Natalya Scudder is setting clear boundaries after experiencing 'the most drama' on 'Below Deck Mediterranean' season 8.
Natalya Scudder is back for round two of Below Deck Mediterranean, returning for her second season as stewardess for the series' eighth excursion.
Last season, fans watched as Natalya struggled with chief stewardess Natasha Webb's management style (or, lack thereof) and cliquey bond with Natalya's fellow second stew, Kyle Viljoen, leading to some intense dust-ups among the trio.
"I held off for way too long about confronting Natasha and Kyle about how I was feeling with the work duties," Natalya reflects with ET, speaking over video chat. "This year, I definitely approach it very quickly, and it does not work out for me."
Natalya's foes are once again her own team; new chief stew Tumi Mhlongo, whom fans first met on the Down Under spinoff, and Kyle, who's back for his second stint on TV, too.
"There's definitely people I just would never work with again," she teases of her sophomore season takeaway. "If someone just disrespects me, doesn't treat me how I would treat them, I am not going to sit there and just be like, 'Oh, just because you are in a higher role than me just means I am going to take it...' Like, I will straight away, I don't bite my tongue. I just say it how it is. Some people really just like that about me, but I do like that about myself."
Natalya admits, when Captain Sandy Yawn first informed her that Kyle was coming back, she was "so excited."
"We had spoken since last season," she shares. "We realized like, oh my god, we were so tired, you know? Like, it's a very intense process, filming, so I went into it very excited. I pushed for us to share a cabin together. I was like, I have a lot of stuff happening in my personal life. I would love if me and Kyle could share ... 'cause I needed support from a familiar face at that time and, yeah, all I can say is I was very excited for him to step on board, but things go pretty sour. But then they go back, and it's up and down again."
When asked if they ended on an up or down note, Natalya only says to take a look at who she is and isn't following on Instagram; Kyle's not listed.
"Absolutely not," she declares. It's not a total shock, seeing as she tells Kyle he's a "horrible human being" in the trailer for the season.
"There is a reason I got to that point," Natalya teases, but goes on to caution the audience from picking sides as their feud plays out.
"I don't want anyone to be like 'Team Natalya' and 'Team Kyle,'" she urges. "We've already dealt with it, and it's just stressful. We are going to have to relive through it all again."
Natalya is adamant she'll "absolutely not" work with Kyle again, hinting that their issues this time around are more personal than professional.
"I am dealing with something to do with, like, a guy that I am dating, and I am in this very different style of relationship that I don't really want, but since it was the first person I have ever said, 'I love you' to, I kind of was, like, convinced to go into this relationship, this open relationship," she explains. "I didn't actually want it, but since I loved him, I would rather have him than not have him, so I ... face a lot of challenges, and difficult phone calls, while also trying to figure out like what I want, as well, and if I can actually do this."
"I was just very confused," she adds. "I really depended on Kyle this season to help me get me through, and then we have a few conversations that also get me quite upset ... and you have a lot of opinions. People get very involved with your business on board, and I think I am very open and honest, and maybe I regret saying some things that I did, like talking so openly about this relationship and my struggles, because a lot of people were not supportive and kind of, like, joke about it."
"It makes it a bit more difficult for me this season," she says. While Natalya started and ended the season with that boyfriend, they've since split.
"We are best friends," she says, "but basically, I can't handle the style of relationship that he wants."
She explored what an open relationship could be for her while filming, getting involved with deckhand Luka Brunton.
"I was so attracted," she confesses. "Like, me and Luka, the first time I meet him, I'm very, like, the chemistry! We're very-- especially Australians and New Zealanders, we actually get along very well. And I felt this chemistry with him and I'm like, but now I feel wrong, because I'm supposed to be in this relationship with this guy... but it's supposed to be open? And I'm like, but what does this mean?"
"I'm just kind of going through my own s**t, while trying to do my job, while trying to deal with everyone's opinions on my relationship," she rattles off. "And, you know, even Captain Sandy, she's like, 'Natalya, he doesn't love you.' Like, 'This isn't normal,' and I'm like, 'You don't understand!' But, I didn't even understand."
Natalya found the supertease for the season a bit surprising, seeing as she cries three times in the three-minute package. She didn't realize she got that emotional this time around. Not all of those tears are born out of her relationship troubles; there's also the work stress. She and Tumi did not gel from the second Tumi came on board, which was a delayed arrival. Natalya stepped in as chief stew for the first charter, while both Tumi and Kyle dealt with visa issues.
"I wrote out a stewardess bible of how the boat should be run and stuff," she notes. "I thought I did everything I could to do like, 'Hey, here is everything set up for you to take over...' and I just felt that maybe I wasn't really appreciated at that time for what I did, and for, like, stepping in very last minute to fill in, while she wasn't there; and I think with our first interaction, it just starts a pretty bad tone for the whole season."
Natalya says she had "no problems" stepping down and actually enjoys not being in a leadership position. However, she does expect respect.
"Unfortunately, if I feel that someone hasn't put in any effort to me or is disrespectful towards me, then, like, I just don't tolerate it. I am not going to be fake nice. I am not going to pretend that we are best friends ... and I think pretty early on, with us meeting, like, I just felt a little bit of disrespect so we kind of see that play out, like, through the whole season of us going back and fourth. We have some good days, but mostly we are at each other's throats."
That said, Natalya would work with Tumi again. "People are going to be confused," she laughs. "This is the most drama I've been involved in."
Below Deck Mediterranean airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.