Brace Yourself, Savannah: ‘Southern Charm’ is Headed Your Way!
Savannah, a city lined with Spanish moss-covered oak trees and azaleas, 200-year-old cobblestones, and antiquated homes brimming with Victorian architecture, is about to get a dose of reality—reality TV, that is. Home to the queen of deep fry and the picturesque setting for many classic Southern films, such as Forrest Gump, Something to Talk About, and The Legend of Bagger Vance—it’s not all that surprising that one of TV’s biggest networks decided to put a spotlight on Savannah beyond food, horses, and golf. Bravo TV’s Southern Charm Savannah premieres on May 8 at 10 p.m., and is set to give viewers a glimpse at Savannah's beautiful scenery and history, as well as dive into the personal and professional lives of the six, high-society Savannahians who make up the primary cast. Most of them are lifelong friends who grew up in the antebellum South, each with their own storied journey and fascinating stories to tell. We reached out to the close-knit group for the real sweet tea on just what gives this region its distinct charm, diversity, and style, and how they’re navigating their way through the ever-changing and evolving city. Consider your Monday night entertainment covered!
Ashley is the only mom of the cast. In addition to raising her son, Izzy, she’s also an actress, stylist, and creative director. Although she’s a Southern woman through and through, she likes “roughing it” from time to time, whether that’s skateboarding, paddle boarding, living in a cot in North Africa, or giving in to her wild obsession with insects. Ashley’s traveled the world, but her connection to Savannah remains established. A place she affectionately calls magical and eerie, filled with ghosts that she’s convinced don seersucker. “We are invested in our community,” she stated. “We really are part of this city’s history and current movement.”
How she defines Southern hospitality: "You can’t walk down the street here without half a dozen people stopping to chat with you and inviting you over for dinner or a cocktail. Everyone smiles and says hello. This tradition is ingrained and transcends in us Savannahians wherever we go. You can take a girl out of the South, but you can never take the South out of a girl."
How women dress in the South: "Southern style is about being elegant and chic, but also strong and a bit eccentric. Listen, it’s not about the amount of clothing; it’s how you present yourself. You can be an ultimate glamour girl in your swimsuit here. It is about attitude and presence; that is Southern style in my book. It’s often a competition to see who’s the most incredibly dressed!"
Daniel is an entrepreneur and owner of the company, Track My Leads. Describing himself as the sensitive one of the group and attuned to other’s feelings, Daniel is a details-oriented person who will help someone when they’re lost, and by that same token, buy them a shot at the bar to make them feel welcome. He resents the notion that Savannah is “Charleston’s ugly stepchild,” instead he relishes in the fact that Savannah is more "laid back, less gentrified and buttoned-up, creative, adventurous, and sexier, with a real edge."
Favorite places or things to do in Savannah: "I think the most undersold part of Savannah is the water—the tidal creeks, the river, the boat, access-only beaches—it’s really an incredible scene."
How he's finding his own lane while forging his family's old path: "My ancestors were pioneers; they pushed the boundaries and worked hard to establish themselves professionally while always staying true to their beliefs. They fought hard for what they believed in and didn’t sacrifice their roots or traditions for success. I think I really embrace that. I will always stand by my family and our roots, but I also think it’s important for me to be true to myself, whether it's bringing traditions to a whole new world or pioneering a marketing frontier, I will never forget who I am or where I came from."
The self-described Southern belle of the bunch who, despite being private, took a step outside of her comfort zone to participate in the show. Catherine loves to dance and has worked in New York, but her anchor is very much Savannah and this core group of friends. "While there is never a good show without drama, I hope viewers will also see the importance of the principals and values of which we were raised, along with the true meaning of family," she stated.
Describing Savannah to someone who's never visited: "Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia, so it comes by its rich history and Southern traditions naturally. Savannah is known for its historic architecture, cobblestone streets, and iconic squares created by founding colonist, James Edward Oglethorpe. Aside from the city's historic aesthetics, one should expect to find true Southern hospitality. After all, we are known as the 'Hostess City of the South.'"
What does it mean to be a modern-day Southern belle?: "I have always embraced traditions, but as a modern-day Southern belle, I am certainly not tethered by them. A modern-day Southern belle is both adhering to the traditions and values of which you were raised, but also encompassing the reality of what it means to make a name for yourself in this fast-paced, equality driven, modern era."
The outdoors enthusiast lives for those moments when he can just feel the breeze on his face while golfing, fishing, playing soccer, or just walking through the woods. What he loves most about Savannah besides its charm, is that it’s eclectic and full of interesting characters. “This city was built with strong bones," he stated. "The layout by James Oglethorpe is just as impressive today as it was in 1733. The history and architecture have been so well preserved—it’s easy to see why this place has been popular for almost 300 years.” And we couldn’t agree more.
Other places he'd live in the South: "Asheville. A little change of pace never hurt anyone, and Asheville is right off the Blue Ridge Mountains—arguably the prettiest place on the east coast."
Which Southern tradition he loves: "As strange as it sounds, I have always paid attention to how a couple walks down the street together. A true Southern gentleman will always walk closest to the street, protecting his partner from whatever danger may be out there."
And which one is he willing to break: "Whoever said you can’t wear white pants after Labor Day is dead and gone now, right?"
The Atlanta native, who previously worked in cosmetics, moved to Savannah for a new job in the trucking industry. As the newbie of the group, it’s been challenging finding her own way in what she describes as a "hauntingly beautiful" city, but spending so much time with the other cast members, including boyfriend Louis, has made the process slightly easier. The experience has also helped Hannah to become more independent and self-sufficient. And one thing you'll be surprised to find out you have in common with Hannah is her obsession with Southern favorite Duke's Mayonnaise.
On choosing between Charleston and Savannah: "Charleston for the weekend, Savannah for a lifetime."
Her definition of Southern charm and hospitality: "The front door is always open, and you’ve always got something to eat, something to drink, and something to say!"
Favorite places to go and things to do: "Some of my favorite places to hang out in Savannah are Collins Quarter and the Wyld dock bar. I love to go on the boat in the summertime. Also, going on my walks every evening, listening to music, and strolling around the squares and Forsyth park—it’s a scenic exercise!"
Louis works in business and finance. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather. He started JL the Brand in 2011, which is a luxurious collection of men’s dress socks. Like most Southerners, he loves football season, cocktails and oysters, and the beach. You should also tune in to see how his relationship develops with girlfriend and fellow castmate, Hannah.
Describing Savannah: "Savannah is a very unique city immersed with tons of culture. Life here moves at a much slower pace, which is quite enjoyable for anyone vacationing here. The people are very inviting, and the crowd—contrary to popular belief—is very eclectic. If New Orleans and Charleston had a baby, we would call her Savannah!"
Where else he'd live in the South: "I would have to say New Orleans. I love the people, food, and culture. Uptown New Orleans reminds me of a smaller Savannah, from the architecture to the vibe."
How growing up in Savannah prepared him for business and to be a Southern gentleman: "I was raised to understand that success does not—and will never—come easy. All of the men on both sides of my family are in different businesses, and I feel I inherited a great work ethic. Also, being raised with an older sister and many female cousins, I learned very early on how to treat a lady and put them first. Honestly, I think these gentlemanly traits have been qualities we all inherited growing up in the South."