Ashley Jacobs Defends Her Time on 'Southern Charm' : 'I Didn't Mean to Come Off Like a Gold Digger'

In an exclusive chat with PEOPLE, Southern Charm star Ashley Jacobs addressed accusations that she was a gold digger and an escort

There’s no doubt that Ashley Jacobs is one of the most talked about figures in the history of Bravo’s Southern Charm.

In her one season of the show, the 33-year-old registered nurse’s whirlwind relationship with star Thomas Ravenel — and her contentious relationship with his ex-girlfriend and mother of his children, Kathryn Dennis — left fans labeling her as everything from a gold digger to an escort.

It’s something that Jacobs tells PEOPLE exclusively she wanted to “laugh off” at first, but realized, watching the show back, is a product of opening up your life for the cameras.

“This reality TV world is so new to me,” she said, in a phone interview earlier this week. “I don’t even know other people, personal friends who have been on reality shows who I can vent to or who can relate to me. And as you know, I don’t really have a relationship with the fellow cast members, so besides Thomas, I don’t have anyone to really talk to about this.”

“I wasn’t prepared for all the hate,” Jacobs added. “I’d watch it back with Thomas and be like, ‘That’s not how I meant it. I look so bad. I didn’t mean to come off like a gold digger! I’m not the gold digger.’ Or, ‘I don’t ask for your credit card. Thomas, that’s not who you are!’ ”

Ashley Jacobs/Instagram

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t take responsibility for some of the things she did.

“If you understood my personality, you’d know that I’m very sarcastic,” Jacobs admitted. “I like to get a reaction, I like to make people laugh — I think it’s funny. I stir it up a little bit. And I was more doing it for a reaction. I didn’t think it would be taken that seriously.”

“My biggest problem is wanting to defend my character,” she continued. “Because I’m not that person they say I am. I felt provoked and in hindsight, like with Kathryn, I wish I had just said my apologies and walked away. But I can get heated, and I can get angry.”


Jacobs denied accusations of being an escort, rumors she said were frustrating to watch spread because of the scope of the show.

“It’s on national television,” Jacobs explained. “You know, my family sees it, my friends see it. They know who I am, and it couldn’t be more opposite. I have worked my ass off my whole life. I wouldn’t have gotten into nursing [if I was just with Thomas for his money]. I still wouldn’t be working. This is what I wanted to do. I’m paying my bills right now. … People don’t see how hard I work. I wish they could follow me into my work every day.”

“I’ve always been independent. I’ve always believed that being independent gives you that self-confidence, self-esteem, and I think every woman should have their own career and have something to fall back on,” she said. “If I were married to someone rich and didn’t have to work, I’d still want something to fall back on. I’ve always believed that.”

She attempted to address those at Thursday’s season 5 reunion. But Ravenel wasn’t there to help defend her, the former politician currently under investigation by South Carolina police for allegedly sexually assaulting his kids’ nanny (Ravenel has since denied the accusations).

Asked if it was hard not having Ravenel, 55, there, Jacobs said “absolutely.”

“There are things he could explain that they would have a better understanding than me trying to explain it,” she said. “Like, ‘She’s not a quitter, she’s does the work, I’m the one who brings up marriage more than she does.’ I need it from him. If I said it from my mouth, they’d be like, ‘Yeah, right.’ ”

“He was frustrated too,” Jacobs said, of the lies that were being spread about her. “He goes, ‘That’s not it. That’s not fair. How does she get to speak up, say that, and I can’t tell my truth?’ ”

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Ultimately, Jacobs said she felt like she and Ravenel’s relationship was “misinterpreted,” but that the two are now “stronger” than ever.

She has no regrets though.

“It’s been a learning experience, and I’ve learned a lot about myself,” Jacobs said. “And you know, I would do it all over again. I would. I would do it all over again because I feel stronger today than I did a year ago. And it’s definitely an experience that in 20, 30, 40 years down the line, I can look back and laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I did that.’ ”

“I learned a lot about me, and I have to represent myself better,” she concluded. “There are times where I’m like, ‘No calm down, Ash, chill out. Don’t come off too harsh. Take a deep breath. Don’t get so angry. Don’t act on that emotion — feel it, don’t act on it.’ But I’m a good person.”

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