Whatever happened to the cast of Duck Dynasty?
Remember when people couldn’t stop talking about Duck Dynasty or the Robertson family? A few years ago, this close-knit Louisiana clan was the talk of reality TV. They were praised for being an authentic Christian family with sensible, down-to-earth values. Of course, that all changed thanks to a certain GQ interview featuring the family patriarch, Phil Robertson.
Though the Robertsons managed to stay on the airwaves following their brush with controversy, the family and their show seemed to drift from the minds of most reality TV viewers as ratings steadily fell. On March 29, 2017, A&E hosted the family’s final duck hunt as the show went off the air for good. Did the Robertsons just disappear after that? Not by a long shot.
The controversy that signaled the end
In December 2013, Phil Robertson made national headlines thanks to some arguably homophobic and racist statements that hit a sour note with members of the American TV viewing audience. Luckily for the Duck Dynasty cast, their loyal fanbase was also outspoken about the temporary suspension of the family patriarch, which proved to be enough reason for A&E to forgo any extreme consequences like outright axing the show.
Although Duck Dynasty weathered the ugly backlash, the series was mortally wounded. The bearded brood would see the record-breaking 11.8 million viewers who tuned in for the Season 4 premiere dwindle to just 4.6 million by Season 6. In the span of just two years, Duck Dynasty managed to shed more than half its audience. With the slippage beginning right after Robertson’s comments, it’s hard not to see a correlation between his controversial remarks and the loss of a large swath of the show’s audience.
But they didn’t back down
The rest of the Robertsons rallied around Phil and doubled down on the conservative values they’ve claimed to build their lives around. "We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right," the family said in a statement via CNN. "We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty."
Obviously, the hardball maneuver paid off, and led to a few more seasons—Phil included—which had the effect of quieting of the controversy and allowing the Robertsons to continue branching out into individual stardom. Since Duck Dynasty ended, the Robertsons have all basically taken their own paths, albeit sometimes criss-crossing and certainly familiar to their loyal fanbase. So we’re checking in with them individually to see how life is going as reality TV veterans.
Phil & Kay Robertson’s non-plan plan
In an interview with local news station KNOE 8, Phil and Kay Robertson said they don’t have any grand plans for the future. Phil said he’s basically going to spend all day in the woods, while Kay is looking forward to getting back to a "quieter life" despite the fact that she said she also still regularly cooks for anywhere from "eight to 30 people."
So do they miss the show? Kay said she’ll miss sneaking biscuits to the crew (who weren’t supposed to take food because apparently A&E operates on zoo rules?), but Phil wasn’t sad to see them pack their cameras and go. "I, for one, was thankful it ended," he claimed. "There’s a lot more to doing these TV shows than most people realize." But hang on a second, because while the Robertson family patriarch would like everyone to think he’s happy checking duck blinds all day, he’s actually been pretty busy outside the Louisiana wilderness.
Phil does a lot more than just hunt
During the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, Phil became politically active at the primary stage. He voiced his support for Republican candidate Ted Cruz, sparking a bit of awkwardness with his son, Willie, who shortly afterwards threw in with then-candidate Donald Trump’s camp. Eventually, Phil got on the Trump Train as well, and he’s been quietly playing behind the scenes in conservative politics ever since.
Phil and Kay also travel around doing speaking engagements at churches and conferences, mainly preaching their religious beliefs in what Phil described to KNOE 8 as "helping our neighbors and living a godly life." And lately, he’s taken to Facebook to advocate for the NRA, which should surprise exactly no one, but nevertheless sort of flies in the face of his "happily retired" facade. Don’t be fooled, Phil Robertson’s still very much a public figure who still has a lot to say.
Willie Robertson’s political calling
The Duck Commander himself, Willie Robertson, also took a deep dive into politics as the show tapered down. He even spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2016, as well as consistently voiced support for then-candidate Donald Trump. Willie even attended Trump’s inauguration and later visited the White House, according to MYARKLAMISS. When asked by the local NBC affiliate if he’d ever run for office, Willie said, "I don’t make plans," and hinted at possible new TV projects and an expansion of the family’s West Monroe, LA warehouse.
But like his dad, Willie’s also not resting on his laurels in the afterglow of the tribe’s TV success. He and his wife Korie also decided to reopen Willie’s Duck Diner, a local family-themed restaurant once featured on the show. Along with his partner in the restaurant, Dr. Marco Moran, Willie was also instrumental in organizing relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Think that’s enough for him? Not quite, because Willie also starred in Uncle Si’s A&E spinoff series, Going Si-ral, as—wait for it—the "Si-kick." As of this writing, there’s no word on whether Going Si-ral has been renewed for a second season. We’re guessing it depends how many more sen-si-tional puns they can come up with.
Korie Robertson is managing the family brand
One of the things that attracted Korie and Willie Robertson to each other must have been their shared entrepreneurial spirit, because like her husband, Korie has parlayed her TV fame into a brand of her own. Already a New York Times bestselling author, Korie released her latest book post-Duck Dynasty, called Strong and Kind: Raising Kids of Character. Taking a page out of the wildly successful playbook she implemented as the overseer of "licensing for the family’s brands," Korie also timed a partnership with the lifestyle brand Glory Haus to release her Strong + Kind collection of housewares, jewelry, and accessories.
But there is one area where she and Willie differ: politics. In a surprising break from the family’s usually unified stance, Korie told CNN that she was baffled by President Trump’s response to the horrific events of Charlottesville. She also said that although she did end up voting for Trump due to Hillary Clinton’s "views on abortion," she didn’t share her husband’s enthusiasm about him as a candidate. "Willie was outspoken and supported Trump from the beginning; and I was not. So we had a lot of discussions about it. And we could agree to disagree as well," Korie said. She also called on the president to change, stop fighting, and "be a leader that unifies, that brings people together."
Sadie Robertson is dancing her way into the spotlight
Arguably the breakout star of the show, Willie and Korie’s daughter Sadie has become a full-blown media figure in her own right since the final duck call was blown. She actually started stepping out in 2014, when she nearly took home the mirrorball trophy on Dancing With The Stars. Since then, she’s also become a bestselling author, launched clothing lines, and started an acting career.
On top of all of that, Sadie’s taken the concept for her book, Live Original, and turned it into a full-blown brand. Like her mom, she rolled out a collaboration with Glory Haus in connection with the brand, which she’s now grown into a blog and live show complete with a national touring schedule. Sadie views herself as "a beacon of light in an oft-dark world," according to her Live Original mission statement, which also describes the brand’s ambitions as a combination of ministry and motivational speaking. In addition to embarking on a 2017 tour, she’s also working on a follow-up book, Live Fearless, which she says is about her "journey of finding freedom."
John Luke Robertson doesn’t need a beard
The second oldest child of Willie and Korie, John Luke also got a jumpstart on his post-Duck Dynasty career. In 2014, he authored a series of children’s books called Be Your Own Duck Commander. Two years later, he ventured into non-fiction with Young and Beardless: The Search for God, Purpose, and a Meaningful Life. According to Radar Online, it’s exactly the kind of memoir you’d expect a 19-year-old to write, filled with anecdotes about camp, volleyball, and anguish over things like his girlfriend getting texts from other guys.
Taking a cue from his sister Sadie, John Luke also seems to be making a run at building a personal brand. He’s since launched a blog called Young & Beardless, as well as promoted the handle through his Twitter and Instagram accounts, although a quick look at recent posts suggests he may already have to consider re-branding to Young & Scruffy.
Uncle Si Robertson went Si-ral
As the last season of Duck Dynasty was airing, Uncle Si launched his A&E spinoff series Going Si-ral, which pitted the quirky technophobe against the internet. Debuting in November 2016, it was basically just rotating members of the Robertson family doing a mashup of Tosh.0 and America’s Funniest Home Videos, and as of this writing, it’s unclear whether the show has been picked up for a second season—but it doesn’t matter, because Uncle Si isn’t waiting around for that call. He’s busy working on new music and about to start touring with his band, Uncle Si & The Sicotics, which is comprised of himself, his daughter-in-law Marsha Robertson, and Bridgette Tatum.
Si must have learned a thing or two from his solo series, because he and his bandmates now routinely post lengthy Facebook Live posts that not only function as way to keep fans engaged, but also play out at times like a de facto reality show. They’re also selling ringtones, which someone probably had to explain to Si are like duck calls that come from inside fancy voice-sending machines. At any rate, it looks like diehard Uncle Si fans are still able to get their fill of the eccentric Vietnam War vet, and for that we say God bless the internet, Jack!
Jase Robertson went clean-shaven for a cause
Though there was already a huge internet kerfuffle when photos of the pre-Duck Dynasty, pre-ZZ Top-bearded Robertson clan surfaced online, it happened all over again when Jase Robertson lost a battle with the buzzer in September 2017. According to The Houston Chronicle, the second oldest Robertson boy went baby-faced and clean-coiffed for a great cause.
Jase agreed to shave as part of a fundraiser for Mia Moo, the foundation he and his wife Missy founded that’s "dedicated to raising awareness and funds towards research, treatments, and causes of cleft lip & palate." Jase and Missy were moved to start the foundation after the outpouring of support they received when their own daughter, Mia, was born with — and subsequently had surgery to correct—a cleft palate. The goal for #ShaveJase was to raise $100,000, after which Jase would shave and cut his hair and record it live.
Though they missed the goal by $65,000, Jase honored his pledge, and posted the video to Facebook via his new venture, CamoFlix. In a Facebook Live interview with FaithWire, Jase described CamoFlix as "a place where outdoors people, hunters, fisherman, fisherwoman can go and share videos." Think of it like YouTube, only you need a fishing license or a hunting tag to upload.
Missy Robertson’s higher calling
A few days after Duck Dynasty‘s final episode aired, Missy Robertson spoke with the Daily Journal. When asked what was next, she said, "Right now, we’re taking some time off to rest and re-evaluate what our next steps will be after Duck Dynasty. Jase is playing a little golf, and I’m enjoying being able to travel to see [my sons] Reed and Cole, who are currently living in Nashville and Malibu, and spending time with Mia and all her activities."
As of this writing, Missy has yet to strike out on a completely new venture, but she’s continued her work with Mia Moo, as well as her jewelry line, Laminin, which she told Celebrity Page is unique in that all of the pieces are "made by women who have come out of very difficult situations." In fact, Laminin has become more than just a jewelry retailer — it’s also an outreach program. According to Vents Magazine, through the creation of the Laminin House, Missy hopes to expand into "hubs all across the United States, and will serve as a ministry to women coming out of hard situations and need assistance finding a way to break into the workforce, such as women coming out of sex trafficking, homelessness, single mothers and women in need of a purpose."
Reed Robertson’s musical aspirations
As previously mentioned by his mother Missy, Reed Robertson is currently still in Nashville, plugging away at his fledgling country music career. In an September 2017 interview on The Outdoor Experience with Blake Alma, Reed said he’d just released his new EP, although he’s still pretty far from the big time. "We had no idea what we were doing. We had a small budget," he explained in the interview, which has since been deleted from the Internet. "We didn’t have a plan, and we didn’t really have a defined sound that we were going for. We just got in the studio and had fun and just wrote, and it just kind of happened, which is really cool."
According to SheKnows, Reed’s been grinding it out in Music City for a few years now, and like the rest of his family, he draws on his Christian beliefs as a foundation for his music. Reed has also been enjoying being a married man: he got hitched to Brighton Thompson on October 29, 2016, and the newlyweds have been posting happily-ever-after Instagram shots ever since, like this photo Reed posted in June 2017 with the caption, "She keeps me on my toes, calls me on my crap and always believes in me. I married my best friend for sure."
Jep and Jessica Robertson’s spin-off
Like they did with Uncle Si, A&E greenlit a spinoff for the youngest Robertson son, Jep, and his wife Jessica just before Duck Dynasty ended. As of this writing, A&E has aired two seasons of Jep & Jessica: Growing the Dynasty; according to Premiere Date, it’s unclear whether there will be a third. But like every other Robertson, Jep and Jess couldn’t possibly have just one iron in the fire, which is why in addition to operating Jess’s jewelry line, Cavalry, the couple also launched a podcast, The Jep & Jess Show, in March 2017.
Speaking with ET, the busy couple said the show will be "all the things you don’t know about us…behind the cameras." They also said the show would definitely feature regular visits from the rest of the Robertson family, a promise they’ve fulfilled multiple times—especially during a September 2017 episode featuring none other than Uncle Si, who discussed, among other things, "skunk battles and lucky deer shots." So in case you were worried, yes, all the charm of the reality show is still intact.
Now that we’ve gotten you caught up with the stars of Duck Dynasty, let’s take a look back at some of the lesser-known tidbits of trivia from the Robertsons’ earlier years and see how well you know the real story of this famous clan.