Savannah, known globally as the Hostess City, is the backdrop to Bravo’s newest TV series, “Southern Charm Savannah.” The show, which premiered Monday, May 8, expands upon the “Southern Charm” franchise, which averaged 1.7 million viewers last season.
The cast features six southerners, including Savannah native Ashley Borders, a fashion stylist and creative director who has worked with SCAD and businesses around the world. District’s Editor-in-Chief Emilie Kefalas discussed “Southern Charm” with Borders before the series premiere on Bravo earlier this week.
Currently based in Savannah, Borders said she got involved with “Southern Charm” following a phone call during which she was surprised to discover she was being considered as a main character and not part of the production team.
“I was working on a SCAD job actually and got a phone call about a TV show that was thinking of coming to Savannah,” Borders said. “I was very confused half way through the conversation and realized that they were talking to me about being a main cast member, not helping with the production side of the show. It threw me off guard and I paused for a few moments and then said, ‘Heck…why not.’ Life should be interesting and I am happy to go with the flow and follow the adventures. So I agreed to do an interview with the team in L.A. and the rest was history.”
Borders said she is almost always wearing something of her own design, whether it is from one of her official collections or an outfit she “whipped up at home one evening,” as she described them.
“That’s why fashion is so much fun,” Borders said. “You can create it whenever you want! For example, I was at one of my son’s friend’s birthday parties recently and the kids were painting and I decided I was bored of my favorite denim jacket, so I handed it over to them and let them do their thing. Now it’s absolutely spectacular. So they aren’t always my designs, but I love re-purposing and altering fashion as well.”
After living part-time in both L.A. and Dubai, Borders moved back to Savannah three years ago to hone her work in fashion. Besides design, Borders said she loves the process of working for film and television, an industry in which she has worked for over ten years. Working on “Southern Charm” provided her with the unique experience of being in front of the camera.
“It’s incredible to me how so many people with different skills and who have never worked together can [come together] in a short time and all work simultaneously to create something,” Borders said. “There is never a dull moment. You forget the cameras are there after a while, but the energy is still awesome and contagious and fun. I love working with the crew as well. I am used to being on their side of the camera, so I understand the whole dynamic and appreciate the hard work that everyone puts in to make a project successful.”
In terms of how “Southern Charm” presents Savannah to a wider audience, Borders said each member of the cast loves and appreciates what the city has to offer.
“We are deeply invested in Savannah and what happens to it and where it goes,” Borders said. “I know that several of us have charitable endeavors in the city and hopefully we can bring more attention to Savannah and try to raise awareness to local issues dear to our hearts. My heart is with the Coastal Center for Developmental Services and what they do to promote job training and awareness for the developmentally disabled in our city.”
Borders has also recently launched a company called Lovelution, which works in tandem with the Coastal Center for Developmental Services (CCDS) to promote understanding, love, acceptance and jobs for the developmentally disabled.
“Lovelution is a fashion line that is printed, packaged and labeled at the facilities at CCDS,” Borders said. “The images on the shirts are also drawn by some of their individuals with disabilities. I want to help promote a world that understands that everyone has value and purpose.”
When it comes to life after “Southern Charm” completes its series run, Borders described her mindset as that of a surfer.
“I work really hard to get out past the breakers in order to be able to find a wave,” Borders said. “I ride the waves when they come. I want to use whatever talents or blessings I have to promote progress and love and to build a stable future for my child. Everything I do is in this mindset. I have no expectations, but I have huge goals of being the best that I can be for me and my family. I’m not in charge and I know that. I just know that if I work hard and put my heart and soul into what I do, then what’s meant to be will come.”
Borders said she adores the Hostess City’s charm and majesty in addition to its status of eccentricity and the fact its her home.
“My childhood memories are hung on the live oaks,” Borders said. “I moved back to Savannah at this point in my life because I wanted my son to have a similar childhood as my own. I wanted him to experience playing in the mud, sailing in the rivers, eating blue crabs on the dock and being exposed to the southern lifestyle and manners of Savannah. Honestly, when I left home, I thought I would never return. But life has a funny way of making you eat your own words sometimes. After living all over the world and experiencing everything that I ever ‘dreamed of,’ I realized that Savannah truly was magical and that there really was no place like home.”
Viewers can catch Borders and her five fellow cast members on “Southern Charm Savannah” every Monday on Bravo at 10 p.m. Eastern and 9 p.m. Central Time.