able to make healthier changes for myself, which has resulted in getting these friendships back.

It's not like we wanted what we had before, but we all wanted to get to somewhere even better. It was a huge wakeup call seeing this stuff on TV. This is definitely my favorite season. It's all about Katie and Tom and their wedding, and it feels like a throwback to season one with everyone being back together.

I also have a great boyfriend and a stable relationship -- finally! [Laughs] He's such a great support system, and I really think that helps me a lot.

Will we see him a lot on the show this season?

Yes, definitely. I was very fortunate that he was willing to do this. It's not easy when you are thrown into something like this, something we're all used to. He's not used to sharing his whole life on camera, whereas, for us, it's easy because we've been doing it for five seasons now. For him, it was kind of a crazy thing to have to jump into. He's known most of the cast for so many years, though -- I was probably one of the only people he didn't already know -- and I think that made it a lot easier for him. It wasn't like he was hanging out with a bunch of strangers on camera.

Your friendship with Stassi Schroeder also seems fully mended now. How were you guys able to get to such a good place again?

You mean, how did Stassi forgive me?! [Laughs] I gave Stassi the space that she needed. It took us about a year and a half to even start talking again, and little-by-little I started reaching out. It made me nervous, but I was willing to accept a rejection if that's they way she wanted to go with it. I didn't want to go with her thinking that I didn't care enough to try. It definitely took some time, and we started talking little-by-little a couple of years ago, eventually when she was able to really get over Jax and not care about him anymore and become self-aware in her own place, she was able to then forgive me. It took time to rebuild that trust, and I tried really hard to prove to her that I was a changed person that she could trust. I'm really grateful that it worked out.

Okay, if you're looking at the whole of this fifth season, which cast member would you say has the most overall drama throughout the season?

Oh, God! We all kind of do in different ways, really. I mean, it's no surprise that we're not huge fans of James and Lala. We kind of really stood strong and banded together to protect each other [from them]. In the first few episodes there's also kind of a lot of Katie bullying, and I made it my personal mission to be Katie's bodyguard. Anyone that tried to bully Katie, I was like "She's planning a wedding, leave her alone." So, it's like, the crazy went away, but my feistiness will never go away. [Laughs]

Even so, there are a lot of relationships between the core cast that are going to be interesting for the viewers -- I don't want to give too much away -- but people are going to be talking to each other that you might not totally expect. I also think the guys cried more this season than the girls.

Oh, judging by the trailer, that is definitely true. (*Watch the trailer at the top of this page*)

Seriously! I mean, Sandoval obviously. But Schwartz had an emotional summer and there were more, like, guy-fights. It was kind of strange.

So, at this point, you are all full-blown celebrities, but you started simply as wait staff at one of Lisa Vanderpump's restaurants. When did you really notice a switch in how people were treating you and reacting to you?

Saying that word is just so odd, I don't know. We're still the same people, but I feel like we started noticing a major difference between season two and season three, when people really started to become invested in our relationships and lives and having feelings about our breakups and fights. I think that people started to relate to those things, and that's what we like most about doing the show.

We're all so honest, and not all reality shows are "real." We all know this. There are some that are more guided or maybe even scripted -- who knows. But our show is really the only one that, I feel, is completely genuine. We weren't cast, and when we started noticing that people were invested, we felt as if we were almost helping them. I had people reaching out to me after my breakup from Tom Sandoval saying, "Oh my God, I went through that, too! Thank you for sharing your story!"

When people come up to you, what's the most common thing for them to say to you?

Now, people still get stuck in 2012. They're still stuck in "Crazy Kristen" and "Why are you trying to stalk Tom Sandoval and trying to break up Ariana [Madix] and Tom?" It's like, that was four years ago! I still get a lot of that on social media, but in person people say positive things. People don't know my boyfriend, Carter, yet, but people are seeing from social media that I'm happier [with him]. There's been a change.

It must be nice to be getting that sympathy from viewers.

For sure. And, listen, we put ourselves out there, and we know what to expect: People are going to have opinions, but it's nice when people are able to realize we aren't one-dimensional and that you don't see everything on the show.

How has your relationship with Lisa Vanderpump evolved over the course of the show's five seasons?

When she fired me, obviously it wasn't ideal in the way that it went down, but at the same time it was a blessing in disguise, in that it was the healthiest thing that could've happened for both Lisa and I. It was just becoming very tough for me, and it made it even tougher for Lisa, because she had to deal with the backlash of my actions.

But I think that on a personal level, because we're both so stubborn. But I've grown up, and I have the utmost respect for Lisa. She is a brilliant entrepreneur. I can't imagine handling all of the businesses she has plus her family and the dogs and Yulin. Hats off to her for leading that charge. I'm very proud to be able to say that I know her and work with her.

You and your cast mates recently went on the "VanderCrawl," a bar crawl around the Meatpacking District in New York City, to gear up for the premiere. What was that like?

Oh my God, it was crazy! Literally mind-blowing, I couldn't believe what a turnout we had. It was so much fun and really cool to be able to meet so many people, because the bottom line is that we wouldn't have a show without every single fan and viewer.

You recently launched your lifestyle website Vegiholic. Can you tell me about it and why you wanted to start your own website?

I'm not a chef or a dietician or a nutritionist, but I've been a vegetarian for 22 years, and I do love to cook. I love to pair things and come up with cool ideas for everyone -- whether you eat meat or you're a vegan or what have you -- I just think that I can turn people onto a cleaner lifestyle. A lot of people don't realize how easy it is to start eating healthier, even with the things that you already have in your fridge.

I think a lot of people are nervous about a vegetarian lifestyle, because they think it's expensive or they think it's time-consuming. The website is not just recipes (though, there will be recipes and things you can make from scratch) but it's also fun recommendations and things. I'm going to be doing kind of a restaurant crawl over time, and I want to teach people that when you go to a restaurant you wouldn't normally eat at if you're a vegetarian, you don't need to just get a side salad. There are so many ways to do that.

I'm just so excited about it -- it's a huge passionate of mine -- and I feel really fortunate that my boyfriend is in photography. Katie Maloney has a blog and, right when I was starting, she told me that I have that secret weapon that successful bloggers have -- a photographer boyfriend. That's been really cool to have him shooting for everything I'm creating.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Tune into "Vanderpump Rules" on Bravo, Mondays at 9 p.m. EST.

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