Shannon Beador on the Demise of the Tres Amigas and Starting Fresh on 'RHOC' (Exclusive)
By Brice Sander
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Shannon Storms Beador is the last "amiga" standing on The Real Housewives of Orange County, and she's OK with that -- though it did take some getting used to for the 56-year-old.
"I'm not gonna lie, at the very beginning of filming I was a little concerned, because I didn't really have close relationships with any of the cast," Shannon tells ET over video chat from her Newport Beach home. "But you know, what has been nice about it is that I have been able to develop those relationships now that Vicki and Tamra aren't there."
Vicki and Tamra would, of course, be Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge, RHOC's longest-running stars and the other two thirds of the "Tres Amigas." Both women exited the series after season 14, announcing their departures with back-to-back social media posts in January, just weeks before production started on season 15. In the months since, both women have spoken out about Shannon, claiming that their trio fell apart as soon as Shannon learned that Vicki and Tamra wouldn't be a part of the show. All three women met on the long-running program.
"As soon as we're not on the show anymore, she just doesn't have any time for us anymore and it really just kind of hurts my feelings," Tamra told ET in April. "It came to a point where me and Vicki really went through some hard times, when neither one of us were gonna go back to the show, we really went through, what is our identity? Who are we? … I just kind of felt like I never got that, like, 'How are you doing? How are you feeling?' kind of thing."
"I just wanted that friend, that friend that I could sit there and cry on the phone with and it was just, I guess, I wasn't important to her," she added, saying she would be willing to work things out with Shannon if Shannon would just give her a call.
But Shannon says what Tamra and Vicki have put out there is simply not true, at least not her truth. She suggests she didn't know how they were feeling because the women went to the press first, instead of to Shannon.
"I dispute what they've said," she says. "I am not the person to sink down to a level to argue with people -- that I consider close friends -- in the press or on social media. That's not who I am, that's not what I'm made of, so I just feel like I have a little bit more decorum than they do. I don't wanna engage with them, except to say that the things that they've been saying, especially Tamra, it's a laundry list of things that aren't true."
Shannon, who is now RHOC's longest-running current star (she joined in season 9), says she has no contact with her former "BFFs," with no plans to change that in the near future, either.
"It's interesting when people say, 'You can pick up the phone….' What moron would pick up the phone when someone's been bashing them for months on end?" she asks. "I mean, it almost got to a point where it was weekly, where yet another untruth [would come out] and, you know -- I take the high road in those situations, and I'm gonna continue to do that."
"I really have no reason to be around them anymore," Shannon adds. "We live, like, 45 minutes away from each other, so it's not like we're in the same social circles or anything like that. I don't know when I would ever potentially run into them again."
"I suppose I should never say never, 'cause I'm one of those people that have said, 'I'm done!' And then we're friends, and Kelly Dodd might be an example of that. So, never say never, but for now I don’t, I have no desire.”
Shannon says Kelly, her frenemy on the show for five years now, actually helped her process the end of her relationship with Vicki and Tamra, who was publicly upset when Shannon shared a photo posing with Kelly.
"It just hurt my feelings," Tamra said to ET. "She was always the one telling me last year, 'Don't hang out with Kelly, don't hang out with Kelly, don't hang out with Kelly,’ you know?”
Shannon says her opinion of Kelly was largely based on Tamra's experience with the outspoken Housewife. The pair sparred for years, especially in Tamra's final season, sharing below-the-belt jabs back and forth episode after episode.
"I'm a very loyal friend, so if you attack my best friend, in my eyes you're attacking me," Shannon explains. "I had some revelations after she kind of explained what she was doing. Now, do I think her intentions towards Tamra were kind or nice? No. But I took them personally, that she was going after me, as well, and she explained to me that she wasn't and what she said made sense to me, so when I hear that, I'm going to give her another chance."
Shannon and Kelly’s journey toward friendship will be a central part of the early episodes of RHOC's 15th season. The women are now neighbors, living within walking distance of one another.
"I don't like to argue with anyone," she adds. "I do have opinions -- always -- and I have no fear of expressing them. That being said, I don't like to be in arguments with people, I just don't."
Kelly’s behavior during the coronavirus pandemic has sparked much controversy in the Real Housewives fanbase. The 45-year-old spent much of the first few weeks of California’s lockdown orders traveling the country, hopping up and down the East Coast with her fiancé, Fox News correspondent Rick Leventhal. Amid her travels, the reality star frequently went on Instagram Live to share her non-expert opinions on the state of the virus, even suggesting everyone should go out and catch COVID-19 "like chickenpox," among other comments. She's apologized for some, but Kelly's never stopped posting on social media about the virus, often sharing false information.
"I don't necessarily agree with a lot of things that she said," Shannon says of Kelly’s pandemic activity. "She puts her foot in her mouth a lot and it's not good. You know, when this pandemic first hit, I was petrified. Like I couldn't sleep. I was a mess, and so people are still dying from it. It's a serious illness and you don't know if you're going to be seriously affected by it or not."
Shannon and her three daughters -- Sophie, 18, and twins Adeline and Stella, 16 -- contracted the virus over the summer. They documented their battle with the disease for RHOC, and Shannon says some of Kelly’s comments have been “horrible.”
"I have friends … who have lost five plus friends to COVID, so you know there's a certain respect level that I don't think that she had for what certain people are going through," Shannon says, "and I don't agree with it."
Kelly continues to spark more controversy with her seeming lack of interest in, or concern for, the call for racial justice in America. She recently defended wearing a hat emblazoned with the phrase "Drunk Wives Matter," stylized to look like the Black Lives Matter logo. Fans should expect to see the cast discuss both the pandemic and the reckoning on racism with Kelly onscreen this season, most likely by way of Braunwyn Windham-Burke. The season 14 newbie has been outspoken on social media about the social movement and the 2020 presidential election.
Shannon seems to have mixed feelings about Braunwyn this season, even though they spent most of season 14 in a good place. Judging by the trailer, Braunwyn finds herself at odds with most of the women in her sophomore season.
"She just kind of, I feel like, came in guns blazing and I think you see from the trailer I'm not pleased with some of the things that she's done," Shannon shares. "I think you'll see in the season some of us kind of perplexed a little bit about what's going on with her."
"All of us kind of have our antennas raised with Braunwyn this season," she teases. "Was the love shack real? Was it really?"
There's also a new girl this year, Elizabeth Lyn Vargas, and historically, Shannon has not gotten along with the new cast members (for reference, see: Meghan King Edmonds, Peggy Sulahian, Gina Kirschenheiter, Emily Simpson and, most famously, Lydia McLaughlin).
"She's a lot, Elizabeth Vargas is a lot," Shannon admits. "I had fun with her … she was fun, but you know, we kind of had a little something, too. She's a very complex person and I'll just leave it at that. There's a lot of layers to peel off."
Fans can judge Elizabeth for themselves -- and everything else that unfolds in season 15 -- when The Real Housewives of Orange County premieres next Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.