The Below Deck alum reflects on working with Kate Chastain and reuniting with Rocky Dakota.
As much as Amy Johnson enjoyed her time on Below Deck, she's happy to leave the yachting — and the drama — to the current Season 8 crew.
Amy, who appeared as a stew in Seasons 2 and 3 of Below Deck, now gets to experience all the outrageous charter guest behavior, interior drama, and high seas hookups from the comfort of a couch next to her brother, Kelley Johnson, as one of the fan favorite former yachties dishing on Season 8 in Below Deck Galley Talk, airing Fridays at 8/7c on Bravo.
"Galley Talk was so much fun to film. We really had a great time," Amy shared during a recent exclusive interview with Bravo Insider. "I can’t envision going back to work on a charter boat, but sitting on a couch watching the drama, I’m all about it."
Amy added that she has "such appreciation" for the latest crop of yachties because "it's so much work each season," something that the alum is all too familiar with from her time on the show, whether it was navigating a tense interior dynamic with Kate Chastain and Kat Held while also being there for brother Kelley's highs and lows in Season 2, dealing with the unpredictability of Rocky Dakota in Season 3, and catering to always-demanding charter guests throughout her Below Deck career.
So, Amy definitely has empathy for the conflict brewing between chief stew Francesca Rubi and stew Elizabeth Frankini in Season 8. However, she noted how her past struggles in trying to fit in amid Kate and Kat's tightknit bond in Season 2 doesn't exactly mirror what Elizabeth is going through with fellow stew Ashling Lorger and Francesca's closeness this season of Below Deck.
"I always feel for the interior when they don’t get along because I can relate to that, but I think the difference between what I went through and what Francesca and Elizabeth is going through is that Elizabeth keeps dropping the ball. I think she has a great attitude and she’s trying, but we’re at charter number [five], and she’s dropping the ball on things that you should know by charter two. So I hate that they’re not getting along, but I think that the catalyst for that is the lack of either knowledge or initiative to get a job done, and so it’s a different dynamic of not getting along," Amy explained. "If [Elizabeth] was doing her job and they weren’t getting along, it would just be a little bit of drama, right? But they’re not getting along because she’s not holding up her end of her job, which I can understand [for] Francesca would be really frustrating."
Season 8 of Below Deck differs from the earlier seasons of the show in other ways, according to Amy. "I joke, I’m like, are they getting crazier, or am I getting older?" Amy said, adding that "the guests are a little more outrageous as well."
The Below Deck crew is also looking a lot different these days after Kate announced in February 2020 that she would not be returning to the show after six seasons as chief stew. "I was surprised and I wasn’t at the same time," Amy said of hearing the news of Kate's departure from Below Deck. "It is, A, so much work, and, B, the last season was kind of tumultuous. And so I think that she did a great job and proved [for] so many years, time and time again, she could handle things like a boss. I was shocked, but I was also excited for her because I know Kate’s a get-it-done person, so she had a lot of exciting things to look forward to."
Amy noted how Kate has moved into other opportunities like appearing on Bravo's Chat Room and Below Deck Galley Talk (clip below). "I’m excited for that for her," Amy said, adding that "yachting is wonderful," but it can also be "hard on your body, it’s a lot of work, and that sort of thing. So, as surprised as I was she was leaving, I wasn’t, because I know that she had kind of put in her time."
However, Season 8 did bring with it the return of a familiar face when Eddie Lucas put his epaulets back on to serve as bosun after a four-season absence.
"I know he wanted to take a break and reflect on some things, especially after Season 3, but I’m happy to see him back," Amy said. "He does seem like the same Eddie, but just grown and evolved, as we all do. And he seems like he’s really hands on with his deck crew, which I think by Season 3, he was just burned out a little bit ‘cause he had done three seasons in a row. So, it’s great to see him a little bit more invigorated and really involved with his deck crew, and I think he’s doing a great job leading them."
Amy said that Captain Lee Rosbach must also appreciate having Eddie back as part of the crew this season in the wake of Kate's exit. "I know Captain Lee’s gone through a lot with this period in time, and I think that he’s been a force of just steadiness and comfort for Captain Lee, and I love that for Lee," Amy said of Eddie. "I think that it’s a great comfort to Captain Lee. If he can’t have Kate, at least he has Eddie."
Though Amy said that she regularly keeps in touch with Captain Lee, Kate, and Season 3 deckhand Connie Arias, in addition to her brother, Kelley, since her Below Deck days, she got to reunite with all of these former crew mates and many more alums in person at the series' 100th episode celebration on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen in New York City in January 2020.
"It was a lot of fun. A lot of different personalities. Going into it, I was like, 'What is this gonna be like?'" Amy recalled. "There’s a lot of people I haven’t seen in a while, and it was really great. When you go through something like Below Deck with people, regardless of how it ended or [how] dramatic or whatnot, it’s a very bonding experience from my perspective. And so, you have this place in your heart for them that there’s only a certain few people that understand what you actually went through."
Among those Amy got to catch up with that night was Rocky, her fellow stew from Season 3. Amy admitted that she "wasn't sure" how it was going to go after things got contentious with the crew the last time she had seen Rocky at the Season 3 reunion.
"It was actually good," Amy said of reuniting with Rocky last year. "It was really great to see her. People grow and evolve, and even though she and Kate had a little shade during the show, I really enjoyed seeing her and catching up. She seemed like she was in a really great space in life where she’s happy and living in her niche, and I’m happy for her."
Thinking about how much work all the crew members put into being on a show like Below Deck, Amy said, "I don’t know how we did it either, to be honest."
In fact, watching Below Deck now as a viewer is a bit surreal for Amy in some ways. "It’s funny, because then you go home and watch the show about people doing your job," she said. "It is very entertaining, and I understand why people love the show, but I also have flashbacks to how hard that job is."
Amy remembered one of her lowest points on Below Deck was when she felt on the outs with Kate and Kat in her first season of the show. Rumors started swirling that Kat had hooked up with a guy Amy liked when they previously worked together on a different boat. After Amy confronted Kate and Kat while overhearing them talking about her in their cabin, she broke down in tears as she opened up to Kelley about the situation onboard the yacht.
"I think this sticks out to me because I was so embarrassed about it," Amy said of that emotional moment. "I remember I was doing turndowns, and I was upset, and my brother had come in. I was voicing my frustrations with him, and then I look in the mirror and I had this pirate costume on with that braid... I’m like, 'What am I doing?'"
However, Amy said that she has come to appreciate all aspects of her Below Deck experience, even the difficult times.
"At the end of the day, all those dramatic moments, gosh, they seemed so big in the moment. And then even watching them back, it was like, OK, it wasn’t that big a deal. I could’ve played it off low-key or done this, but at the same time, those are real emotions," Amy said. "Every opportunity is a chance to just learn from those things and grow, and as you grow, you see things from a different perspective. So, all those cringey moments, the dramatic moments, I wouldn’t trade that for the growth that it created, and I am really thankful for my time on Below Deck because [there have] been some really great memories and a great learning experience."
Below Deck has also changed how Amy sees herself. "Initially, signing up for Season 2, that wasn’t something I was right on board with. It took some convincing, and it, quite frankly, scared the crap out of me," Amy said. "Coming through that and coming out of it and then doing it again, and feeling like, [I] really did it the way I wanted to [in] Season 3, it makes you realize you’re capable of things that you may not necessarily think you’re capable of right away."
Want more Below Deck? New episodes air every Monday at 9/8c or catch up on every episode ever through the Bravo app.