Joining the cast of Teen Mom 2 has been a wild ride for Ashley Jones, who was brought in from Teen Mom: Young and Pregnant to replace Chelsea Houska after the 16 and Pregnant alum announced in November she and husband Cole DeBoer had decided not to move forward with filming another season. Jones opened up about the transition to PopCulture ahead of the Tuesday, May 4 premiere of an all-new season of Teen Mom 2, calling it "crazy" to be part of a cast she's watched for so long.
"I have been watching these girls since before I was even having a boyfriend, so it's crazy," Jones, 24, admitted. Joining Kailyn Lowry, Leah Messer, Briana DeJesus and former Young and Pregnant co-star Jade Cline this season, Jones said she received a warm welcome from many of her castmates. "I got advice from Kail, and she said something that really resonated with me," Jones said, recalling Lowry's advice: "Know what it is and don't let anyone take you out of your character."
While there was a "nervousness" that came with filming her first reunion special, Jones said she was "appreciative" of the opportunity to join Teen Mom 2, despite claiming when Cline joined in 2019 that she was initially asked to switch casts but turned down MTV's offer. Of the change in mindset, Jones explained, "Young and Pregnant was where I started, and I felt like, 'This is where I make my mark on Young and Pregnant. ... This is the show that I am an original on."
Jones has a lot to look forward to watching back this season, including her engagement to fiancé Bariki Smith, with whom she shares 3-year-old daughter Holly. Planning a wedding during a pandemic has been a mixture of "fun" and trying to keep people safe, Jones admitted, but social distancing has allowed her family to spend more time together and made her relationship even stronger.
"If you know anything about me and Bar, you know our family is not the easiest," Jones said, adding, "If I'm honest, I think COVID was a really big wakeup call for everyone ... it forced a lot of people to look at the big picture." While her story hasn't "always been easy," Jones said she hopes this season people will see how much her family truly loves one another and does their best to show it. Don't miss Jones' Teen Mom 2 debut Tuesday, May 4 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.