Say whatever you want about the dynamic NeNe Leakes but she has taken her Real Housewives Of Atlanta stardom and catapulted it into a new career. NeNe has no time for the haters, but she does have some advice for any wannabe Ms. Leakes – starting with Be Yourself, because there is only ONE NeNe Leakes and don’t you forget it! Bloop!
Confronting rumors that she’s done with Housewives, NeNe admits she’s not ready to abandon RHOA and that she’s confident that she has used this “amazing platform” to the best of her advantage!
“It’s very difficult to be in the public’s eye. You get judged all the time. It’s bittersweet,” NeNe acknowledged. “I just try to remain NeNe and be as humble as I can.” Humble is not the word that comes to mind when I think NeNe… Just me?
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Knowing when those Louboutin boots are ready to walk, NeNe says a spinoff doesn’t interest her, but neither does remaining a Housewife. “Housewives is an amazing platform. We have millions of viewers. I’m known from that show. I started there. I can’t say that I will remain full time all the time. I feel like I always want to be able to play. I always want to see the show do well. So, in order for the show to do well, I feel like I can’t… I don’t want to abandon the show. When the time comes for me to totally step away, I’m sure I will. I just don’t know when.”
“When you do a show by yourself, that’s a lot of pressure. You are the entertainment. I’ve been offered my own show. [But] I don’t want the pressure,” claims NeNe. “You need people around you to balance off of and play off of.
However that doesn’t daunt NeNe who considers herself a trailblazer. With a clothing line for HSN that sold out in one day, a recent stint on Broadway, reportedly several new TV projects in the works, and a budding internet-talk show – oh an airport pizza franchise NeNe has no qualms about makin’ them coins, honey!
“There was no Love & Hip Hop, Hollywood Wives, or whatever. There were no African-American shows like that with ensembles. We just came on the scene and just did whatever. We had no handbook,” NeNe quips. “We had nothing to look at.”
Harkening back to the good old days when RHOA was fun (and real – save for a few Kim Zolciak WIGS), NeNe recalls how low-budget it all was. “I remember looking back at some old footage from Season 1 — we were sitting in the interviews, half makeup done,” she shares. “Now, these girls have all of us to look to so they know now when they’re sitting in an interview, they need to look a certain way.”
Speaking of which, NeNe says she is very aware of the evil eye of editing! “They don’t really show the whole 360. They don’t show the soft side sometimes. I don’t think they really show the vulnerable side of me,” she tells Buzzfeed.
“I don’t think that they show how big of a heart I have. But I guess people think I’m cool. They obviously do because I get people all the time saying, ‘Hey NeNe! I would love to have drinks with you!’ So obviously, they think that I’m cool enough to have a drink with!”
Which of course brings NeNe to discussing why it’s important to stay collected and remain one’s composure. “Some of the reality shows we watch can be very, very negative. There’s a lot of physical fighting. I’m not interested in that. I’ve never been in a physical fight on our show ever,” says NeNe ignoring all of the threats she’s made! She said what she said…
“I honestly don’t feel like you need to stoop to the level of physically fighting on camera. For what? There is no check that’s big enough for that,” continues NeNe. “I certainly have had my moments of arguments on the show. But physically fighting to me is crossing the line. I don’t think that it helps your image, and I don’t think that you can open up doors or opportunities when you’re doing things like that.” I wonder if she has given friend Porsha Williams that very same lecture… And I agree it certainly has not helped Porsha’s image – or her checkbook!
Speaking of checkbooks, NeNe believes reality TV only works if it’s authentic, so when you’re creating fake storylines the pageantry doesn’t pay off!
“You should do something you enjoy doing when you’re on the show,” counsels the Divine Ms. Leakes. “So many of the girls, when I watch them on these shows, I want to just reach through the screen and tap them on the shoulder and be like, ‘Why are you doing that?! Why are you saying that?!’” I wonder if NeNe ever asks NAYNAY that very same question #YourClitHasLeftYourBody
As it so happens, It’s every Housewife for herself, so do not expect NayNay to take a day off while you bone-up on your reading skills! “I feel like a lot of [women] come on these shows to look for the next hot guy, or the guy with money, like they don’t really have the brain to do other stuff,” states NeNe.
“They’re always looking for somebody to take care of them. I am not looking for anybody to take care of me,” reminds NeNe. “I love being independent. Because I don’t like the control of telling me what I can do.” Which is why Gregg stays in the basement! Bloop!
Part of being NeNe means be original – even if your wig looks like Ramen and your designer came from T.J. Maxx! Hey – at least that makes you memorable, right?!
“I think that these girls are in competition with who can wear the longest weave. They all look the same,” dismisses NeNe. “What are you doing different than the other girl? Really, nothing. Everybody has a long, black weave. Who can wear 30 inches? Who can wear 40 inches? Parted down the middle. Straight. What else is going on? They all are the same.”
Of course, pretty is as pretty does and NeNe wants to remind us hat all the plastic surgery, fake booties, fake boobs, former beauty queen crowns and collapsed catwalks, doesn’t guarantee you’ll come out on top!
“You need to have the ‘it’ factor all the way around. A lot of them are banking on ‘I’m cute.’ Well, cute ain’t going to work, honey. Cute don’t pay no bills. It doesn’t get you jobs,” announces NeNe. “If you ain’t got a brain or nothing, that just really doesn’t work. A lot of them are just there to figure out how long their weave can be. That’s all I see, child. That’s why my hair’s short and blonde. I stand out.”
Yes, NeNe does stand out! That’s one way of looking at it, but NeNe says being African-American, means being even more aware of perception and standing out in the right way. “The industry for a brown girl, it’s very different than for a vanilla girl. We have to walk through different doors. We have to carry ourselves a different way. We are perceived very differently in the industry,” explains NeNe.
“Sometimes, somebody vanilla could do the exact same thing I’m doing [yet] I would get judged. So we have to do different things,” NeNe continues. “I think at some point, I thought to myself, I know that I got to take a different road. I got to do something different. I was just like, ‘OK, well since everybody is going to the right I’m going to go left.’”
In fact, according to NeNe, honesty is the best policy – even if you lose friends and alienate people, even if you also get your feelings hurt in the process. “Sometimes, you get to a place where you’re just like, ‘Listen, I don’t feel like lying.’ You ask me, I tell you. I don’t feel like trying to sugarcoat this. Sometimes the truth hurts,” snaps NeNe.
“My husband said, ‘Well, maybe you just don’t have to say everything.’ Maybe not,” concedes NeNe. “But sometimes I do … I just tell them what time it is and just be like, ‘Look, there’s no need for me to hold anything back.’ I feel like I don’t have anything to lose.”
Well there you go in a nutshell – every bit of advice NeNe can dole out on how to conquer RHOA. Do you think any of her co-stars are taking notes?
Tonight is an all new episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta and we’ll be live-tweeting the madness, as always! Join us!
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[Photo Credit: Bravo]