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Leva Bonaparte on welcoming Naomie Olindo back to ‘Southern Charm’

Bonaparte shares what’s different about her second season and teases all that’s to come.
Southern Charm - Season 8
Chleb Ravenell, Austen Kroll, Olivia Flowers, Leva Bonaparte, Craig Conover, Shep Rose, Kathryn Calhoun Dennis, Naomie Olindo, Venita Aspen, Taylor Ann Green Bravo

Leva Bonaparte’s second season of Southern Charm was “so different” from her first.

Bonaparte is back for Season Eight of Bravo’s ‘Southern Charm,’ alongside resident charmers Craig Conover, Kathryn Dennis, Austen Kroll, Madison LeCroy and Shep Rose along with newcomers Venita Aspen, Taylor Ann Green, Olivia Flowers, Marcie Hobbs and Chleb Ravenell. Bonaparte’s close friend Naomie Olindo will be making a highly anticipated return to the group along with friends Patricia Altschul, Whitney Sudler-Smith and John Pringle. Season Eight premieres Thursday, June 23 at 8 p.m,, and each episode will stream the next day on Peacock.

Bonaparte joined “Southern Charm” during Season Seven, as the Charmers navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. As the first cast member of color on “Southern Charm,” much of Bonaparte’s first season was spent educating her castmates on how their words, actions and surroundings could be more inclusive and welcoming. Now in her second season, Bonaparte is bringing viewers deeper into her family, businesses and friendships.

TODAY sat down with Bonaparte to hear about her return and all that’s to come. 

Southern Charm - Season 8
Leva Bonaparte returns for Season Eight of "Southern Charm."Bravo

Bonaparte loved how different this season felt compared to her first

For Bonaparte, having close friend Olindo back was an experience that she “loved,” as they hadn’t been full-time castmates on the show prior to Olindo’s departure. In addition, Bonaparte said having Flowers join the cast was also an “awesome” experience, as the cast was much larger than her first season.

Bonaparte noted the group had a lot of change this year, with “newcomers, new boyfriends, girlfriends and hookups. It really was a lot.”

“I really think that we’re all coming off these big life decisions, big life changes. I went from, like, doing nothing and being like, ‘is the world ever gonna go back to normal?’ To, ‘holy moly, I can’t even keep enough staff” Bonaparte said.

Jumping back into filming included “recalibrating to being friends in person with people,” which Bonaparte said she did by “generally trying to make it nice” with her castmates … a sentiment that many of the charmers shared. 

Bonaparte said, “we kept saying in our group thread, ‘Let’s have fun here.’ But you know, there’s so many deep rooted friendships, and so many big life things going on.”

Bonaparte plays a role in the drama for Season 8

The Charmers find themselves in drama as usual this season, which Bonaparte attests to “no one being Southern polite.”

Bonaparte continued, “everyone’s really just talking about their feelings. Nobody is sitting at the table and trying to have decorum. Everyone’s like, you know what, eff being déclassé, we’re just going to say how we feel,” a sentiment she thinks viewers will enjoy.

At the end of filming for Season Eight, fan accounts noticed that Bonaparte unfollowed LeCroy, Kroll, Aspen and Conover on Instagram, which Bonaparte hinted was because “there are a lot of big feelings going on at the end.”

“I think people jump into things that are none of their business, which I don’t like. I’m OK with someone mediating because I will always stick my nose in the business of the group. I don’t like when people pile on, like, shut up, there’s already five people screaming at me, you do not need to be the sixth. Like oh, you are so brave. So that’s what I hate, a lot of that was just me being myself. A few of you pissed me off, and I don’t want to like your selfies” Bonaparte shared.

In addition, Bonaparte said that Aspen is the castmate that shocked her the most this year, and noted “I still don’t know where I stand (with her).”

Bonaparte shares why her view on life is 'net positive' from week to week

This year brought “a lot of anxiety” for Bonaparte, as she filmed while managing her reopening restaurant empire and life as a mother. For Bonaparte, it was important to share her journey as she thinks “there’s a lot of people in America that are struggling with that” as well.

As far as how she manages what’s on her plate, Bonaparte said she “hates” the statement “managing it all,” but rather likes to look at life as “net positive” from week to week. 

Bonaparte continued, “I’m doing a lot of peeling it back to essentialism, trying to see if it is really important that my oven is so clean, or is it important that I have a coffee and sit on the porch and just make sure my mental health is okay. I think that I have been striving for perfection in all areas, and I’m learning to give myself a little breathing space.”

Viewers will soon get a deeper look at Bonaparte’s life in her spinoff, ‘Southern Charm: Leva Land,’ which was recently greenlit by Bravo and is currently filming. Bonaparte said that the spinoff is “so real” and that the cast is “hot, cute and perfectly flawed,” which she thinks will resonate well with viewers.

“Sometimes the producers look at me and they’re shocked, and I’m like, this is every day for me. It’s going to just be a different side of Charleston that you don’t get to see on ‘Southern Charm.’ These kids are young, they party a ton. You’re gonna see nightlife, you’re gonna see coastal life, you’re gonna see what people in their 20s are doing and the boats and the beach and nightlife,” Bonaparte teased. 

Bonaparte answers rapid-fire questions about Season 8

Who caused the most drama this season: “I feel like that was equal across the board.” Bonaparte said.

Who challenges her the most this season: Conover

Who throws the best events this season: Altschul

Who she had the most fun with: Olindo

Who spills the most tea: Aspen

“I feel like the person who might be a bone collector would be Venita,” Bonaparte said.