The Real Housewives of Atlanta star is touted for being one of the first (and really the only) cross-over reality TV stars – i.e. making the shift from reality TV to scripted television in a regular role. NeNe had a season-long guest role on the hit show Glee and starting this fall she will be a regular castmember on Ryan Murphy‘s new sitcom The New Normal.
According to the WSJ: “The divide between reality shows and more-traditional scripted series has long been the Berlin Wall of the TV landscape. Talent competitions like ‘American Idol’ have launched successful entertainers, and so-called docusoaps like ‘Real Housewives’ have created their own genus of celebrity. But stars who find fame under their own names have trouble getting work as fictional characters.”
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“The more you know someone on screen as a human, the less they can transition into someone else. It’s a difficult bridge,” Allison Adler, co-creator of The New Normal, adds.
NeNe, who dabbled in acting before she was a reality star, has managed to bridge that gap. Ryan Murphy says he saw NeNe’s feisty personality on RHOA and Celebrity Apprentice and called her directly about appearing on Glee – things took off from there. She was offered the part on The New Normal via text message.
And fans of RHOA will see NeNe filming for The New Normal in the new season of RHOA – also currently taping. NeNe has a Bravo film crew on set with her, but the cameras are “confined to her dressing room.”
“If [fellow actors] see me walking around with a reality-show camera, they won’t take me seriously,” NeNe explains. And NeNe takes her roles very seriously, on the set she asked to be addressed as “Rocky” (her character) even when they weren’t filming. She likes to stay in character.
While NeNe is thrilled with her success, she promises she’s not letting it go to her head (or her weave). And even though she may be a “rich bitch” she’s not living like one. The reality star and actress claims she just hired her first assistant.
“You have to bring home a lot of money if you have a lot of those people around. I wanted to be able to see my money,” NeNe says. Hear that She by SheBroke? Or Kim Zolciak Biermann of the $1M+ wedding
Following her appearance on CA, NeNe hired a new agent, Steven Grossman of the Collective. Steven says the goal was to “boost her crossover appeal” and to change the perception of NeNe from ”bitchy and mean” to “sassy and confident.”
It seems like their plans have paid off – NeNe is hugely popular on Glee. Even for viewers who have never seen RHOA.
However, don’t count on other reality stars having the same success – even Bravo warns it’s likely not possible! “A lot of them want to be famous actors; very few people have the talent. NeNe has an exceptional personality,” says Shari Levine, Bravo’s senior vice president of production.
So what do NeNe’s reality TV co-stars think of her amazing success? Well true to form there’s some jealousy involved – at least according to NeNe! “They have all said ‘congratulations’ and ‘we’re proud of you.’ Do I feel it from everybody? That’s another story.”
I have to say, landing the WSJ is pretty damn impressive! That’s some Bethenny Frankel levels of success right there. Congrats NeNe!
The above photo is of NeNe with Glee and The New Normal creator Ryan Murphy.
[Photo Credit: NeNe Leakes' Twitter]
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