Let Me Entertain You - Guillermo Zapata
Energy begets energy. Guillermo Zapata feels it. He seeks and charges ahead with his. Living large as not only restaurateur (owner of wildly successful SUR Restaurant in L.A.) but also as actor, producer and TV personality (Vanderpump Rules). He loves what he is doing. “America is a country that helps you pursue your dream. You can dream and dreams can happen. I am full of passion!” He sources energy from the sun, ocean, travels and all the people that make up the cast of his life, which has now actually become a reality show Vanderpump Rules launching into Season 18 on January 7th. The American dream is alive and well in the path of this preternaturally positive entrepreneur, artist, family man and unabashed people person.
Guillermo Zapata (GZ): “I was born in Argentina...in the city of Buenos Aires. At the age of 22, I came for the first time to L.A. I was an actor in Argentina and my goal was to see Hollywood, not to live here. I took a vacation in 1992, and after 10 days, I loved it so much. The day I was to leave, I was drinking a coffee at Cafe Luna and they hired me as a dishwasher. I knew I had to start at the bottom. I never went back to Argentina.”
Olivia Daane (OD): What was your first big break in that L.A. scene? You were already an actor in Argentina and your father Rodolfo Zapata was true entertainment industry royalty in Latin America.
GZ: The job opened the door. I got a job! I told my father... and they all thought I got a part in a movie...about the dishwasher job...he hung up the phone. The key was to know the language, so I studied hard and focused every day on learning English. The restaurant involvement was an accident, but I liked it! I did some modeling and then in 1998 I opened SUR which is open still...so, I must have done something right!
OD: You are an actor and a restaurateur. Tell me about Vanderpump Rules and what you are working on now and how acting came back into the picture?
GZ: My father just passed at eighty-seven. He was a famous, Argentinian legend: a singer and actor. So, I got the desire for performance from him. Like a musician, that gene never goes away but sometimes it takes time to make your first love come alive the way you want it to. Now I’m producing, filming. Just never give up! Always pursue your dream. I am just at the beginning of what I want, it will never stop. In 2005, I partnered with Lisa Vanderpump Todd, Ken Todd along with my wife Natalie and we made SUR go to the next level. It was 2,000 square feet, now it is 9,000 square feet. The food is great but we also innovate...I am always thinking “What else we can do to entertain people?” Lisa became very popular on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Bravo was looking to do something. The restaurant is a show! I mean everyone working here is a character. I see it every day. Voila!... Vanderpump Rules became a reality.
“I AM JUST AT THE BEGINNING OF WHAT I WANT.”
OD: If not this triple threat of dashing restaurateur, entrepreneur and actor, what would you be doing?
GZ: Zoro? Superman? Astronaut?….I wanted all this as a kid, but I wanted to be a performer most, so for me I am just blessed to be doing this at the top. In 2020, you will see me in my film I am acting in and producing, “La Sombra del Gato” directed by Jose Cicala. I am excited for the next things that are coming in my life.
OD: It is tangible, your ability to inspire. Who is your inspiration?
GZ: My father. He started from being very poor and became very successful. Every person around me has been an inspiration from my teachers to my co-workers, wife, kids. There is not just one person. I believe in God and the energy that comes from God. I bring the positive from each person I meet into my life. My wife (and partner in SUR Restaurant) of seventeen years is a great mother to our two daughters, Lou (14) and Miarose (11).
On his bedside:
GZ: I like positive books and to keep myself positive in everything: The Three Questions, Don Miguel Ruiz, Charming Your Way to the Top, Michael Levine and A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle.
On his playlist:
GZ: Eclectic from my travels. I like to absorb the music from each country. I collect music for the restaurant like chill, house music. (SUR is now known for the atmosphere created by Guillermo’s worldly curation)