Alexia Nepola is back for season 5 of 'The Real Housewives of Miami,' which finds her more in the mix -- and more in the drama!
The Cuban Barbie is ready for play time.
"You're gonna see an Alexia that's more involved with the girls, more opinionated -- and has a lot to say," Alexia Nepola (née Echevarria) confesses to ET over video chat, speaking ahead of The Real Housewives of Miami's season 5 premiere.
Season 4 largely centered on Alexia's journey to the altar to say "I do" to her longtime love, Todd Nepola, after years of COVID delays. Then, on the eve of their wedding, Alexia's mother died, forcing the nuptials to be put on pause once again.
"Season 5 is a happy time in my life, where I'm celebrating my wedding," she says. One of season 5's first group events is Alexia's wedding party, a soirée aboard a mega-yacht that stands in for the festivities originally planned by co-star Guerdy Abraira for season 4 -- a de facto delayed reception after Alexia and Todd opted to elope instead of have a big ceremony. However, Guerdy didn't plan this do-over event (maybe by choice, maybe by force), sparking some unexpected drama early on in the new batch of episodes.
"She surprised me the most, and I was disappointed with her, as well," Alexia shares. "The thing is she doesn't stop. She doesn't stop with me. It's like, OK, I get it!"
The trailer teases a fiery altercation between the two, which Alexia says is just one of many dust-ups they have over their disagreements over planning her wedding, both times.
"It starts by her kind of pulling out from doing the wedding party," she explains, "kinda blaming me, because of a comment that she says I said, or I made, which is not really true, because I can feel the same way about her and say, 'Well, you don't want to do my wedding party now? Because you have a different interest, and you used me for season 4, so you can have a story.'"
"I was just surprised by the fact that she wanted nothing to do with it," Alexia adds. "Then we already-- I think that I moved forward, and then every time I see here it's, like, an attack. Every time I see her, an attack, and then she wants to call me 'dismissive,' and that I'm 'entitled.' No, like, if you're going to speak, speak the truth."
Alexia says Guerdy and at least some of her fellow "newbies" -- Dr. Nicole Martin, Julia Lemigova and Kiki Barth -- have a "preconceived notion" about the OGs: herself, Marysol Patton, Adriana de Moura, Larsa Pippen and Lisa Hochstein.
"The newbies came in thinking like, 'Oh, because you think you're an OG, you think you're this...' and, 'You think you're like that...' It's all in your head," Alexia claps back. "I didn't create that for you."
Alexia says if anyone is acting a certain way because of their position on the TV show, it's the newcomers.
"I think Guerdy came in with a different attitude like, 'OK, now, I'm going to be like this...' and she already had, in her head, set the way they want Guerdy to be, the way she wanted Guerdy to be, and the way she wants the viewers to see her. So you'll see a whole new Guerdy, by the way -- and I think Nicole, as well."
"The only one that's not [changed from season 4] is Kiki," she clarifies. "Kiki is just her fun self, and you know she has a lot to say this season, which I love because I know her personally, and I know there's a lot going on in there."
There's friction within the original RHOM crew, though. Marysol teased a major "OG breakup" by season's end.
"People need to own responsibility and accountability, and not blame other people," Alexia offers when asked about it. "I don't want to do the spoiler. You have to watch, but like all friendships, there's friends that are friends forever, and they get into a major fight and won't talk for two or three years, and then they're back to being friends again. So that's what maybe happens with our group."
It takes a whole season to get to that point, though -- and there are plenty of issues along the way. One hint comes in the trailer, with Alexia and Adriana getting into it over a yet-to-be-revealed allegedly "slanderous" comment made by Alexia.
"How can you not get into it with Adriana?" she asks. "It was a matter of time. Like, I knew she was coming for me. I'm not stupid. So with Adriana, I guess lucky for me, she apparently felt sorry for me all my life, you know, and all the things I've gone through, so I was never the person she wanted to attack. But this season, because she sees me happy with Todd, and married, and everything going well for me, she went for me. So you know that's what happened. That's typical Adriana behavior."
Alexia and Adriana's issue blows up into a full group battle, with Nicole chiming in to play "the world's tiniest violin," a move that pushes Alexia to call her "pathetic."
"You'll see clearly the division in the group," she promises. "Like, one team against another team -- which I hate, by the way, because it shouldn't be that way, you know? Just because I've known Marysol, I've been good friends with Marysol for so many years ... doesn't mean that I can't become friendly with the new girls in the group, because friendship is not based on the amount of years you've known somebody."
"I feel that that that's what's happening in the group," Alexia continues. "It's kind of like they just want to knock us over, and just blame [every issue] on us."
Alexia agrees she felt "under attack from all angles" throughout the season, but the real focus of this year is on Lisa's life and the unexpected end of her marriage to plastic surgeon Dr. Lenny Hochstein.
"We were all pretty much like caught off guard as far as divorce, like the d-word," Alexia says. "Yeah, 'We're having trouble...' oh, 'Yeah, we're in a fight...' you know, 'We haven't had sex for a month...' but another thing is, 'I want a divorce.' From one day to the other? I thought it was very impactful for all of us."
The whole ordeal plays out a little like true-crime fare, with new details eking out episode by episode; it quickly becomes clear, Lisa and Lenny had very different perceptions of their marriage.
"Isn't that the case with a lot of women?" Alexia asks. "I'm not gonna lie, it's usually the case with women -- and I can say that about myself as well, like everybody saw all this stuff that I never saw, because when you're in it and, I feel as a woman -- especially having a family and kids -- you wanna not see that, and you don't want your family to fall apart. So you keep on fighting and fighting, even though it's broken."
"She comes through, she moves forward, but it was tough," she adds. "It was tough for all of us, and we all learned a lot from her, and from what she was going through."
Part of Lisa's support system winds up being a ghost from RHOM past: original Housewife Lea Black pops in for a cameo to console her friend, much to Alexia's surprise. ET broke the news of Lea's return to her at BravoCon, just before fans got their eyes on the season 5 trailer. She was literally shook by the reveal, throwing her purse across the press line.
"Yeah, I dropped my purse!" she recalls. "You know what? This is a person that has been trashing our show and the cast for years already. Like, she never liked us ... and then all these years went by that we were not on TV, all she said was, 'Ah, the show's never coming back...' and, 'Blah, blah, blah!' and, 'These girls are faking everything, and they're not even real friends...' You know, all these unnecessary things, and I have a problem with that."
"I have a problem with former Housewives that were either fired or they weren't asked back, or whatever the right term is in the Housewife world -- maybe that they 'go off' -- and then they start trashing the platform," Alexia says, "and your own city and your own show and your castmates. You were part of this. You should be grateful, and that's it -- or at least just shut up. If you have nothing nice to say, just don't say anything. So the fact that I've read all these interviews, and people told me about all the ugly things that she has said about our show and about us, and then she's dying to do an appearance? Because she could have spoken to Lisa off-camera, but she did it on-camera. So guess what? Thank you, because you're just affirming that we have a great show, and you want to be part of it, and you love it."
"It's actually a compliment," she reiterates, "because that's how it should be -- and if we would have known, maybe we would have invited her [around] more or what not. But ... don't be a hypocrite about it, you know? Say, 'They didn't ask me back, maybe I don't make any sense now, because my life is different and I moved to L.A.' Like, just be real -- and that's why you're not on the show, because you're not real. You have to be real."
Before the divorce drama takes over, Lisa gets into a pretty petty argument with Larsa -- they fight over semantics when it comes to home ownership, but deep down, it's about their friendship and Larsa feeling like she's a better friend to Lisa than Lisa is to her.
"That didn't surprise me, because I knew that Larsa felt a certain kind of way, the fact that Lisa never had her back," Alexia says. "That's how Larsa feels, and Larsa has never been shy about telling her, she's told me. She's complained about Lisa. She's complained to Lisa tn her face, like, 'When are you going to have my back?' And Lisa is not that person, and you have to love her for who she is, and how she is. She's not going to change."
"It's not like she did it to Larsa," she continues. "She does the same thing to everyone. That's how she is. You're not going to change it. So you want to be friends with her, you have to accept it. If not, this is what's gonna happen. So I think that Larsa already came into the season feeling like ... Lisa has not had her back. So, it was just a matter of time. I knew it was going to happen."
The fight actually illuminates some realities of Lisa's marriage, though, so it all piles onto what unfolds in her home-life. As for Alexia's home-life, she's living a South Beach fairytale, eagerly anticipating her and Todd's one-year anniversary later this month.
"Everything's been amazing," she gushes. "We're going to St. Barts now on Dec. 16 to celebrate our one-year anniversary. But like I said I've been with Todd for six years, and they all count, because I count them every single day."
"It was always good, you know?" she adds. "I feel like it's a little different, every relationship is like a little different. But signing that paper hasn't made it any different for me, in my heart or anything. That's what I tell him. I'm like, 'I've been committed to you since we started dating...'"
Also different is Todd's relationship with Alexia's eldest son, Peter Rosello. The two went at it in season 4, engaging in a tough-to-watch, tense exchange over Peter's treatment of his younger brother, Frankie, who lives with special needs after a car accident a decade ago. Alexia praises the camera for being there to capture that heated conversation between her then-fiancé and her son, because watching it pushed them toward a productive path.
"I'm just happy that they got to that place, because that was what I always wanted," she says. "That's what I envisioned, and so did they."
There's still drama with Peter this season, though, as Alexia has a lot of concerns with his choice of girlfriend, a woman who pressed domestic violence charges against Peter, which were ultimately dropped. Alexia realized it was a bit of history repeating itself, as she dealt with judgment from her own mother when she was with Peter's father. They didn't speak for years, only reconnecting on the day of Peter's birth.
"I said, you know what? I'm not going to punish my son and make him choose, or do that to myself, because I can't live without Peter for a whole year," she shares. "I'm just going to have to accept this. Pray, be involved, supportive -- because sometimes when you fight something, that's when they want to do it."
She actually took parenting advice from Todd in this case, after pushing back on his suggestions last season. His approach is, say yes, and let the kid learn his or her own lesson, instead of forcing a "no."
"Todd would tell me, he said, 'Even if you're not OK with it, just say you're OK with it,'" she recalls. "So I supported the whole thing, and they know it. Peter knows it. She knows it, and at the end they both realized -- on their own -- that this was not going to work, and they weren't meant to be with each other, and that was the best thing."
Alexia's not looking forward to reliving that chapter in her family's life, but it's nothing compared to what she lived through last season. She didn't watch much of season 4, fearing it would be too traumatic to watch back. She's committed to watching season 5 in its entirety.
"There are going to be moments -- it's not going to be, like, a whole episode -- but there are going to be some moments that are are hard to watch for me," she teases. "I don't like fighting with people. Sometimes when you're fighting, it starts off a certain way, trying to, like, prove your point, but then they start hitting below the belt. ... You know, you get down and dirty, and you say things, and I'm sure I'm going to see myself saying or doing things that will take me back to that moment."