It’s never easy being the new girl in town, but it’s especially difficult if you’re on a Bravo reality show and you’ve moved across the country to be with one of the show’s core members — and all of those core members are not exactly fans of yours. Such is the case for Southern Charm star Ashley Jacobs, who moved from California to Charleston to follow her heart and her man (Thomas Ravenel) across the country. And, let’s just say that the others on Southern Charm are less than impressed with her and her supposed intentions. What does Ashley think of all this drama? She's sharing her side of the story with Bustle.
Turns out that Ashley’s cross-country journey began before she even met Thomas. “People didn’t know that I was ready to move, not necessarily to Charleston, but I was ready to get out of California,” she says. “I was actually interviewing for a job in Las Vegas at the time when I met Thomas.” She and Thomas dated as she interviewed, and finally, the two of them had to make a decision — would she go to Vegas and they could be friends? Or would she go to the East Coast and see if this had a chance?
“I said to Thomas, ‘This is the situation. I’m going to get this job, and I’m not sure if they’re gonna train me and require me to sign a contract [to stay].’ He goes, ‘I don’t think we can pursue a relationship further [if that happens].’ And to be honest with you, I didn’t either. I knew if I was taking a new job, there was no way,” Ashley says.
After a romantic weekend doing “normal things” in Savannah, Thomas implored Ashley to stay. “He said, ‘Why can’t you just try it out here? You can work anywhere you want. What’s the worst that can happen?’” Ashley says. “It was a big risk. But it was also a big risk not to do it.” And as soon as Ashley moved across the country, their relationship was fully on.
“I know that people were saying, ‘Oh, he hooked up with Kathryn,’ but we weren’t exclusive,” Ashley says. “He could do whatever he wanted. As soon as I moved there, we were exclusive. I got all my stuff out there in three weeks, gave my notice, and that was it. And I’m still here.”
After going through the mountain of paperwork to move her nursing licensing over to South Carolina, Ashley has a regular nursing job with regular hours, an apartment, and the beginnings of a life in Charleston. “I think [Thomas and I] are doing better now that I am working," she says. "He respects me more. I’m independent. I’m paying my own rent. He’s ... in a place where if he was to walk away … I would be OK. He knows I don’t need him."
The most complicated point of Thomas and Ashley’s storyline thus far on Southern Charm is their relationship with Kathryn, who is Thomas’ ex and the mother of his two children. From what we’ve seen on the show, Kathryn and Ashley don’t seem to get along. That may not have changed just yet, especially after, during their group trip to Hilton Head, Ashley confronted Kathryn over not being invited to Kathryn's son Saint's birthday party. In a moment of retaliation, Ashley proclaimed that she sees Kathryn's children more than Kathryn does and that, when Saint was in the hospital, Kathryn didn't visit him once. (Kathryn said this is due to the fact that Thomas has full custody of the children.)
Kathryn stayed calm the whole time, which is a considerable change since the beginning of her time on Southern Charm — as Whitney said, the Kathryn of just a few years ago would have grabbed a fork and started stabbing. This outburst didn't make Ashley any friends — the cast spent the rest of the episode speaking about how out of line they thought Ashley was and how much they disliked her. It's notable, too, that Thomas didn't want to jump in until Danni forced him to intervene. Ashley's outburst is particularly surprising, given the sweet, gentile persona she portrayed in this interview.
When speaking to Bustle, Ashley is much more diplomatic in reference to Kathryn than she was in Hilton Head. “You know, I think the only thing I can really say about [my relationship with Kathryn] is that I don’t think that Thomas has had a real, serious relationship since her, and so I think this is all a learning process for everyone including her."
These days, Ashley is singing a different tune that one she did on the show. “To to be fair to Kathryn, I think anyone, when you get involved with someone’s children, [would want to meet me] before [the kids] spend some time investing in me. She wants to make sure I’m here to stay. I’m just trying to be fair to her,” Ashley says now.
For now, Ashley is putting her energy into her relationship with Thomas, who has been the focus of a series of sexual assault allegations, all of which he vigorously denies. According to People, Thomas was accused of allegedly sexually assaulting Debbie Holloway Perkins, whom he met on Tinder, in 2015. In addition, according to FITSNews, another woman came forward with similar accusations that allegedly occurred in January 2015. Thomas denied the allegations in a statement from his lawyer. “My client enjoys a certain degree of fame and unfortunately has become — unfairly — a target for an individual who has, in my opinion, dubious motivations,” Thomas' attorney, Richard P. Terbrusch, told People.
Of the allegations, Ashley says, "I can’t comment on that,” turning the conversation back to her relationship with Thomas — and what the cameras don't see.
“We’re funny. We have fun. We laugh a lot. We tease each other a lot. It’s really playful and that keeps it really fun. There’s never a dull moment. Thomas and I, we’re very touchy. We love to hold hands. We love to sit on the same side of the restaurant next to each other … we’re always together,” she says. “He’s very romantic, and we watch movies, he loves things that are heartfelt ... Love stories! He would rather watch Titanic ... he looks for the deeper meanings in things," she insists.
Here, Ashley paints a different picture of Thomas than what Southern Charm viewers may recall about his antics. In the past, he's made jokes about slipping Plan B into her breakfast in the morning, said that marriage is a waste if you can "get the milk for free," and proclaimed that he's a man that can be controlled by no woman. But Ashley is quick to defend against those moments, too. “His jokes that he makes, like about Plan B … he does that for a reaction. He’s not that person. He says things to stir the pot because that’s why [the producers] like him. He says it because he gets in the moment, but he’s not that person,” Ashley says, adding, “He would never do that to me.”
Now that Ashley is settled in Charleston, she insists that she and Thomas have a normal life. Despite any drama on the show or in reference to the sexual assault allegations against Thomas, Ashley says that the couple is getting up, going to the gym, going to work, and just spending time together. “I think when we’re together, we’re stronger,” Ashley says of Thomas, placing any blame of struggle outside of their relationship. "When we’re apart, people try to get between us.”
While that's what Ashley is saying, it remains to be seen if anyone watching Southern Charm will believe it. Her Hilton Head rant didn't earn Ashley many friends in the cast — Shep even said that he couldn't stand her, and Shep gets along with everyone.
Ashley has made it clear that she's only looking inward, and she's not interested in what others say about her and her relationship.