Austen, 34, exclusively confirmed to Us Weekly on Monday, May 16, that he and Olivia are dating, hours after Bravo released the first look at the upcoming season of the Charleston-based series.
“Olivia is this lovely, lovely woman who is now a cast member, which we can say. I’m just so excited for people to meet her,” the North Carolina native told Us at the NBCUniversal upfront presentation while promoting the new season. “She truly, in my opinion, brings the charming back to our show.”
The Kings Calling Brewing founder gushed over his lady, adding, “She is the exact type of person that we should have around, like, we want to be around her. So it was so exciting [to have her on board].”
Austen revealed that the couple were friends before they romantically got involved. “I’ve known her now for a year and a half,” he said, teasing that their relationship will play out on the reality series. “You will certainly see where it begins, then how it ends. And it certainly is some ebb and flows as I’m trying to figure it out.”
The “Pillows and Beer” podcast cohost was previously in a relationship with Madison LeCroy, who joined the cast of Southern Charm during season 6. Madison, 31, exclusively told Us in December 2020 that the pair had split for good.
Austen didn’t share too much about his status with Olivia, 30, on Monday, but he did compliment her for her positive personality.
“[She] comes from a good place. She’s extremely kind, you know, she has [a] backbone,” he told Us, noting how “exciting” it was that he could now talk about her openly after the season 8 trailer dropped earlier that day.
In Bravo’s first glimpse at the drama-filled season, viewers can see that Austen’s budding romance with the photographer may cause tension with Madison. Even though the hairstylist is engaged to Brett Randle, she and Olivia appear to get into a fight during one of the cast’s many lavish parties.
Austen and Olivia were first linked in late 2021 after they appeared on castmate Taylor Ann Green’s social media profile in December. At the time, the group, which also included Taylor’s longtime beau, Shep Rose, were filming season 8 of the reality series.
The beermaker and Olivia fueled romance speculation again earlier this month when they joined Shep, 42, and Taylor, 27, for a romantic getaway to Napa, California. “It was just Napa done right,” Austen said of the recent trip, which included the men being judges for Hall Wines.
While Shep and Austen have had their ups and downs — including heated arguments over Austen’s past relationship with Madison — the Average Expectations author approves of his new girlfriend.
“I love it. Taylor, my girlfriend, who’s right over there. She loves Olivia,” Shep told Us on Monday. “We [got] to go to Napa together and we [got] to act like idiots and [the girls] can commiserate about our stupidity.”
Southern Charm season 8 premieres on Bravo Thursday, June 23, at 9 p.m. ET.
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