'RHOM's Alexia Echevarria on 'Caliente' Season 4 and the 'Friend of' Bringing the Biggest Drama (Exclusive)

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Feel the rush? Yes, The Real Housewives of Miami is finally back on TV with season 4, nearly eight years after last signing off... but OG star Alexia Echevarria says she always had a feeling she and the women of South Beach would be back for more. She just didn't know they'd be back as Peacock's first full-out Housewives franchise.

"I was that girl that from the beginning -- I never said it was canceled, we were never asked back for whatever reason," Alexia notes to ET, speaking over video chat from her Miami mansion. "I knew that we would be back on TV. ... So many years have passed, but I felt like... I don't want to say I was born to do this, right? But I feel like everybody tells me, 'You were born to do this.' And I always have a story. I'm one of those girls that, no matter what happens, whenever the show comes around, whenever the cameras are around, the show revolves around my life. My life doesn't revolve around the show. And because I have such an interesting life -- for real -- and like, it's so eventful you always get really good things about me and about my life and my family."

Alexia is joined by a number of fellow original 'Wives -- season 1 (and at that time, done) star Larsa Pippen and season 2 addition Lisa Hochstein return as full-time Housewives, while Adriana de Moura (who sings the show's theme song, the only Housewife to do so) and Marysol Patton are back as "friends of" the cast. Just don't let that designation fool you. Alexia says the cast assignments don't directly correlate to involvement, as was quite evident from the explosive trailer Peacock dropped earlier this month.

"I don't really think that your title really determines how much participation you get," she confesses. "And I feel like [Adriana] knows that, too. So it was kind of like, 'I'm going to go for it every single time that we're all together,' because I think this is who she is. I think that she can't be any different."

Adriana delivers one of the most-talked about moments from the super tease, an extended drag/read/attack on Larsa and her one-time affiliation with the Kardashian family: "You left this group of women, come back with a butt as big as Kim Kardashian's, trying to become the new Kim Kardashian, which you're never gonna be!"

"That's, like, the formula, the show: There's always a drama causer, and I want to feel like it's Adriana," Alexia admits. "I feel like Adriana's always the one that doesn't really care. She throws the bomb. She's, like, the shocker, right? So I feel like she does that."

"Like when, when [she] starts with that, I was like, 'Oh God!' Like, 'Here we go again,' right?" she adds. "I feel like women that really engage in that is because they're a little bored with their lives and they have time for that. When I get together with the girls, I just want to like have fun and talk and stuff like that. But again, if I Adriana's in the group? Beware."

Guerdy Abraira, Adriana de Moura, Alexia Echevarria and Kiki Barth film The Real Housewives of Miami
Eugene Gologursky / Peacock

Alexia also promises some call-backs to early RHOM drama. The "She beat me to the tweet!" argument from season 2 gets a run for its money thanks to some sort of disagreement over Instagram, while OnlyFans is a hot topic of conversation from the start.

"I mean, just the whole social media thing," Alexia groans. "I remember in 2010 when we started, there wasn't even Instagram or at least I didn't have it. I didn't even have Facebook back then. I mean, I'm not a big social media person, I just don't like it for whatever reason."

As for Marysol, Alexia was more than happy to have her partner in crime back for this rebooted journey. Alexia calls the PR professional her "best friend." She was also happy to welcome Lisa and Larsa back into the fold.

"I always believe if Larsa would have spent more time in Miami, she needed to be with us," Alexia offers. Larsa exited the series after its first season (which was turned into a Real Housewives series in edit, but filmed more as a dinner party/social club show) to spend more time in Chicago, where her family was based most of the year. 

"She's always been so relevant throughout the years," Alexia notes of her co-star, whose profile exploded in the years after her time on RHOM. Many viewers may feel like they're meeting a whole new woman when Larsa enters on season 4, but Alexia promises she's still the same person at heart.

"We go through different stages as a woman, as a wife, as a mother," Alexia says. "I feel like you'll see another side to her, because the media portrays her only one side, [and] sometimes the media could be very one-sided, even with myself. You're going to see a different Alexia and it's really not different. It's just a different time in my life."

The cast of The Real Housewives of Miami season 4

While RHOM's season 4 line-up features many familiar (and, well, some refreshed) faces, there is one noticeably missing: Lea Black, the quirky socialite who acted as both glue and punching bag for her castmates in seasons 1 through 3. She's largely living in Los Angeles now, but that's not the only reason why she's not back... at least according to Alexia.

"Lea [not returning] didn't surprise me," she says. "I feel like everybody has a time period -- and she was a big part of the show in seasons one through three -- but eight years have happened, and what really keeps the show going are the women's relationships. And honestly? She doesn't have a relationship with any of us. It would've been weird if they would've brought her because she really doesn't have a relationship with any of us. And I feel that that's such a key factor in this kind of show. At the end-- you can have a disagreement, you can have your opinion, you can fight about it, but at the end it has to be that bond."

The other side of the coin is the amount of personal story each 'Wife brings to the table, and Alexia comes with plenty. When viewers last saw the "Cuban Barbie" in action, she was rebuilding her life to an extent. Alexia took a step back from the cast in season 2, appearing in a limited role as she figured out the new normal at home with her youngest son, Frankie, who suffered brain damage in a severe car accident. She came back as a full-time co-star in season 3, which documented Frankie's recovery as well as the aftershocks a family faces in the wake of personal tragedy. Her eldest son, Peter, was acting out repeatedly, getting in trouble with the law as he processed his emotions around his little brother's life not being what anyone could have pictured.

"I'm very excited to show my son Frankie," Alexia gushes of what's to come in season 4. "I want to show everyone the progress that he's made. That's why I always really wanted the show to come back, because I know so many people prayed for him. And so many people were rooting for us as a family. That, to me, was important to give those families that are going through it that hope, and to show that he's a miracle and that he's healthy and he's happy and he's my life."

"He's such a big part of my life," she continues. "And I have a new business, Alexia and Frankie's Beauty Bar. So, he works with me there."

Both sons make appearances in the first episodes, immediately catching longtime fans up on the strides they've made over the last near-decade.

"Peter has evolved," Alexia promises. "He's 29 years old ... and I can say that he's he's a great kid. He has a great heart and he's done well. I mean, he has his real estate license. He went to Paris. He studied there. But his brother's accident affected him so much that it still affects him today. I know there's times that we're together as a family, like I just see Peter, tears are dropping down his face because he feels like, 'Oh my God. My brother. My brother wouldn't have the accident, he would be here today. He would be doing this with me, he would be doing that.' So I feel it's something that you never recover from at all."

Five years after Frankie's accident, another life-changing shock hit Alexia and her sons: the death of her estranged husband, Herman Echevarria. The two separated in 2015, but never divorced. 

"Herman was [the boys'] stepfather for so many years, he was in our lives 15, 16, 17 years," Alexia reflects. "That was hard for [Peter], as well. It was a big loss for our family. He was like the patriarch, and even though we were separated, we were in great terms and we clearly loved each other and we were in each other's lives. He loved my kids, my kids adored him. So it was a big loss."

"We just couldn't accept that, either," she says. "I mean, it was just a healthy man that's so much involved in our life, and then all of a sudden, like, he's not? It's hard."

The details of Alexia and Herman's separation and realities of their relationship will play out as season 4 airs, with speculation about Herman's sexuality and the circumstances of his death called into question. Today, there is a new man in Alexia's life, her fiancé Todd Nepola, the first "gringo" she's ever been in a serious relationship with; their bumpy journey to the altar is a main theme of season 4, too. As the trailer teases, Todd and Peter don't exactly get along, with threats of getting physical with one another.

"That's tough love," Alexia says of the heated exchange that will play out on a future episode. "You'll have to watch, ... but going through that is something that we needed to do as a family so that we can be here today and obviously all be on good terms and be in a good place for us to get married. Because it's so important. Like, my kids are my life, and so was Todd -- and they're two different kinds of love, but they're the two biggest loves in my life, right?"

"It was so important that I fixed this before getting married," she adds. "It was important for us as a family to do that. And then again, the cameras were here, so they captured all that moment. But so it was tough for me, obviously I'm in the middle. So I'm sure that a lot of women can identify with that situation because it's going on in their own families and in their own lives."

Alexia says the hardest part of returning to reality TV was filming with her family; while other Housewives likely love their time away from the group, Alexia is the opposite. She'd rather be in the mix with the women than capturing the drama unfolding at home. The season leads up to a heartbreaking crescendo, as Alexia's beloved mother died just a day before she and Todd were set to get married.

"It was just very difficult to have to experience that while we were filming," Alexia shares, getting choked up. "Even right after that, a month later -- a lot of people don't know -- Todd's father passed away. The cameras weren't here. We had already wrapped up the show, but unfortunately four weeks later, not even four weeks later, he had a stroke and then he never recovered and he passed away. Like I said, the show revolves around my life. So whatever's going on in my life at that moment, that's where you're capturing and the cameras weren't around, but between him and I, we're still dealing with so much loss. My mom and his father."

"But love wins at the end," she's quick to add. "So we are getting married and hopefully you can see a little bit of that, too."

Overall, Alexia seems to be more excited for The Real Housewives of Miami season 4 than any of the previous seasons, thanks in part to the new cast members joining the fold, many of whom are brought in by Alexia. Guerdy Abraira serves as Alexia's wedding planner, while Julia Lemigova is a close pal -- and the first Real Housewife to identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community in her debut season, a fact Alexia marvels over any time she speaks of her friend.

"I'm so excited about having Julia on the show. The first lesbian -- finally! -- that's married to [tennis superstar Martina Navratilova]," she exclaims. "We have such a diverse and an inclusive and just interesting group of women. Professionals, smart women, moms, good daughters, it's really going to be a really great season."

"It's never going to be, like, the full representation, obviously, of my city, of Miami, but it's a good group of women," she reiterates, "and I think that all of us bring something to the show. We all have a story."

As for how she'd sum up what fans are about to see, Alexia offers this: "It's going to be in Spanish: Caliente!" 

The cast of The Real Housewives of Miami cheers while filming
Jeff Daly / Peacock

The first two episodes of The Real Housewives of Miami's fourth season are now streaming on Peacock. New episodes will premiere weekly on Thursdays.


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