NeNe Leakes was lucky enough to land herself on the cover of Ebony Magazine for their 2012 Money & Power issue, on newstands now. Unfortunately Ebony's decision was met by controversy and extreme reaction by many readers, who didn't feel the Real Housewives of Atlanta star represented the African American community or the revered issue of the magazine well.
NeNe is defending her cover and claims she absolutely deserves to be there! “This cover is about money, power, and respect. And it’s about a come-up story and I’m the one that had that story this year … Not only did I come out as a reality star that was very boisterous and vivacious and outspoken and all those things. I flipped that into money and respect. And a lot of people can’t do that," NeNe shared with The Daily Beast.
NeNe also reveals that almost all the criticism against her comes from the African American community. “But listen to me, definitely all of the negative feedback definitely came from my own; African Americans were the ones that were the most negative,” NeNe reveals.
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“And it’s so funny to me because I would call [the editor] over at Ebony and she would say ‘Girl please, glass houses. That’s all it is. They don’t want to see you on the cover, they don’t really understand the reason why you’re on the cover, they don’t know your story.’”
"There are a lot of girls on these reality shows who are on there for the purpose of fame," NeNe explains. "That was never my story. I’m on there for money, because I wanted to be able take care of my family."
NeNe has found her supporters, however. Wendy Williams, who also appeared in the issue, defended NeNe's cover referring to the critics as “crabs in a barrel.”
And perhaps no matter what detractors think, NeNe has earned respect. She is the break-out star of one of America's most popular reality shows, and the most watched series of the Housewives franchise. She's transferred that success into network television and now two sit-com roles on immensely popular series. And through it all she has remained outspoken, larger than life, and unabashed about who she is.
“Those who take issue with reality television’s role in pop culture have questioned whether Ebony made the right decision by glorifying one of its most popular characters,” said Amy Dubois Barnett, the magazine’s editor in chief, explains. But she feels confident in Ebony's decision to have NeNe represent the issue.
“As the magazine of record for the black community, it is Ebony’s role to both reflect the aesthetics and interests of our readership, and to inspire them toward higher aspirations for themselves and for all African Americans," Ms. Barnett clarifies.
"The November issue featured the Obamas on the cover, and was a perfect example of the latter. The December/January issue featuring NeNe Leakes on the cover is an excellent example of the former.”
Despite the negative reactions from her own community, NeNe remains undaunted. “It’s true and I know you’ve heard it a million times, [African Americans] just don’t support one another,” NeNe laments.
“But it’s OK for you to go pick up a magazine cover with Kim Kardashian. She’s my girl. We are cool. We talk. We do drinks and all of that. But her story ain’t no different than mine. You know what I mean? I might’ve worked at the strip club, but she made a sex tape.”
And there you have it – some girls have all the luck. And some girls have all the critics. But one thing is for sure, NeNe isn't going anywhere and she's not shying away from being herself – haters or not!
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