The 'Below Deck Mediterranean' fan-favorite is back, leading the cast of an all-new spinoff for Peacock!
Below Deck is going to Oz -- but not the "Over the Rainbow" one, the Australian one!
Below Deck Down Under, a new spinoff of the Bravo hit, brings along a familiar face, franchise fan-favorite -- and native of the Southern Hemisphere -- Aesha Scott. Last seen on Below Deck Mediterranean as a back-up stewardess in season 5, the New Zealand native is rocking an extra couple of stripes this go-around as Down Under's inaugural chief stew.
"I really wanted to be part of another show, because it's just the best thing that's ever happened to me," Aesha confesses to ET over video chat, explaining how this all came about. "So, I just reached back out to Bravo and I was like, 'Hey, I am still doing some yachting, and I really love the experience. Is there anything else coming up?' And they were like, 'Well, actually...' And so it just flowed on from there. And so I'm so glad that I asked."
To gear up for her biggest yachting job yet, Aesha called up her own one-time chief stews -- longtime Below Deck Med star Hannah Ferrier and her season 5 boss, Bugsy Drake -- for some last-minute advice of how to handle the work while also navigating filming it.
"We, obviously, had to quarantine to get into the country -- it was right in [the height of] COVID -- and oh my god, I called Hannah and I was just like, 'And what about this? And what about this?' And, 'We're provisioning this...' And, 'What did your bank look like?' Because it's all just so new, that role with the show, and Hannah was just, honestly, the biggest support. She was amazing. She gave me so many tips and tricks."
"The biggest thing was she was like, 'Just don't worry,'" she adds. "I was like, 'What about this?!' And, 'What about this?!' And she's like, 'The thing is, once the cameras start rolling, you get such an adrenaline rush that you are just so on.' And she's like, 'You're just going to figure it out. Don't stress. You will figure it out.' And I just remembered that, and she's right. The moment the camera started rolling, everything else fizzles away. And you're like, 'Right. I'm here. I'm in it. Let's f**king do this!'"
"And then I also reached out to Bugsy and asked her about her table-scaping," Aesha goes on to share. Bugsy actually published a book about decorating dinner tables after season 5.
"I was like, 'How the hell do you make your tables look so good?!'" Aesha recalls. "And so she flipped me through a bunch of tables that she'd done, and she gave me some tips. And I think that that's a really beautiful thing about this franchise, is we really are all one family. And it doesn't matter if you've been on multiple seasons and you're this total Below Deck guru, or if you're brand new, or whatever. We all reach out to each other, and we just have so much love for each other, because we're in the same really unique boat."
The yachting world is already small, the Below Deck world within that world even smaller. Aesha says her Down Under crew totally felt like a family, annoying sibling included in the form of Chef Ryan McKeown.
"Every chef I've worked with is like a toddler, and you have to treat them that way," Aesha admits. "Ryan definitely knew how to press some buttons, and I'm not quite sure if my management experience was quite up to him a lot of the time. So it's good training for me, too. Learning how to manage all different kinds of people."
The trailer for the series promises plenty of heated moments between Chef Ryan and the rest of the Down Under crew. In one instance, he tells Aesha to "stick to vacuuming" when she comes to him with concerns. Aesha also hints to ET that a "who" drives her to tears (as teased in the first look), and all signs point to Ryan.
"There's just a situation me and my role is questioned a little bit," she offers. "And when you mix that with sleep deprivation and a couple of drinks, it's never going to end well."
Captain Jason Chambers also gets into it with the hot-headed cook, warning him, "I don't want your attitude. If you bring it up three decibels, I'll bring it up four, OK?"
"There definitely are going to be some tensions and some drama in all departments, and it's actually quite entertaining for me, because I obviously missed a lot of this stuff," Aesha remarks. "But at the same time, we also have so many good vibes, and we all really, for the most part, we did act like a family."
Aesha credits Captain Jason for maintaining that energy onboard. The hunky commander ("Everyone is just salivating over him now!" Aesha cracks) might be the most involved Captain in all the Below Deck world.
"I love him!" Aesha gushes. "He's like a big brother, not really a captain. He's not about that. If he has to, he'll come in-- and he is the boss, but he's not about that hierarchy in the sense of like, 'I'm in this department. You're in this department. You're in this department. We'll just stick to our jobs and do it.' He wants us all to be a team. We're a family. We help each other out. And he really led by example. He was never, ever in the wheelhouse. He was always walking around the boat, seeing where he could help, ironing, rubbish, plates, helping outside, wiping down, whatever he could do. He was there to help. And it really made a difference."
That help was much appreciated by Aesha, who struggled a bit to keep her stewardesses -- Tumi Mhlongo and Magda Ziomek -- on duty. Well, at least Magda, who fights back at Aesha's claim she "works slow" in the supertease.
"I always thought that I was really good at managing people, and I think that for the most part I am, but I think that I have a lot to learn, too," Aesha reflects. "I think I just didn't realize how different everyone is, and how different their needs are, and how differently you have to communicate to each person based on their personality, which sometimes I struggle with, because there are a couple people where you have to coddle them a bit more or be a bit more sensitive."
"I've always been so job-focused," she adds. "I respect the hierarchy so much that if my chief stews ever came to me and said, 'Hey, you didn't do this great. Could you do this?' Even if I knew 100 percent that they were wrong and that I was in the right, no matter what, you bite your tongue, you shut up. And you go, 'Yes, I'm so sorry. I won't do it next time.' That's it. And so I think it's difficult dealing with people where you can't be that straight up, because they're going to be a bit sensitive about it."
Aesha also didn't realize how much brainpower went into running a department.
"I just was surprised how much you have to think all the f**king time!" she exclaims. "I didn't really realize until I stepped into it that my brain was just like, woo, woo, woo, woo, woo, constantly. And so my only concern was that-- I was saying to my boyfriend a couple weeks in-- I was like, 'I hope that I'm as fun as people remember me,' because it's just hard to be silly in the moment when you're responsible for so many moving parts on the boat, including your own."
That boyfriend is Scott Dobson, a fellow Kiwi whom Aesha met stateside nearly two years ago. The pair recently returned to New Zealand full-time (after exploring the U.S. in an old ambulance converted into an RV), and are planning their life together. He'll take her last name -- and become Scott Scott -- should they one day get married.
"He was so supportive, honestly," Aesha says of her return to TV, which seemingly inspired the move back home. "He knows that this is my dream, and all my dreams are coming true. So he said to me, he's like, 'I'm your last priority in this. You're there. You focus on your job. You don't have to message me back. Don't stress about me or anything. You just be there, and be present, and do it.' And having someone there who is that supportive and that secure, it really just made the world of difference."
"If I was trying to film and I had a guy there who was jealous, or worrying about me going out with guys, and living in close quarters with guys and drinking with them, it just would've made everything [hard]," she adds. "There's already so much pressure. It just would've been too much. So I'm really grateful to have someone that's so secure in himself and in our relationship."
Aesha says she and Scott are in "no rush" to officially settle down, saying their timeline for marriage and kids is still at least five years out.
"And then you know what I was thinking?" she asks. "Even when I do eventually have kids, I still should come on [Below Deck] anyway, and then do some sort of pregnancy announcement, and that'll be a twist!"
Until then, fans can watch Aesha in action as chief stew. She promises Below Deck Down Under lives up to its predecessors -- and adds to the experience, providing quite possibly the most beautiful background in the shows' history.
"I think a lot of people think of Australia as dry, desert-y place with some really big cities dotted in there," she notes. "But where we were, it was so insanely tropical. You could be in the Maldives, or Fiji or some sort of tropical island, and that's where it looked like. And I personally, even I didn't realize how tropical some of Australia was. So I think seeing that was really, really cool."
She also got to live out a second dream while working her dream job, diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Cameras captured the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"It's just such a stunning part of the world," Aesha marvels. "So getting that chance, I was just in awe."