'RHOC's Shannon Beador on Heather Dubrow's Return and Sparking Unexpected Season 16 Drama (Exclusive)

'The Real Housewives of Orange County' star discusses being 'alone on an island,' navigating a cast shakeup and more.

Season 16 of The Real Housewives of Orange County is feeling sweet for Shannon Beador, but she admits the first few episodes might paint her as sour.

"It's a bit of bumpy start, but I think that I'm in a good place," the veteran RHOC star tells ET during a sit-down chat at her Newport Beach home. "You know, I do have tough moments throughout the season, but I don't know... I just, I feel that personally I'm in a good place in my life, so I don't think I'm as reactive as I might've been in a few seasons past. So I'm more open to reconciling and not wasting energy on arguing. How mature is that?"

Season 16 is Shannon's eighth as an orange-holder, making her the show's longest standing current cast member. She's now survived two major cast shake-ups back to back; the first saw longtime stars Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge exit the series at the end of season 14 (effectively ending the "Tres Amigas" friendship group, Shannon being the third of that trio). The second, and more major, came after season 15, which the cast filmed in 2020 before and amid the height of COVID-19 pandemic. After lackluster reviews from fans and an extended hiatus, Bravo announced Shannon's closest remaining friend on the show, Kelly Dodd, as well as newer additions Braunwyn Windham-Burke and Elizabeth Lyn Vargas would not return for season 16.

"Oh, I was on an island," Shannon says, speaking to both the start of season 15 and season 16. She and Kelly were not close going into last season, but found their way to friendship by season's end. They're still on good terms -- and still neighbors -- but Shannon notes they don't speak about the show. 

"I think when I started the show, I don't like change, so it was hard for me to adapt to new cast members," she reflects. "And I did clash with a few of them. But I feel that as I am maturing at 57, that I'm more open to meeting new people. And I think the last few years I have been more open to that. But it's hard, and if you wanna be on a show like this, you want it to be successful, too. So it's hard when you bring in a lot of new people because you don't know how it's gonna go."

"I felt comfortable that Heather was coming back, so I thought, OK, well, we have a bond," Shannon then notes.


Heather is, of course, Heather Dubrow, who previously starred on RHOC from seasons 7 through 11. She exited after one shared season with Kelly, whose behavior Heather once described as "low, base bulls**t." Many viewers saw the swap -- outrageous, outspoken Kelly for "fancy pants" Heather -- as a sign of where the show was headed in this new era. A piece of the past to move the series forward.

At the start of season 16, Shannon is Heather's only connection to the show -- the only Housewife left standing from her original time on the cast, which was marked with highs and lows. The iconic "We're done. Please leave." fight from season 9, Shannon's first on the show, comes to mind.

"You know, we started off on a bad foot, but we ended up friends," Shannon says of Heather's original time as a Bravo 'Wife. "As far as I was concerned, I'm happy that she's back, and I think she brings a lot to the show, as far as her lifestyle. And as I got to know Heather over the few years that we did film together, she's very fun."

It seems Heather's memory of where she left things off with Shannon isn't quite the same as the Real for Real Cuisine founder's, though. In the premiere, Heather speaks about never being close with Shannon, and questions if she's ready to dive back into a friendship with her at all. She also makes a crack about Shannon's maiden name, Storms, and how that sums up Shannon: a storm of a woman.

"[A storm] of fun!" Shannon cracks back to ET. "I'm gonna take the definition of storm in a positive way."

"I'm just gonna say, my idea walking into this season was gonna be, you know what? I'm gonna just take a step back and be fun and silly and smile and get along with everyone, and I'm really not gonna get involved in drama," she goes on to offer. "Well, welcome to episode one."

"Honestly, what happens in the beginning of this season, you can't script," she adds. "I mean it's like, I still can't believe it. I can't grasp it."

Nicole Weingart / Bravo

While fans will have to tune in to see just exactly what unfolds in the first hour of RHOC's big return, teasers hint at what's to come. In one promo touting Heather's return, Shannon tells her co-star, "I am a very trustworthy person," to which Heather replies, "You're not!" before slamming her hand on a camera lens and delivering a very curt "no" to the camera operator. There's a good chance viewers will walk away from the premiere wondering if Shannon is a "villain" this season, with allegations of masterminding some sort of takedown plot thrown around by episode's end. 

"Thank you for that label," she chides. "You know what? I'll never forget this. I was labeled a 'bully' after [season 11], and I was doing Watch What Happens Live, and I said to [Real Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen], 'I'm just getting trashed.' And he said, 'Shannon, it took me about nine years to have this stuff roll off.' I think it's taking me less time [now]. It's like, you know what? I know who I am. My family, my loved ones, my friends, they know who I am, and I would never want to hurt somebody ... and if they don't believe me, then there's nothing I can do about it."

Shannon does admit what unfolds at the first all-cast event was "no bueno" for rebuilding her friendship with Heather.

"It's kind of, like, square one," Shannon says. "Or even beyond, negative."

Social media posts from over the course of filming -- and flashes of moments from the trailer -- suggest the two move past the initial drama, though, but not before co-stars Gina Kirschenheiter and Emily Simpson (Shannon's fellow season 15 survivors) get roped into it. In the supertease, Heather tells the duo that Shannon warned her they were "not to be trusted," leading to confrontations between Emily and Shannon, and Gina and Shannon.

"We speak, we're good,” Shannon offers up when pressed on where she stands with the two now. "I mean, I'm really good with Emily. We have a lot fun together this season so that’s— we have a lot of silly moments, which I think [have] been missing from the show for the last couple of years. So I think it's fun to bring that in."

Yes, according to Shannon, both "Fun Emily" and "Fun Shannon" come out to play in season 16. As for Gina, while Shannon reiterates that they too are "good," it’s seemingly a harder road for the pair, as Gina inserts herself into (and sort of even kicks off) Shannon's initial drama with Heather. As for speculation that Shannon is jealous of Gina and Heather's (unexpected) bond as teased in the season first look, Shannon calls it "ludicrous." 

Nicole Weingart / Bravo

"I'm so busy right now," she explains. "I am running my company -- I have office space now, so I'm away from home -- and I literally schedule my day in 15-minute increments, so I don't have time to be jealous. I don't."

Shannon found herself an unanticipated ally of her own, though, in newcomer Noella Bergener, a one-time friend of Braunwyn.

"OK, first of all 'was' is an operative word, because I don't think they are friendly anymore," Shannon notes. "I was a little bit weary, thinking if they were such [good] friends.... but I did find out an important piece of information: that Braunwyn told Noella that she made up the 'Shannon said Gina's house is sad and depressing' [comment from last season], so I'm exonerated! Finally. I didn't say it."

Noella joined the cast just before her life seemingly imploded. Viewers will watch the young mom navigate a surprise split from her husband, James.

"I believe that she's an open book, and she has a lot going on in her life as we start the season, and I feel sorry for her," Shannon rattles off about her new co-star. "I empathize with her, and it's, it's tough. She's blindsided and I can't imagine being in that position."

Shannon went through her own tough breakup on camera, separating from, then reconciling with and ultimately divorcing her husband, David, over the course of her first few years on the show. She's now happily dating businessman John Janssen, who fans will get to know more this season.

"Our circumstances are a little bit different, and to be honest with you, I think she was blindsided more than I was, and that's why I have empathy for her -- and I still do have that empathy," Shannon says, noting she "tried to" guide Noella through the process in the public eye.

Nicole Weingart / Bravo

Then there's Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, a local plastic surgeon who also has a history with Braunwyn. She was even a guest at her vow renewal ceremony last year on the show.

"I mean, that would be tough, to Braunwyn's defense," Shannon says of two friends replacing her, in a way. "That would be tough."

"I didn't get to know her very well at the beginning," she adds of Dr. Jen. "And my first impressions -- and I've said this often -- ballsy. Ballsy. A go-getter. But now that we've gotten to know her better, I really get along. I really like her."

With new friendships formed and a whole season set to relive, Shannon hopes the viewers find it entertaining -- and a make good of sorts for season 15.

"Can I just tell you, we filmed for five weeks, and a show was put together with five weeks of footage. We did our best," she declares of the COVID-impacted season. "I think the pandemic taught us a lot, that what's important in life, and holding negative energy and arguing with people, that's just so silly." 

"In the end, I don't think anyone wants to fight, you know?" she poses. "When you get, what is it? Six opinionated women together, you're going to have some sort of conflict. But for us to be able to resolve it and move on, it's just, you know, I think back to certain seasons-- and I was guilty of some of it! Like, 'I'm never gonna forgive her. I'm not gonna move forward.' We all have to move forward."

"[This season], you're gonna get it all!" she promises. "You're gonna laugh, you're gonna get upset, you'll get frustrated with people -- maybe me -- and so, I think you're gonna get it all. It's entertaining."


The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo, kicking season 16 off with a supersized premiere on Dec. 1. Come back to ETonline.com after the show for more from Shannon, including her side of the story regarding the drama that explodes in the final few minutes