Shep Rose, Austen Kroll on race and politics on ‘Southern Charm’

This season of “Southern Charm” is going into unchartered territory.

“There’s some social justice and Black Lives Matter content and I think it’ll be handled well,” Shep Rose recently told Page Six. “Some [of our cast] more than others were pretty progressive and definitely fair-minded and we understand that we’re all lucky no matter what race or whatever.”

The Bravo series added new cast members Leva Bonaparte, Madison LeCroy and John Pringle into the mix for Season 7, which is currently airing.

Rose, 40, added that while he knows “Southern Charm” isn’t the most “thought-provoking” programming, he hopes it’ll inspire fans to talk about polarizing issues.

“Civil conversation is so important and unfortunately civility is sort of taking a backseat to loud screaming voices and people are even scared to talk about these topics because then you’ll get canceled if you say something remotely, maybe not all that benign, maybe it’s a view you have that maybe could be changed, but you have the view,” he explained.

“So put the view out there and then let’s have an honest discussion about it,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Austen Kroll thinks that discussing these topics may have an adverse effect.

“It’s very interesting to have all this come up because normally it’s like, ‘Let’s keep this out of it. Let’s like not focus on this,’” Kroll, 33, said. “And, you know, we do this year and a couple of the cast members have very strong views and opinions and they’re going to let you know them.”

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He noted that the Bravo series had even been called “white privilege in a show” in the past, which made Bonaparte’s addition this season even more meaningful. Bonaparte is Persian, born in India and was raised in Canada and Bolivia. She moved to Charleston 18 years ago and works with her husband in the city’s nightlife scene.

But he believes that adding diversity isn’t the only solution as he feels “damned if he does [speak up] and damned if he doesn’t [speak up].”

He explained, “Leva owns a couple of businesses on King Street and we had riots, right? And a bunch of windows got smashed out … and I reached out to her the next day and I was like, ‘Hey. I hope that your businesses weren’t affected’ because the business had just reopened post-COVID and these businesses were like starving for money and patrons and this and that … And I was like, ‘Sucks that a peaceful protest turned into such like a senseless act of violence.’

And she was like, ‘Windows can be replaced, but lives can’t.’ And I was like, ‘I was just trying to offer my condolences — like, I hope that your window didn’t get broken. But like, okay sorry.’ That’s how I feel about it. Like you can’t say the right thing, because if you take a stance, there’s always going to be someone that’s like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s not BLM, it’s all lives matter.’ And then if you say all lives matter, then you get crucified for it. It’s such a fine line and it’s so tough to breach.”

“Southern Charm” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.

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