NeNe Leakes sat down with Andy Cohen for an epic one-on-one interview on Watch What Happens Live. I have to say, NeNe was really candid, blunt, and endearing. And she's a wealth of information! I wish I could do a one-on-one and ply her for secrets.
First up, in case you weren't aware: NeNe definitely considers Real Housewives of Atlanta "her" show. And she's very protective of original Housewives in general. "I'm the star, I'm the boss. When people think of Atlanta Housewives, they think NeNe Leakes," she informed Andy.
NeNe shared that RHOA was originally called Ladies of Atlanta with her being the first lady cast. They were totally going for a Real Housewives of Orange County women of an elite gated community format. NeNe introduced Sheree Whitfield and DeShawn Snow to the cast.
Shockingly, NeNe says that Sheree used to be a really low-maintenance, and didn't wear extensions or makeup. "She was just this plain girl and had this really great life with this really great athlete." They were friends since Sheree's newlywed days and hung out all the time. NeNe was her sidekick at many a Falcons' games when Bob was still playing.
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Unfortunately NeNe and Sheree's friendship fell apart almost immediately after the show came into the picture. NeNe shares that they started arguing in their first production meeting and claims Sheree is the type of friend that wants you to reveal all your secrets while never telling you any of hers!
NeNe had a lot to say – about everything – so let's break it down.
On Kim Zolciak, Their Fights and History:
In flashbacks scenes before they were Wig and Moose, they look hilarious! "Kim and I both looked crazy. We looked ridiculous and we thought we were so hot. We look so much better now!" My how things have changed… from synthetic wigs from the Halloween store to Clorox Hats and Louboutins. They do look much better now, but they were so much more fun then! Seriously – their hair evolution throughout the seasons is the best part of this interview!
NeNe says that during the first season she was shocked to see how Kim threw her under the bus and she never expected that. "It felt like she would be more loyal to me." As for their explosive fight during the S1 reunion where NeNe launched on Kim, she regrets it but doesn't feel it was unwarranted. "It was the first time I've ever seen myself explode that way. It was embarrassing," NeNe admits. "If any one of my girlfriends turned on me I would do the same thing."
"Kim has a mouth on her. She really does. And she'll make you go there!" As for Kim's allegations that NeNe choked her in the parking lot between seasons, NeNe confesses! "Something did happen…," NeNe concurs. "Everybody came out fine. Wig in tact!"
NeNe says they've both moved on and they wish each other the best. She's never met Kim's two sons or really spent any time with Kroy Biermann.
"I wanna trust her. It's hard for me trust her that she would be, like, a good friend," NeNe says. "But I don't wanna go back into a relationship with her again and we stop being friends again."
Still despite all her bragging about being the last original Housewife and how Kim was fired, NeNe says Kim's parting from the show was bittersweet. "We started this journey together and I just didn't want her to leave. I felt like if she left it just won't be the same. We need Wig here and we need to get in to it with her."
On Kandi Burruss Suing Kim Over 'Tardy For The Party':
"It's really weird that Kandi is going after her [Kim] now," NeNe wondered. "Why didn't she do it a long time ago?" NeNe believes Kandi wanted all the ladies to support her against Kim at the reunion, but she's over it. "I've been yelling about Kim for a long time."
On Sheree, Their Relationship and Her Firing:
"Sheree, out of all the girls, is the one I would never have anything else to do with. I think Sheree is very evil. I think she's very mean. And she was a true bitch." NeNe describes Sheree as "super secretive." She "just wasn't a good friend. I don't wanna have anything to do with her."
"Sheree needed to go," NeNe says of her leaving the show. "Sheree brought a lot of negative energy to the cast. She's just a negative person… with an attitude – and nothing going on." NeNe says one issue is that Sheree is "not a grateful person. She feels very entitled."
And NeNe has not driven by Chateau Sheree as of late "It's just sittin' up there like a box," she quipped. It's probably a good thing NeNe stayed away – She By SheBroke might have sued her for trespassing. We know NeNe is very rich, bitch! Plonk.
NeNe does not blame the show at all for the problems in her marriage or for her divorce. "The problems we had entering the show, they just magnified," NeNe explained.
In fact she believes the same can be said for all Housewife divorces. "A lot of these men… have been independent men; they worked, they support their families and we were their Housewives. Their real housewives! And all of the sudden we're like in the spotlight – it's hard for a lot of men to take."
NeNe says Gregg knew she was dating John Kolaj and he was also dating other people during that time. NeNe kept all the fabulous gifts John gave her – why not?! – and they still have a business relationship. She owns one of his pizza franchises. NeNe also revealed that her engagement ring was paid for by Gregg (not The New Normal) and contains a carat for every year they were together pre-divorce. So that's 15 for those who are keeping track! Dang girl – get an Alexis Bellino approved Cubic Zirconium!
On Porsha Stewart, Her Divorce From Kordell, and Remaining on RHOA:
"I didn't see him filing divorce on her. And I didn't think he wouldn't show up at the reunion! It was just very weird to me," NeNe says of Kordell's surprise divorce.
"It's almost like Porsha would be around us and she would have on this face, but it was nothing like she was saying. I don't know if… Porsha… if it was going over her head that they were having real problems." NeNe says Kordell had a ton of rules for what Porsha could and could not do or say on the show, including not mentioning his son from a previous relationship.
Since Kordell filed, NeNe says she has been in constant contact with Porsha texting and talking daily. Apparently they're down-low BFFs. "No one did that for me," NeNe says of when she and Gregg divorced. "I try to lift her up and give her words of encouragement. The way Kordell did it was very cruel to me."
I wonder what Cynthia Bailey makes of all this – is that in violation of code 356 of their friendship contract?!
As for Porsha returning for next season, NeNe says she's fine with that if Kordell remains out of the picture! Apparently Porsha's naivete reminds NeNe of herself during her first season.
"If Porsha came back a second season with Kordell, he would keep her from saying things. He'd already stopped her from saying and doing stuff, you know what I mean. This show is about your life and what's going on your life. I thought that Porsha wouldn't be right to come back with Kordell."
"My opinion has changed now that Kordell has filed for divorce - she should come right on back!" NeNe enthused. "He didn't want her to be 'Porsha'. Now she can be herself. Porsha has a big personality and a lot of life in her."
The most surprising part of NeNe's sit-down was that she expressed serious respect and dare I say like of Phaedra – despite their differences. I told y'all they'd team up to take down Kenya. Watch it…
NeNe does take issue with Phaedra's multiple personalities though and doesn't like the wannabe Southern Belle with a Jesus streak. "I like the Phaedra who is reading and talking her trash. I like the fun Phaedra," NeNe says.
"I thought I saw the real Phaedra," at the reunion. "Phaedra and I have had our differences but I liked that she read. And I liked that she did it very calmly and coolly." As for who won between Kenya and Phaedra, it was a no brainer for NeNe: "Phaedra came out ahead." And NeNe gave her serious credit for being hilarious about it!
On Kenya and Walter Jackson's "Relationship":
"I believe there was never a relationship. Never. I believe Kenya and Walter had a pact coming onto the show and it didn't work out in the end."
"I like Jersey. They're such gangsters. They're so entertaining to me. But they're getting too nasty," NeNe said. She says she initially was totally Team Teresa, but then switched to Team Melissa, but now she's Team Neither. Ultimately though she has Teresa's back.
"I feel for Teresa. When you're the first one in on one of these shows and somebody comes behind you, it's kinda like, 'Hold on – respect the veteran. I was here first and you came over here and were tryin' to play on my territory, honey.' So I kinda side with Teresa on that issue," NeNe sympathizes. "Listen Melissa, you came on HER show. So you watched her on television and you wanted to be on the show like she was. So I'm with Teresa there."
"I'm the star, I'm the boss. When people think of Atlanta Housewives, they think NeNe Leakes. When people think of New Jersey, they think Teresa Giudice."
And somewhere bile came up in Melissa's throat, cause honey that hurts.
NeNe says all the originals are "bosses" in her eyes. "I feel like Vicki [Gunvalson] is the boss. Ramona [Singer] is the boss. I'm the boss. You came on MY show," she warns newbies. "We have a work ethic that is very different than the new girls that are coming on the show. Maybe it's because we had something to prove?" And what do all the originals, including Teresa, have in common? "Big personalities."
NeNe says when Housewives from other seasons get together with each other they mostly dish on what happened behind the scenes, who hates whom, and it seems like what really happened without editing. She alerted us that you can learn a lot about cast friction and behavior by studying group photos. Everyone has a "position" in their cast.
NeNe says their dynamic is "very weird" and one lady in particular rubs her the wrong way. "Brandi [Glanville] is just a trainwreck. Just a wreck. All the things that she has to say; she's just so talkative. She's gonna get read."
"She thinks she's a gangster. She thinks she can get in people's faces and say whatever she wants to say," NeNe says. "I like her when she's not drinking. Brandi and drinks don't work for me."
NeNe's least favorite group is Real Housewives of Orange County. "I don't connect with them," she revealed. "I almost want you to recast Orange County. A couple of them are quite boring." Andy looked totally speechless and abruptly changed the subject on this. It was hilarious.
NeNe warns that she's not going anywhere soon, but she definitely has regrets from her time as a Housewife. "I'll be around for as long as you guys will have me," NeNe said. "I feel like I'm the madame of this show."
"I regret a lot of things. I regret my marriage being out there publicly. I regret some of the fights I had with Kim. I had to have 'em but I hate that it happened on camera. I hate that I ever told you guys about Sheree."
Still it is a positive experience for her. "Being on this show has been so amazing. I couldn't be more blessed."
All in all, I thought it was a good interview. NeNe came across thoughtfully and genuine to me and wasn't putting on too many fronts. She definitely has an ego the size of Texas but she's earned her stripes as one of the most successful ladies to erupt from the Bravolebrity scene. NeNe admits she faces some judgment in Hollywood because of her background, but she's not worried and compared to how people treated Housewives a couple years ago in the entertainment industry things have come a loooong way!
[Photo Credit: BravoTV.com]
TELL US – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF NENE'S CANDID INTERVIEW? ARE YOU SURPRISED SHE HAD NICE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT PHAEDRA? WHO DO YOU THINK SHE WANTS FIRED FROM RHOC?