“If I had a dollar for every time I heard that…” Madison LeCroy said in response to the word “spitfire” as an adjective used to describe her, as she brushed out my hair. There might be a few more adjectives thrown in her direction over the course of this season of Southern Charm, but for now, we’re at Cirque Studios Charleston where she works, as there’s no better way to get to know a hair and makeup artist than let her go to work. After all, it’s impossible not to gossip from that chair.
And LeCroy would know: she’s spent the last ten years gossiping with Patricia Altschul as she does her hair every Tuesday and Friday, and the two will be hanging out even more now that LeCroy is dating another member of the Southern Charm cast, Austen Kroll. “It was so funny, I didn’t call her back this weekend, I guess she had a bad blowout. I was out and she was like, ‘You must’ve been working a wedding or something,’ and I was like, ‘No, I just didn’t answer the phone!’” She simply craved her own downtime from it all. It’s likely that LeCroy will be spending even more time avoiding calls and her phone altogether as this season gets underway. One is expected to be nervous before being introduced to a significant other’s friends, but when that person’s friends include an extremely dedicated TV audience? Well, LeCroy was justified in admitting, “I’m really terrified about all this.”
LeCroy moved to Charleston over ten years ago with some girlfriends that were attending College of Charleston and started working in a salon on King Street before she built the successful career she has going for herself today. She typically works from 9-5 during the week, specializing in balayage and hair coloring, which has earned her the nickname “The Blonde Whisperer” from clients. “I have to trademark that,” she tells me. On the weekends, she works weddings, and not just any weddings. While LeCroy counts Blake Lively as her dream customer, she’s already got something in common with the blonde actress. “I’m actually working with her wedding planner, I’m doing all of her weddings. She only does seven a year, and they start at $500,000,” LeCroy says. She’ll do hair and makeup for the entire wedding party, noting that at the last wedding she had her own bridal tent and was there until 10pm, on hand to do touch-ups throughout the evening. She also gets called upon for photo shoots, which typically afford her the opportunity to do what she called “weeding the garden”. “I will get rid of a client in a heartbeat if they’re not accommodating with rescheduling,” when she’s offered opportunities to make double or triple her day rate and has to move appointments around. It’s a process LeCroy doesn’t mind, because as she puts it, “I always like to do new people because it gives me a little bit of a challenge.”
And this Southern gal is just about to step into the challenge of her life: being judged on national television. Two weeks ahead of the premiere, she told me that so far on social media, “The majority of the people have been really nice. You know, you have your stay at home typical cat lady saying a few things, but that’s normal.”
The first time LeCroy popped up on Kroll’s Instagram page was March 25, 2018, in a group photo at a friend’s birthday party. At the time, LeCroy was getting over a breakup, but it was Southern Charm’s own Naomie Olindo that invited her out to dinner with “a few people.” No specific names were mentioned but LeCroy needed an excuse to leave the house and told Olindo, “If you don’t care, I’m gonna tag along.” Olindo of course reacted enthusiastically, and it was while they were waiting on a late member of the group to arrive that the evening shifted. “I’d seen Austen, but I’d never really talked to him,” LeCroy said of her future boyfriend. She’s done the hair of other cast members before, but not him. “He walked in and he was like a giant. He couldn’t even fit in the door! And then we just kinda hit it off right then,” she recalled. Except for one thing. “He pulled the friend card out for a little while.” He knew she was still getting over her ex, so Kroll told her, “I know you’re going through a breakup but I don’t want to hear about it anymore.” That was the wakeup call she needed as LeCroy said, “I quickly shut my mouth about my breakup and we just started hanging out. And here we are.”
What do you like about him? I ask, while she works on curling my hair into a hairstyle that would fit right in at any Southern charity fundraiser. “The way he acts with his family, how nice his family is, you can tell it’s very important to him and it’s also very important to me,” LeCroy relayed, which makes sense. She’s got a family of her own and is mom to six-year-old kindergartener, Hudson.
But as far as Kroll goes, she adds, “It does help that he’s very cute and I love his dimples too. He’s a goofy guy, he makes me laugh. We just have fun and I don’t feel that he puts any pressure on me to be a wife. We take it day by day and have fun with each other.”
I ask the typical hairdresser chair questions, like did he do anything special for your one-year anniversary? LeCroy pauses. “Dang, I don’t know. I guess not if I don’t remember, right?” she giggles. He did make a point to work with her friends on a birthday party though, at the fancy Halls Chophouse in Charleston. “He gave a little speech and I’ve never seen him so nervous, so that was kinda funny.” He also splurged on a hotel for the night and an “impressive” Gucci bracelet. “He knows that gifts are my love language. I just tend to keep buying them all for myself,” she laughed.
When I ask if their relationship has changed since she agreed to be on the show, LeCroy unhooks the curling iron from my hair before thinking about the question, and answering, “I don’t think so. I think it’s going to, for sure. Having to relive all this is gonna be stressful, but we definitely made this promise to each other that we obviously know what happens, we already dealt with all those issues and just to stay focused on what’s really important. I mean, he is my best friend…”
Part of that promise is understanding “what happened in 2018 is in 2018.” LeCroy maintains, “We’re over that.” She’s referring to the mysterious YouTube video that popped up last summer where two women slept over at Kroll’s house and then secretly recorded his reaction when LeCroy caught them there. Kroll insists it was innocent, LeCroy doesn’t buy it and took her broken heart out on the town to retaliate by also cheating. Now the couple, and the world, get to relive all those events on Bravo. “At that time in our relationship, it was so fresh,” she says quietly in her thick Southern accent that seems to accentuate the hurt she felt at the time. She says that their relationship went from “an occasional hangout and then it turned into love. I think we were not wanting to fall in love. I had my things going on, he had his things, and it just happened.”
Even in that moment, she says it felt like, “It was us against the world, almost. Everyone had something to say about the cheating and it was like, well we really don’t care what you think because we care about each other. So we just ignored, well, tried I guess to ignore what everybody else was saying.”
Now, in the lead up to the series, as they wait for the events to roll out on TV, LeCroy says, “I am a little nervous, but it’s the unknown and I think that’s something that I’m not good at. I like to know everything that’s going on.”
Which is why she turned to cast member Cameran Eubanks to get her two cents before committing to the series. What she offered her friend was, “If you want your relationship to work you should probably not [join the show].” So LeCroy “stood her ground for a while” on not appearing on the show. It was Kroll who “pulled the ‘You’re part of my life and I have to show a part of my life,’” move, and LeCroy’s reaction was a simple, “Dammit, Austen,” and she was in.
Surprisingly, she points to Chelsea Meissner as one of the most welcoming cast members, the very same lady just last season Kroll was still maybe having feelings for. “We knew each other in passing, but we’ve actually become friends since all this and I really like her,” LeCroy says, who seems to maintain decent relationships with all the women on the show. It’s one of the guys she butts heads with. As we learned in the first episode, Shep Rose isn’t quite president of the Madison LeCroy Fanclub, but even more so, just doesn’t seem to believe their relationship is a good fit. Was LeCroy worried about getting him on board with it? “Not at all,” she answers quickly. “I didn’t care and I still don’t care and that will always remain. I think we will have this relationship that we have right now probably forever. We can be in the same room, but I don’t see us double dating, that’s for sure.”
“It’s definitely been an experience,” she says softly in between spritzes of hairspray. “I find that I almost, and not because I’m drinking or anything, but I like, blackout. I’m like, whoa, what did I just say? Definitely out of my comfort zone.” As far as her involvement in the drama to come on this show, there wasn’t a whole lot of wading in for LeCroy. “I feel like I kinda hit it head-on and sometimes I wish I would’ve thought before I spoke. But I went with my gut and really said what I was feeling, that’s for sure.” And if she crossed a line, she knew it “immediately.”
“I was disappointed in myself if I hurt anyone else, but I still stand by pretty much everything I did.” She admits she’ll begrudgingly apologize when necessary to smooth over a situation, but adds in a sweetly devilish voice, “Nobody said I meant it.”
For now, she says on Wednesday nights, “The game plan for us is to let everyone else watch it and almost distract ourselves from what everybody in America is saying.” It’s a noble but naive thought from LeCroy, who would likely be met with a “bless her heart” reaction to that statement in Charleston. Even a recent date night to the movies found LeCroy questioning a stranger’s intentions. “She played it so cool, she was working behind the [counter] and she said, ‘You guys are just so cute, let me take your picture,” LeCroy relays. She asked Kroll if he knew the woman, but also couldn’t tell “what her intentions were, if she knew who Austen was or not.” The lady snapped the picture and they went on with their date night, but when I ask if the stranger posted the picture online at all, LeCroy says with a smile, “No, but I kinda wish she would’ve because it felt cute when we took it.”