'Southern Charm's newest addition, Venita Aspen, opens up to ET about what it's like joining the show and navigating the group drama.
"I used to literally leave events, I used to leave parties, 'I've got to go home and watch Bravo!' And now here we are, I'm on Bravo. I have to go home and watch myself. My god..." she explains to ET, alongside castmate Madison LeCroy.
Venita joined the Charmers in a guest capacity in season 7, aiding the group -- namely Kathryn Dennis -- through conversations about race and racism as the Black Lives Matter movement surged. She's a longtime friend of Madison's, as well as Naomie Olindo and Leva Bonaparate, and one of only two Black people to ever star on Southern Charm, the other being Kathryn's (now ex) boyfriend, Chleb Ravenell. They both joined the ensemble in season 8.
"I felt I could really breathe and be myself this season," the fashion influencer shares. "Whereas last season I had to kind of feel a little more reserved and keep things under wraps, but you know, it feels good to actually be able to show the audience and these fans who I am."
"I am so happy to have her, with this personality that I've known for so long," Madison interjects. "Because even last year I was like, 'Venita, where are you at, girl? I know you're in there. I know you!'"
"I was like, 'I'm not ready...'" Venita recalls, but says she leaned in while filming season 8, showing the good, bad and in-between. Venita's fiercely loyal to her friends, which sparked her first feud of the season with fellow newcomer Olivia Flowers, over Olivia's defense of Kathryn.
"The biggest thing I've learned being in this group is that it's better to apologize in the moment than to wait and let it fester," Venita admits. Viewers will see her face Kathryn and Olivia head-on during Thursday's episode (Southern Charm's 100th), which finds the women gathered for Venita and Madison's joint birthday celebration. Madison handled the guest list, meaning Kathryn and Olivia's invites were a surprise to the newly minted reality star.
"Like, she set me up!" Venita cracks. "Did she or did she not?"
"You didn't even tell me how bad you didn't like them, or I would've not invited them," Madison offers in her own defense. "But this is an all-cast event."
"We made it work," Venita promises. "You know, I put my big-girl britches on and I said, 'You know what? We're going to do it.' And we did it."
"If Patricia can sit across from Kathryn, Venita can sit there and be just fine," Madison adds, referencing Patricia Altschul, the matriarch of the Southern Charm extended universe who's had a hot and cold relationship with Kathryn over the years. It's currently quite icy.
"Patricia was like, 'I'm not coming...' but she showed up for us," Madison says. The event is only the second time Venita and Kathryn came face to face in season 8; the first was at Kathryn's 30th birthday party, which was also the first time they'd seen each other since filming season 7.
"I tried to walk in with as much of an open mind as I could, knowing that I hadn't heard from her, but I was just trying to come from a place of, 'Maybe she's nervous. Maybe she's afraid. Maybe she doesn't know how to approach it,'" Venita shares. "So I tried to walk into the season with as much as an open mind and tried to let her come to me about the things that we talked about."
"I think the root of the issue is that, neither of us have had time alone to like together, if that makes sense," Venita goes on to add. "So like I've not had individual time with Olivia. I've not had individual time with Kathryn. The conversations are always happening around a bunch of people. So many people have things to say, they want to give their opinions. And all of that is affecting the potential relationship that I could have with either of them. Walking into it I wasn't the most thrilled, but I just had to pull myself together and be like, 'Listen, they're here and they're going to be here, and we are just going to have a good time. And then we're going to try to squash things and be good.'"
Venita won't say what unfolds between the trio, but does say she's "excited for the viewers to see growth -- and quick growth."
"I feel like within these shows, you don't really get to see your favorite person develop as quickly as I feel like I did this season," she teases. "So I'm excited for people to see that and to be able to have a different perspective. One hundred episodes. That's crazy. I remember when I used to watch the show. So to now be a part of the 100th episode is absolutely wild."
Southern Charm airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.