No matter how turbulent the waters or crew dynamic get, second stew Tumi Mhlongo remains a calming presence on Peacock’s Below Deck Down Under. At the same time, third stew Magda Ziomek is always making things fun and interesting.
They became fast friends through their shared experience serving guests aboard M/Y Thalassa traveling through the Whitsunday Islands of northwestern Australia. More than halfway into the first season of the latest spinoff in the Below Deck franchise, we’ve already seen drama begin to boil.
Here, Tumi and Magda reflect on what we’ve seen so far and tease the sailings ahead. Maybe even unload a little dirty laundry!
Has being on the show made you look at yourself differently?
Tumi Mhlongo: It definitely makes you look at yourself in the mirror. You see every single flaw of who you are. For me, it has made me proud of the person I’ve become, especially compared to who I was two years ago. Just seeing that with my two eyes, it has been a positive experience for me.
Magda Ziomek: I learned how to laugh at myself more. It was a little bit scary to see myself on TV. I was so proud and happy and laughing at myself in a positive way.
You both seem to have a different experience with Aesha Scott as your boss. Magda, you feel a little bit of hostility. Tumi, she sees you like a rock star.
Magda: In the beginning, I was so excited to share a cabin with Aesha. I found her very positive and full of energy. She is also super interesting. She is someone I would love to have as a friend. Working with her for a long time was a little bit challenging for me as a green stew. There was miscommunication we had at times. I think that was what caused it. I think if we spent more time on communication, the situation would be a little bit better. You’ll see how it’s going to happen.
Tumi: I loved working with Aesha. I loved the light-heartedness of the job. I loved that she was authentically herself. Sometimes chief stews try to be a certain way where Aesha is who she is and still gets the job done. I embrace people who are authentic. No fake zone, please.
Someone who makes no bones about who he is, is Chef Ryan McKeown. You two see something maybe that other cast members don’t in him.
Magda: Ryan is a different person from everyone. For me, he was such a sweetheart. He has a huge heart. He is a very good person. Even after the show, I had a chance to meet up with him a lot of times. He is so helpful to me. He is a cool guy, but I believe he is not good with everyone. Which I also respect because he is also authentic.
Tumi: Looking back at it now, Ryan treated me differently than he did Aesha. With Ryan, it was a completely different experience than the one she had with him. I also made it known, don’t try me. I was very adamant about calling him out on his BS. I think that created a level of respect.
Magda: Either you love him or hate him.
Tumi, you witnessed Culver Bradbury hanging in the hot tub with charter guests. Looking back, how do you feel you handled the situation?
Tumi: I think I handled the situation the best way I could. The problem is there are always gray lines, and I knew with my experience on a yacht, especially one of this size, that it wouldn’t be condoned. At the same time, I like Culver. So you don’t want him to get in trouble. In the end, his actions weren’t malicious. There was no need to go to the captain for it to be talked about 120 times. If I really had a problem as a professional I would discuss it with the person I need to discuss it with. I didn’t. I stand by that.
Magda: We always cover each other’s backs. We are family.
Tumi: And if he was an a–hole, then I would watch you burn. But he was not.
Magda, you show how hard it is to be away from your significant other. Long-distance relationships are not fun.
Magda: Yes, it is very hard to keep long-distance relationships, especially in the yachting industry where you are around so many people 24/7. It was hard for me to explain to him because he didn’t know the yachting industry. I was trying to balance it…I was trying my best to keep both sides happy. Perspective now, I wouldn’t do the same thing again. We’re not together anymore. We broke up. I know if I’m yachting, I have to be fully focused. It was all making my life complicated.
Tumi: It’s just not going to work. Do what you got to do with yachting. And if you want to settle down, you leave yachting. Unless you want to marry a captain or something, which I have zero interest in doing.
The charter guests are characters in their own right. Any favorite?
Tumi: I loved the rock stars. The strippers, rock stars. They all had hearts of gold. They were authentic. I just loved them. They radiated such great energy.
Magda: They were super fun, but I also liked Karim [Gharb]. He was a challenge for me. Because it was so hard to make him happy, I came out of my comfort zone and came out as Marilyn Monroe just to make them happy. I think it worked.
Tumi: I’m going to openly say I couldn’t stand those guests. I don’t like them.
Magda: They are also the kinds of guests you will never forget and learn from.
What can we expect in the upcoming episodes?
Magda: As you watch, you have to pay attention to all of our conversations. After every charter, we have these amazing conversations in the cabins. It’s going to be very interesting to hear our comments, especially after a night out. Tumi and I have this one-of-a-kind experience. Hangover conversations.
Come on, spill the tea.
Tumi: You’re just going to wait and see.
Magda: It’s going to be romantic. Culver and Brittini [Burton].
Tumi: Jacuzzi gets very steamy.
Magda: It’s only going to get hotter and hotter.
Tumi: Oh god! I’m going to hide in a hole.
Below Deck Down Under, Thursdays, Peacock