Hilton Head Island native and 'Southern Charm' star Shep Rose talks show's premiere

eshaw@islandpacket.comFebruary 26, 2014 


    "Southern Charm" premieres at 10 p.m. March 3 on Bravo.

Starting next month, South Carolina is getting yet another reality show. "Southern Charm," premiering March 3 on Bravo, will join TV ranks next to TLC's "Myrtle Manor" and CMT's "Party Down South."

Set in Charleston, "Southern Charm" aims a little higher than trailer park antics and beer funnel guzzling, with a cast that prefers to wear seersucker and sip cocktails on porches.

The show advertises itself as a "docu-series" following six singles "struggling with the constraints of (Charleston's) tight-knit, posh society," where "you're only as good as your last garden party."

Not all of the cast is from Charleston, however. One member, Shep Rose, is a Hilton Head Island native.

Rose, 34, grew up in Sea Pines and attended Hilton Head Preparatory School. He now lives in Charleston, which is how he met one of the creators of "Southern Charm" at a party two years ago.

"We had a blast just hanging out and talking. He said he was putting together a show and a year and a half later, we filmed a little sizzle reel and I thought I'd never hear from him again. Turns out, Bravo liked it and wanted to do it," Rose said.

The main thing that separates this South Carolina show from others is that it goes against Southern stereotypes instead of playing them up, Rose said.

"Everybody is fairly educated, and that was, I think, important, because we're able to have conversations with proper grammar and not sort of like a bunch of rednecks shooting pistols in the air and running around."

The so-called sophisticated cast consists of four men and two women. For the men there's Rose; Whitney Sudler-Smith, a director whose mother is a New York City-turned-Charleston socialite; law student and Delaware native Craig Conover; and Thomas Ravenel, a former S.C. state treasurer who resigned in 2007 while facing federal cocaine distribution charges. He was convicted and served 10 months in federal prison. His Bravo bio doesn't mention the drug charges, but it does say he enjoys polo and boating.

The two women on the show are Cameran Eubanks, a "Real World: San Diego" veteran and Anderson native, and Jenna King, an aspiring fashion designer from Sumter.

Rose is one of the cast members with no apparent occupation. His Bravo bio says he is a "raconteur." The jury is out on whether storytelling counts as an actual profession, but Rose was able to convincingly pitch the idea for the restaurant he plans to open up on King Street this month. "It's sort of like a dive bar that serves gourmet hot dogs," he said.

Rose also owns and rents out a condo on Hilton Head, where his parents still live. "I've got a few different things. It's nothing 9-5, nose to the grindstone, which is how I prefer it," he said.

Since the very first plans for "Southern Charm" were announced, the show has gotten a sizable amount of resistance from South Carolinians -- mainly Charlestonians -- who feel it is not an accurate representation of the Holy City. Rose, not one to get his blazers in a bunch, is quick to refute the naysayers.

"There's been some backlash from Old Charleston -- the South of Broad folks -- but my response is that this could have been anywhere," he said. "It could have been in Hilton Head, Savannah, Wilmington (N.C.), any sort of pretty, old city on the coast in the South. It's more about the people than the setting. But Charleston is so beautiful and it's such a cool town that I'm quite glad it happened here."

The setting certainly lends itself to picturesque filming, like when the cast rents a boat in the Charleston Harbor and shoots skeet off the side. Or when they head to Charleston International Airport to hop aboard a private plane to New York.

"There were some scenes that were outrageously ridiculous ... there's just a lot of crazy stuff that I wouldn't have experienced otherwise," Rose said.

The craziness is not limited to expensive recreational activities, however.

There is the requisite partying and boozing, and even some surprising baby daddy drama. In the show's sneak preview, a doctor tells a disheveled Ravenel that he should take a paternity test.

As for Rose, nothing he did on the show was too embarrassing, he said.

"Nothing keeps me up at night, let's put it that way. I went into it knowing that my mom and dad, brothers and sisters and cousins were going to be watching, so I kept that in my mind the whole time," he said. "I love this part of the world and I hope I don't do it any disservice on the show. But I don't think I did. I don't think we did."

Follow Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.

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