Did Whitney Sudler-Smith Create ‘Southern Charm?’
Whitney Sudler-Smith from Southern Charm always leaned toward being creative.
His mother Patricia Altschul recalled her son as being extremely busy as a child. He “loved to paint, write, was an avid reader, learned to play the guitar himself but also enjoyed sports such as baseball and football,” she told Bravo’s The Daily Dish.
Years immersed in the arts likely prepared Sudler-Smith to create one of Bravo’s most beloved shows, Southern Charm. Sudler-Smith admits the show’s concept started as a small seedling that grew into one of Bravo’s most popular shows.
This is what inspired ‘Southern Charm’
Sudler-Smith isn’t new to the documentary film rodeo. Credits before Southern Charm include writing and producing Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston in 2010 as well as working as a writer on a few television series.
But the impetus for Southern Charm was actually born from a documentary he wanted to make about fallen cast member, Thomas Ravenel. He told Urban Daddy that Ravenel made for a “really compelling character.” And that he would use the platform to explore “the myth of the Old South and reconstruction and all this bullsh*t.”
Sudler-Smith’s agent loved his idea but thought he could do a deeper dive. “And my agent said at the time, ‘No, no, no, this should be a TV show, these characters are all compelling,’ and we just kind of built it out from there,” he continued.
A pipe dream that ballooned
Sudler-Smith told Bravo’s The Daily Dish the concept just exploded from there. “It was kind of a weird pipe dream and it’s kind of ballooned into this monster,” he said. “But I think we’re all pleased. It’s really a great show.”
The show is also complete because Altschul is a big part of it. However, she didn’t realize her part would be so big. “He did tell me at the beginning, ‘Just be on it for five minutes and that’s all you have to do,'” she said. “And now he says, ‘Mother, please don’t talk too much. Watch what you say. Edit what you say.’ And, of course, I just say whatever pops into my head. But I think that gives him ulcers.”
In fact Altschul says she imagined life would have been significantly different. “I came to Charleston to sit on my chaise and eat bon bons and read trashy novels… and now he’s got me working,” she said.
Now he is branching out
Sudler-Smith didn’t stop with Southern Charm Charleston. He also created and is the executive producer of Southern Charm New Orleans. Plus he’s the executive producer of Southern Charm Savannah.
“I had been going down there a lot, and I knew there was a show there. … I met tons of people there, and then slowly developed it,” he told Bravo’s The Daily Dish. “And then the more we developed it, the more it kind of became a Southern Charm and that brand — but it all kind of fit together organically.” He also noted this about the NOLA crew: “I love this cast. I think they’re the best-looking cast on TV, hands down.”
In addition to Southern Charm, Sudler-Smith still finds time for music. “I’ve been playing in rock bands throughout my whole life, and I can shred heavy metal guitar, and I used to be in bands,” he said. “And I had long hair and played in a lot of heavy metal bands. I play guitar every day. I’ll say it’s my hobby now, but I’m addicted to guitar, and I play at least an hour a day. And I’m classically trained.”