Eliza Limehouse made her debut on season 6 of Southern Charm, though not everyone seemed thrilled to have her there.
Showing up at Patricia Altschul’s dinner party with pal Shep Rose in the premiere, the 23-year-old found herself having an awkward face-off with Kathryn Dennis following previous tension between the two (more on that later).
It was a tough welcoming for Limehouse, and one that won’t get easier.
“It was pretty terrible, I’ll be honest,” Eliza tells PEOPLE, in an interview from her Charleston home. “I didn’t feel welcome at all. I get this kind of freshman/senior mentality from them. Like, I’m significantly younger than everybody, so I definitely felt like I was the ‘kick the cat.’ “
Luckily, Eliza knows how to kick back. The Clemson grad grew up among the Charleston elite, mixing and minglingwith other socialites at galas and charity events around town. All that made her a confident, poised young women, who is not afraid to share her opinion.
“I lived in the shadow behind my dad long enough, but I’m excited about being able to get out now and become my own person,” she says. “It’s time to step out on my own.”
Here are five things to know about Eliza:
1. She comes from one of Charleston’s oldest families.
Eliza’s family has been around since before Charleston became a city.
Nine grandfathers ago, on her father’s side, Thomas Limehouse signed the Declaration of Charleston. Meanwhile, she goes back 15 generations all over South Carolina on her mother’s side, with relatives on the Mayflower.
The Limehouses own hotels, parking companies, commercial and residential real estate brokerage offices, and a produce company. (“Our BBQ restaurants both closed, thank god,” Eliza jokes. “It’s one less business.”) Her father, Chip Limehouse, was in politics for 30 years as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, as was her granddad and uncles.
All are extremely close. “My family, we’re in each other’s business all the time,” Eliza says. “I want to slap them sometimes, but we’re so lucky we’re all together. I grew up with all my cousins. My dad’s the oldest of four boys, I’m the middle of two. I talk to my grandparents everyday, I talk to my parents every day, I talk to my brother every day — I’m so lucky to have these businesses and these family. When things do get tough, we have each other. I’m really blessed.”
Having such a big family comes with a lot of responsibility, though. “I definitely felt pressure to live up to the family name,” she says.
She certainly following in he family’s footsteps by working. After graduating a year early from Clemson, she returned to Charleston, where she’s been managing and renovating hotels in the family business, Limehouse Properties. In addition, she launched a local jewelry line, Snaffle Bit Bracelet Company; started a fine jewelry, e-commerce line; and co-founded the Plantation Candle Company.
When she’s not keeping busy in the office, Eliza is also signed with TouT Models.
“I’m trying to do the things I love but also keep my family’s business running,” she says.
2. Her family has made headlines in the past.
A first-time reality show cast member may not be familiar with how to handle the press, but Eliza has had experience.
Her parents, Chip and Susan Limehouse, had a messy divorce back in 2016 involving an alleged mistress who appears to have produced a child out of wedlock. Chip often shares photos of the little girl to his Instagram page.
Despite the stress, which Eliza opened up about on episode 2 of the show, Eliza has a positive outlook on reality TV as a whole.
“Look, my family has already been all over the media, good and bad. We’ve been through all kinds of chaos. Why not put cameras on it?” she said, when asked why she wanted to do the show. “I’m already used to locally having to deal with chaos. What does it make a difference if the rest of the nation knows my business?”
“If I don’t talk about it, people will talk about it behind my back, and that hurts worse than just owning it,” she adds. “So I might as well. No matter what our family goes through, we’re going to be there for each other — hell or high water. It has been nicer now to get it out with my own words.”
3. She’s close family friends with Thomas Ravenel — and is responsible for bringing Ashley back on the show.
Seeing as they both come from aristocratic southern families, it should come as no surprise to hear that Eliza knows Ravenel well. “He’s like family,” Eliza says. “The Ravenels and Limehouses are two of the biggest names here. Our families are friends. We all go to church together. I grew up with his nieces riding. My dad is actually the one who got him into polo.”
With such a close bond, joining the show without Ravenel wasn’t easy. “It was weird without him. He was like my shield, in a way,” she says, revealing the Ravenel wasn’t actually on board with her doing the show. “He said don’t do it. He said run!” she teased.
Ravenel’s time on Southern Charm was marked by his tumultuous relationship with ex Kathryn Dennis. The two are in the thick of a hellish custody battle of their two young children, daughter Kensington, 5, and son St. Julian, 3. Ravenel is also currently facing charges of assault and battery in the second degree after a woman who worked as his children’s nanny accused him of rape, which he denies.
Eliza’s friendship with Ravenel also means that she knows his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Ashley Jacobs. A divisive figure on the show, Jacbos returns in a smaller capacity this season without Ravenel — thanks to to Eliza. Judging from previews, it doesn’t go well.
All that has affected Eliza’s relationship with him. “Everyone has different opinions on it, and people who have been friends with him in the past have kind of fed him off to the wolves. But I’m trying to let it all pan out and keep my distance,” Eliza says. “There’s so many components, I don’t know what has happened and what is going to happen. And it sucks. But we’re still in touch. I’ve left that relationship open for him to call me. And he calls me from time to time and we catch up.”
“I feel for him, I do,” she adds. “It’s definitely hard to see someone you care about go through something like that. I’ve been through legal stuff with my parents’ divorce and that stuff is tough.”
4. She’s been on Southern Charm before but claims she never watched the show.
While season 6 is the first time Eliza has been a full-time cast member on Southern Charm, she has appeared on the show in the past.
Back in the season 4 premiere, she hosted the gang at one of her family properties for a big pool party.
One might think that Eliza has watched the show closely in the past, but she claims she never did. “I don’t watch the show,” she says. “I don’t have cable!”
Perhaps if she did watch it, she might know how to navigate the group dynamics. Eliza admits that she struggled fitting in at first.
“This friend group always has to have somebody they’re mad at. It’s like this bandwagon thing, everybody’s mad at one person at some point,” she says. “No matter what I did, it was a catch 22. If I was friendly, I was being too much. If I was silent, I was being a bitch. I was damned if I do, damned if I didn’t. No matter what, I couldn’t get my foot in the door.”
5. She’s in love!
Eliza is in a happy relationship with boyfriend Struthers McBride.
The two have only been dating for a little over a month but are inseparable — even though he lives about two hours north.
“My cousins and all my close friends have met him and they’re like, ‘I’ve never seen you googly-eyed over a man’ ” Eliza gushes. “He’s probably the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.”
They’ve known each other for years. “Our families know each other through politics,’ Eliza explains, because McBride’s father is the former mayor of Myrtle Beach. “He’s been around for half my life. And we’ve always had a crush on each other, but I always had a boyfriend when he was single and he had a girlfriend when I was single. We just never hit at the right time.”
All that changed when Eliza was asked to find a man to model with her on a wedding shoot. She put a call into McBride, and the rest was history.
“He came and I’m not kidding you when I tell you, there were sparks. It was like fireworks were going off,” she recalls. “Every moment — this man is so sweet. He gets the door, he brings me flowers, he carries my luggage. He blew my hair dry for me when Iw as putting makeup on. It was instant.”
Four days later, McBride asked Eliza out. “He sat me down and was like, ‘I’ve been in love with you for like, six years. I don’t want to do that thing where you talk and don’t date. I want to date you. I want you to be mine. I want to date you!’ ” she said. “And the rest is history.
Southern Charm airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.
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