Southern Charm’s Whitney Sudler-Smith Explains The Concept Behind T-Rav’s “Raise The Roof” Political Ad


Say what you will about Whitney Sudler-Smith (I certainly do!), but regardless of how sinister he’s coming across on the second season of Southern Charm, he’s pretty funny (even if we’re sometimes laughing at him and not with him). I think there is a lot about his life that we don’t get to see on the show. Whitney is clearly a talented film maker, so the silver spoon that seems constantly lodged in his mouth can’t be a permanent fixture. He has to work hard. We all know he’s the creator of my guiltiest Bravo pleasure and is a producer of the series.

Given that fact, Whitney has to know how he’s being portrayed…heck, he’s likely writing his own script! It’s a bit intriguing (and dare I say, endearing?) that he’d poke enough fun at himself to be the requisite villain. Y’all know I stalk them at any opportunity (I have a few grainy cellphone pics of a white jean clad Whitney waiting at a crosswalk…restraining order, what?), and I’ve been known to approach members of the cast when I see them around town. The one time I fan-girled Whitney, Shep Rose, and Cameran Eubanks at lunch (off season–they truly are friends), all were incredibly kind and cordial, but Whitney struck me as sincere and genuinely nice. Plus, we all know that “reality” these days means scripted stories where the stars use their real names!


That said, there is no love lost between Whitney and his best friend Thomas Ravenel’s on-again-off-again (and now way off?) girlfriend, Kathryn Dennis. Whitney’s commercials for T-Rav’s U.S.Senate campaign have been the source of great contention thus far on this season’s Southern Charm. caught up with the rocking not-yet-restaurateur to discuss that ill-fated ad.

When asked about the inspiration behind T-Rav’s “Raise the Roof” ad that sent Kathryn into such a tizzy, Whitney responds, “We shot three ads, the first one fairly absurd (‘Raise The Roof’) with each successive one getting more serious.The idea behind the ad campaign was to create as much noise as possible without spending any money. Although $20,000 is a lot of money, it is very little for a political ad, much less three. My friends who helped me on the ads, and who are experienced filmmakers, worked for basically nothing as a favor to me.”

Whitney describes the idea of playing up Thomas’ past, explaining, “We were confronted with a dilemma: We had a reality star running for the Senate with a checkered past. How should one approach this? Having grown up in DC, and knowing a lot of people working in politics, I consulted a senator, a political fundraiser (who’s raised over a billion dollars for both parties), and numerous political pundits. The consensus was we had to embrace his past and create a media buzz. The political models were Jesse Ventura, an ex-WWE wrestler who became governor of Minnesota, and Cicciolina (‘Little Fleshy one’), the Italian porn star who was voted into parliament.They got elected by tapping into voter dissatisfaction with the status quo, with the voters sending a message to the establishment by electing an ‘unconventional’ candidate. That was the only chance we had in winning, and it appealed to all parties alike. Who wouldn’t want Thomas Ravenel in the Senate making a mockery of the political process? The Manchurian Candidate idea appealed to me, and that’s why I agreed to participate, however far-fetched.”

He further asserts that the commercial which Kathryn hated with the fire of a thousand suns wasn’t a dig at her. Admitting that the silly and cliched “Raise the Roof” theme was just that, Whitney continues, “The notion of raising the roof, which is corny and dated, and tying it with a political message, was conceived of by Jon Hill, one of the producers (and who did not know Kathryn, countering her assertion that it was aimed at her). The punch line was so silly that it had to work. The idea was you would watch this ad, cannot believe what you’re watching, then suddenly be hooked in by a political pitch. There was a method to the madness.”

Discussing T-Rav’s regrettable decision to enlist a ridiculous blogger/attention monger to run the show, Whitney takes an “I told you so” stance. He shares, “Thomas eventually fired the political consultant I brought in and hired a former political blogger as his campaign manager. Their new strategy was to run him as a serious, conventional candidate, which I believed to be a mistake. Of the three ads, they briefly ran the third and most serious ad of the series, ‘Do They Know?’ Even though it was the weakest of the bunch, it ended up making news all over the world, was analyzed by The Washington Post, and made CNN’s craziest political ads feature. I can only imagine the controversy and uproar had Thomas chosen to run ‘Raising the Roof.’ He ended up shooting a serious ad, where he’s holding his daughter on his lap on a porch, and it garnered little notice,” adding. “Thomas told me the other night he wished he had run the ad and that his mom loved it. Oh well. It’s out there now.”

See, that’s what I like about this show. No matter the amount of craziness that circulates among this group of friends, they remain tight off-camera and maintain a snarky sense of humor that I find incredibly, for lack of a better word, charming. When recalling his confrontation with Kathryn about the ad that aired this week, Whitney jokes that it’s always best to remain calm in such situations. He reminds us, “When confronted with a red-headed Courtney Love, it’s best not to make any sudden movements.”

Gracious, could you imagine Courtney Love in a face-off with Kathryn? My money would be on the hillbilly femme fatale…she’s a lot smarter than we give her credit for being! 


[Photo Credit: Bravo]

Southern Charm Whitney Shep

My first post season 1 sighting almost a year ago…the final game of the World Cup, which (I hope) explains Shep’s American flag vest. I think it’s safe to say I’ll never make a living as a paparazzo, so I hope y’all enjoy my blogging! 🙂