The Untold Truth Of James Kennedy

The following article includes mentions of alcohol addiction.

In September 2021, Bravo fans received some good news: "Vanderpump Rules" was back after a year-long hiatus. Everyone's favorite servers on TV were at it again, stirring up trouble and pumptinis. Season 9 started with a bang when James Kennedy — who is often painted as the villain — got into a blowout fight with Lisa Vanderpump's son Max Todd, who Lisa once called "a bit of a mentor to James." 

While they were arguing over a bill at an upscale restaurant, James tossed water on Max. They later had a heated conversation via text, during which James called his boss' son and longtime pal "fat" and "miserable," per Heavy. Lisa organized a peace summit between the pair that didn't end well for James. He tried to blame his behavior on a "pre-workout pill," saying that it had turned him into a "hyper, alpha male." However, Max had taken the same supplement and maintained that he was unaffected by it. James did eventually apologize for his actions, but Max told him not to come back to SUR. 

As the black sheep of the "Vanderpump Rules" cast — let's be honest — James keeps the drama coming. Following the Season 9 premiere, we were already looking forward to watching him plan his wedding to Raquel Leviss, plug his DJ career, and hopefully work things out with Max. In honor of his return, we're revisiting all things James Kennedy. So read on below for all the background info you need to know about West Hollywood's best DJ.

James Kennedy struggled with sobriety

As an aspiring DJ and occasional busser at SUR, James Kennedy became used to a hard-partying lifestyle that involved binge drinking and staying out until the early hours of the morning. His raucous ways eventually took their toll on him, though, and James began a years-long struggle with his sobriety — which played out in front of viewers on "Vanderpump Rules." During Season 7, this cost him his job working at Lisa Vanderpump's most popular restaurant, per People (but more on all that below).

After a lot of ups and downs, James did get sober. In July 2021, he celebrated the two-year anniversary of the accomplishment on Instagram. While speaking to E!, the reality star revealed that the secret to managing his addiction was "gratitude," adding, "It's the feeling of being so thankful for my sobriety. I wake up every day thanking God that I've got it." He also spoke about the ways his life improved after he gave up alcohol. "I'm never hungover, I'm able to focus on my music so much more. My relationships and friendships are excelling. When I see these amazing things happening right before my eyes, why would I want to go back?" he stated.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

He has a famous godfather

James Kennedy may have worked his way up to being a DJ at SUR, but it might surprise you to learn that he was always poised for greatness — with or without Lisa Vanderpump. As fate would have it, James comes from an entertainment-oriented family. His mom is a former supermodel, and his dad, Andros Georgiou, managed childhood friend George Michael for most of his career. James' family was so close with Michael that his parents actually made the late singer his godfather; Georgiou told The Sun that Michael even helped him give James his first bath after he was born. 

Unfortunately, James' dad and Michael had a falling out over the singer's 1998 arrest for committing a "lewd act." After they parted ways, James' family admittedly fell on hard financial times, but the Bravo star has nothing but kind things to say about the man he grew up calling "Uncle George." "He's obviously sculpted my life in a way that he's touched many people in his music," James told The Daily Dish in 2017. "He was a family member and was there when we were growing up, so it was two sides, I guess. His music changed the world, but he also was just a normal, beautiful person at home."

After Michael's death, rumors persisted that he left James a large sum of money in his will. But during an episode of "Watch What Happens Live," James said that he had "been told nothing" about receiving an inheritance.  

James Kennedy has a high net worth

In later seasons of "Vanderpump Rules," James Kennedy's storyline revolved around his family's financial struggles. As the story goes, James grew up wealthy thanks to his father's managerial positions in the music industry. However, when hard times hit, his dad lost his clients, and his parents split, per The Daily Dish. James can often be heard lamenting his family's financial woes and the pressure he feels to support them via his service industry job.

On "VPR," James has worked on and off as a busser and sometimes DJ, but we all know his real bread and butter comes from what he doesn't mention on camera: that he has a lucrative reality TV contract. If you need more evidence that James likely has a high net worth, look no further than the fancy West Hollywood apartment he shares with his fiancée Raquel Leviss. 

While we don't know exactly how much James is worth, we assume it's a lot. On his Instagram grid, peep him rocking pricey designer T-shirts, posing in front of luxury cars, and globetrotting with his gal. Since he's never spoken publicly about his salary, we can't say for sure what his bank statements look like, but that hasn't stopped the speculation. Full Celebs estimates that he's worth around $4 million, and he likely makes at least $10,000 per episode of "VPR," per Radar. Which, again, cannot be confirmed, but is definitely more than he makes in tips at See You Next Tuesday.

The Bravo star supports his family

Season 7 of "Vanderpump Rules," in particular, centered around James Kennedy's decision to financially support his fractured family. He is the eldest of three, and following his parents' divorce, he was the only one holding down a job. In the past, he has claimed that he fully covers his brother's tuition and that his mom regularly asks him for money, per Bustle — meaning James has long been the main breadwinner in the family.

As you can probably imagine, that kind of responsibility is a heavy commitment for a 20-something DJ/busboy. "James as breadwinner" was a departure from his earlier role of "James the villain," and it earned him respect from his boss, Lisa Vanderpump, who told The Daily Dish that the way James supports his brothers shows his true depth. "James has a lot of goodness in him and I was happy that you see some of that," she said. "And that's my frustration with James Kennedy is that I know that he's got a lot more to offer." 

In 2019, a fan sent James a sweet message explaining how their view of the reality show star changed once they realized what he's had to endure for the sake of his family. "People judge me and I'm fine with that," James wrote on Instagram under a screenshot of the DM. "I do this show to change people's perspectives and let them see mine, this makes me so happy to see." 

James Kennedy found the love of his life

James Kennedy first landed on "Vanderpump Rules" when he became the rebound of former "VPR" star Kristen Doute after her relationship with Tom Sandoval ended (via E!). This is reality TV we're talking about, so things did not work out for Kristen and James. Instead of riding off into the sunset, they both appeared super reactive, drank too much, and got into public fights. James then went from Kristen to a brief fling with Lala Kent, but spent most of his early seasons fighting with his ex and hooking up with random waitresses.

Then James met his match in college student Raquel Leviss, per Bravo. They dated long distance for a few years before Raquel relocated to L.A., moved in with James, and squeezed her way onto the show, where her main storylines involved the never-ending rumors that James cheated on her while she was away at school. During a Hollywood Life interview, Raquel denied that James was unfaithful, but whatever may or may not have happened doesn't seem to matter anymore, as she and James are over the moon for each other. 

They are so happy, in fact, that the pair got engaged in May 2021, per their posts on Instagram. "I'm one lucky guy. Thank you, God!" James captioned their Coachella-themed engagement photo. "THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, said yes." At the time of this writing, Raquel and James are still very much together and very much invested in planning their dream wedding.

The DJ's temper got him fired

If you've watched "Vanderpump Rules," then you already know that James Kennedy has a, well, rocky relationship with SUR. Since landing a spot in the main cast, James has been suspended, promoted, demoted, and, finally, fired from the restaurant. The final blow came in 2018 when he got into a verbal altercation with Katie Maloney. James was drunk and yelling during a Pride event at SUR when Katie piped up and told him to be quiet. James retorted with a string of insults criticizing Katie's weight gain. Katie forced Lisa Vanderpump's hand and told her she wasn't comfortable working with someone so aggressive. Lisa fired James a few days later, per Hollywood Life.

Lisa was adamant that James did not belong at SUR in his current state. "You need to be sober for the rest of your life. I'm telling you that," she said during a tense sit-down with the DJ, per People. She added that it was unacceptable for someone working for her to speak to women in such a derogatory way. "There's a darkness inside me that comes out," James said of his temper. "Seriously, I'm never touching another drop of alcohol again."  

But the damage was already done, and the conversation ended with Lisa letting him go. James turned the loss into an opportunity, though — it gave him time to reflect on his behavior and work on getting sober. And, as of June 2021, he's got his DJing gig back at SUR.

James Kennedy has a messy history with the cast

"Vanderpump Rules" is a reality show about would-be actors fighting with each other at their serving jobs. They drink, they hook up, they break up, and they fight some more. However, it could be argued that no one has gotten messier or earned a worse reputation among the cast than DJ James Kennedy. His breakup with Kristin Doute was so bad that even to this day they are barely on speaking terms. Kristen took her vengeance to such a level that she spent most of Season 7 trying to prove that he was cheating on his girlfriend (now fiancée) Raquel Leviss, per Refinery29. Most of the cast, especially the women, tend to side with Kristen, and thus have never been supportive of James' relationship.

Things really hit the fan for James, though, when Lala Kent — his one-time fling, one-time best friend — turned on him after Season 8. Speaking to Us Weekly about their relationship in 2019, Lala explained that the falling out was about James' continued disrespect of her fiancé Randall Emmett. "He has always been an extremely verbally abusive friend to me and I always shook it off because I knew that it was coming from a hurt place and I knew it really only happened when he was under the influence," she said. "But when you start attacking someone who I'm going to spend the rest of my life with, you might as well be attacking my mother as well."

He has a complicated relationship with his mom

In addition to financially supporting his mom, Jacqueline Georgiou, James has had a tense relationship with her for years. On "VPR," the relationship appears quite toxic, with Jacqueline simultaneously criticizing and enabling James' bad behavior. If you've seen the show, you likely already know all of this.

What you might not know, though, is that some members of the cast dislike the dynamic between the pair just as much as fans. James' best frenemy and one-time fling, Lala Kent, couldn't keep from sharing her thoughts when watching an episode of "VPR" where Jacqueline defended James' actions against Katie Maloney. "I get that there's this whole movement of women, but when women come at my son, where does James go to?" Jacqueline said, per Us Weekly. Lala posted a since-deleted Instagram Story with the caption, "Is this for real? Did this woman actually raise someone?"

Thankfully, James and Jacqueline are in a better place now. According to James, things started to turn around when they both quit drinking. "She texts me every day, we talk every day, we live 10 minutes away from each other, so I like to see her," James told "The Daily Dish" podcast in 2021. "So, we stay close and our relationship has gone leaps and bounds since I stopped drinking as well, because now that we're both sober, we're both counting the blessings together every day and it's just such a beautiful thing, you know?"

James Kennedy was bullied as a child

James Kennedy might seem like he has it all: a sweet gig on a reality TV show, a blossoming DJ career, a loving fiancée, and an adorable dog. However, his early life wasn't anywhere near as glamorous as you might think. Fans were shocked to learn that James was brutally bullied as a child in England. He opened up about the experience on "Vanderpump Rules," claiming that his classmates mocked his cleft chin and twisted his leg until they heard his joints pop. Thankfully, the bullying stopped once James' family moved stateside. During an emotional confessional, James reflected on the verbal and physical bullying he endured back home, saying, "There's people that are gonna try and bring you down in a way, but ... it's about getting back up after that."

Though he grew up to be a wealthy L.A.-based DJ and television star, James has remained down to earth about how hard it can be to be a kid. In 2018, a concerned mom tweeted that her child, who also attended school in England, was being bullied. "@itsjameskennedy this kid knows what its like to be a brit boy getting bullied called gay etc this is my josh and like you hes destined for great things," she wrote. James shared the tweet and responded with, "Josh is awesome and killing the game with that tie! I wore a private school uniform tooo!"

He and Katie worked it out

James Kennedy's falling out with Katie Maloney seemed like it might signal the end of not just his time at SUR, but his time on "Vanderpump Rules," too. As previously mentioned, the rest of the cast sided with Katie after James called her fat, and she convinced Lisa Vanderpump to fire him. James came back for Season 9, and, miraculously, was able to patch things up with Katie during the offseason.

Case in point: In February 2020, James started DJing at SUR again (short-lived, though — thanks, COVID). To commemorate the moment, he posted a since-deleted photo of a text chain between himself and the co-owner of SUR confirming the event. Fans were delighted to see Katie leave a sweet comment on the post, per The Daily Dish. "All is right again in SUR land. I'm happy for you dude," she said. "[Katie] Thank you so much," James wrote in response. "Means so much honestly!"

Furthermore, Katie revealed that, while she and James might not be the best of friends, they are on good terms. In an Instagram Story captured by CheatSheet, a fan asked Katie if she would rather be stranded on a deserted island with James for one month or by herself for a whole year, and she responded with, "Dj James Kennedy!!!" Considering the fact that they couldn't even be in the same room with each other a few years prior to this, we'd say that's major progress.