The Reality Rundown

NeNe Leakes Talks RHOA: The House She Built, Declined Ratings and Cynthia’s Betrayal

Hey Castmates! The reality world has gotten the interview that so many of us have been waiting for! The Carlos King sat down with the OG Queen that put Real Housewives and RHOA on the map, NeNe Leakes! I don’t think anyone can deny the powerhouse, that is NeNe Leakes, and her presence is surely missed on our televisions, but Carlos King is giving the people what they want with this sit-down interview. Here’s all the pivotal moments from Part 1 of this interview.

NeNe Leakes (looking stunning) strutted on the set to join Carlos King for an in-person interview. Carlos talks about how NeNe requested to do this interview in person instead of “Zoom” which is how most of Kings’ interviews are conducted. The duo gets ready to talk about it all as they cheer and recap on iconic lines such as “Kandi, let’s go make some beats” and “the only thing we have in common is the number 8, yours is going and mine has been here” as Carlos remarks “yeah, those were the good ole days when the show was good.”

Carlos asked NeNe if she has watched the past few seasons and here’s what she had to say. “Honestly, I have watched clips that come down on social media but turning my tv on and tuning in, is just something I cannot do. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all sitting in my house, the house that I built, and it seems like it’s tumbling down.” Carlos nods in agreement and seems to agree that NeNe did “build” that home and it is in fact dwindling.

#RHOA is the house that Nene built!

— Andy Cohen (@Andy) October 23, 2018

Carlos tells NeNe that this interview has been years in the making. He says that she has been his most requested guest. Carlos goes on to give NeNe her flowers and tells her how much he loves her friendship and really values her as a person and what she did for the real housewives’ franchise.

Carlos and NeNe talk about the episode that skyrocketed RHOA’s fame and it’s the moment that she learns she was left off the list to a party that Sheree was throwing to celebrate her birthday. Carlos said that Sheree admitted to leaving Nene’s name off the list on purpose years later because at the time her and NeNe weren’t getting along. Sheree basically didn’t want someone in her home that she was having issues with. NeNe responded, “It was the best thing she could have ever done by leaving me off the list. I became bigger than ever, so I appreciate that moment Sheree, thank you.” Carlos asked, “Do you dislike Sheree?” NeNe responded, “I do not dislike Sheree because before filming we used to hang out together, visit each other’s homes, at the time we would even watch Bob play football. I don’t know why but we just haven’t connected or clicked in years.” NeNe further stated, with her being such an important part of the show she felt the ladies would turn against her, but she does think Sheree can be a lot of fun when she wants to be, and they’ve had some good times together.

Carlos asked NeNe if she thought that herself, Sheree, and Kim Zolciak were the stars of the show. NeNe responded saying that her and Kim were the stars of the show and Sheree “played her part” in the show. NeNe said, “I don’t think the network, or the production company really valued her that much. She’s not the most exciting person in the world but she has her parts that she does on the show…but what’s your question again.” After laughing together, Carlos circles back to the early days of RHOA and asked NeNe if she thinks she developed an ego after season 1 aired. NeNe makes a great point to say that viewers will sometimes mistake “change” for “ego” even when they’ve picked you apart. She said, “All of these people are pulling you apart, every single day and you feel like you have no choice. They pull apart your wig, so you go and get the best wig, they pull apart your makeup, so you go and get a better makeup artist. Then they’ll say, “oh she’s changed” and it’s like damn well you just pulled me apart.” NeNe goes on to say that through this process you learn what to say and not say, how to act and not act. She says over the years all of us women make changes, “We all get new eyes, new nose, new tits and new a**, we have to.”

Carlos asked NeNe at what point did she think the show was changing and becoming different than how RHOA started. NeNe refers to season 5 when Kenya and Porsha joined the show. She goes on to say that when the show started the issues that she, Kim, Lisa, Sheree, and DeShawn were facing were “real” unlike what began to happen starting season 5. She says, “Our issues were real, our husbands and boyfriends were real, when we had disagreements, they were real. We didn’t pretend to have a boyfriend when we didn’t have one. It became this “let’s create our storyline” when before we just showed up to work filming our actual lives. That kind of stuff for me changed the dynamic of the show.” She goes on to talk about how in seasons prior when Phaedra came on the show, she claimed to not know her correct due date. Carlos commented, “There are chicks in the hood, who don’t know who they’re pregnant by but know how far along they are.”

NeNe reveals that on season 1 of RHOA her total check was only $10,000 and an extra $5,000 for the reunion. She says by season 3 all the ladies came together to get an attorney and they were paid $100,000 for season 3. She goes on to say “In the early seasons, we were all real housewives, and our husbands were the ones that mostly worked. So, I think we were just happy getting out of the house and doing something. So, when you see all of us dressing and those events, we paid for those out of our pocket.

Carlos asked NeNe to confirm that producers asked her to meet with Cynthia to help bring her into the show. NeNe confirms that is how they met because prior to that she had no idea who Cynthia was. Carlos asked NeNe if she had ever heard of Cynthia and NeNe says the only supermodels she had heard of were Naomi, Tyra, and Beverly. Carlos throws in that Cynthia was on the Cosby Show as well to which NeNe responded, “Well I didn’t see it okay…ya’ll tried it” and Carlos laughs. NeNe says that even though she enjoyed meeting Cynthia and that she really enjoyed her and liked her, she was unsure if she would be a great fit for the show because she was quiet but that was before I met Peter. Carlos asked, “What did you think of Peter when you met him?” Before NeNe answers, Carlos erupts in laughter at the face that NeNe is making. She says, “When I met Peter, I thought…. too much, too much but I was like I see why they want Cynthia now” as she laughs. When asked if Cynthia would have made it on the show without Peter? NeNe said that she believes that the behind-the-camera Cynthia would have because she was very strong, opinionated, and vocal whereas as the “on-camera” Cynthia probably would not have. She says Cynthia put Peter “in his place” many days and Carlos agrees that he has been witness to that as well. Carlos said, “Oh, yeah I have seen her cuss him out” and NeNe said that’s why she didn’t understand when people thought Cynthia allowed Peter to make her a pushover. Carlos said that Cynthia had even made Peter sleep at his former business BarOne overnight.

Carlos goes on to talk about the recent headlines of NeNe’s son Bryson who was recently caught up in legal trouble involving drugs and attempting to use his brother’s identity. NeNe goes on to say she’s spoken to him and believes that he needs rehabilitation and counseling. She said that unfortunately her son is an addict that has been struggling with drugs for years and it’s been difficult to watch her son and his family struggling with this. She said she has learned through counseling herself that her past attempts at making him go to rehab didn’t work because it needs to be when he is ready. She says, “I’ll never wash my hands of my child but I’m numb to it. It’s been happening for so many years and I’m really kind of numb to the situation.

The conversation shifts gears when Carlos asked NeNe if being on the show caused her and Greg to get a divorce. NeNe says that the issues in the marriage came about when she became the breadwinner. Greg didn’t like that she didn’t need him financially and that in some way it made him feel emasculated. NeNe said, “Greg is from Atlanta, born and raised. He was the true definition of an OG and so he felt like his role as the husband and head of the household was to take care of his family. In a sense, I took some of that role away from him when I started making more money than him and not needing him. I literally did not need him at one point to not even put up a light bulb. I’d just put it up myself or call someone to do it. I thought in my mind that I was making our life easier, but I was taking roles away from him as the man, the head of the household.”

Carlos brings up the infamous John that viewers got to meet when NeNe and Greg got divorced and he gifted her a Rolex watch. NeNe informs Carlos that she spoke with John just last night because he wanted to offer to take Bryson to a rehabilitation center when he’s released and pay for it. NeNe says she has gotten calls from people like Lamar Odom who also offered the same thing. She said she’s so appreciative of those reaching out and trying to help her son because she feels like her hands are tied and that she has done all that she knows how to do.

Carlos asks NeNe did she enjoy being single and dating because she had been married for such a long time to Greg, the first time around? NeNe says that she has always been a relationship girl and had always been in a relationship so solely dating didn’t fulfill her the same. She said, “I met John when I was on Celebrity Apprentice and shortly after we were in a relationship. I really am a relationship person. I don’t get to go on dates that often and I really don’t know what it’s like. I enjoyed dating someone that had more money than me and John had way more money than me. I didn’t have to spend my money because I could spend all of his and he wouldn’t miss it because he has so much money, it’s ridiculous.” She goes on to say how she loved the freedom that money brings and although that didn’t fulfill her in all the over places, his pockets filled up her closet.

Carlos segues into one of NeNe’s most iconic lines “close your legs to married men” but rumors are that she opened her legs to a married man, Yoni. NeNe clears the air by saying her guy was in the middle of his legal divorce and is completely divorced today. Unlike “Big Papa” who NeNe says she recently ran into him and his wife are still together in Miami. She goes on to say she met Yoni a month after Greg passed and a lot of people told her that she didn’t take proper time to grieve. She goes on to say, “When I look back, I thank God for Yoni because I don’t think I could have made it. He kept my mind busy; he kept me going and that’s not saying I didn’t grieve; I’ll grieve a lot because grieving is very hard.” NeNe says she wants her next relationship to be private. This comes on the heels of people claiming Yoni was only in a relationship as an opportunist. Carlos says that he has always heard there should be only “one star” per household. NeNe admits that Greg was her ultimate love, and she doubts that she’ll find love like that again.

The conversation shifts back to season 5 when Porsha and Kenya join the show. Carlos asked NeNe if she thinks Kenya and Porsha saved the show. NeNe responded, “I don’t know…you would have to take me back to that time, but I do know they were great additions. We all were so excited to have Kenya because we knew her as Miss USA. I didn’t know Porsha at all, but I knew her grandfather, so I was excited to meet her as well. NeNe talks about the tension between Kenya and Porsha including the infamous twirl that had viewers and NeNe saying “what the hell is happening?” NeNe goes on to say that Porsha was on the chopping block mainly because her husband at the time was holding her back. Carlos confirmed that Porsha was on the chopping block and the producers just didn’t want her back. NeNe and Kandi talked with producers and the network repeatedly asking them to keep Porsha on the show. As an executive producer of season 6, Carlos confirms that season 6 of RHOA is the highest rated season ever on Bravo and it reached close to 5 million viewers. NeNe says, “Season six had five million and this current season 15 is only 500. That’s the difference. Wow. What a big difference. Okay” Carlos shifts in his seat trying to control his laughter saying, “We’ll get to that in a second, baby.” NeNe credits the success of season 6 to all the women working hard and putting in effort. She said some seasons some people wouldn’t work to push the narrative of the season but this season all of the ladies were doing their part.

Carlos asked NeNe if her rift with Kenya was due to her possibly taking her “star” spotlight. NeNe said, “I have never thought Kenya was the star of the show and I’m not being shady. I think Kenya is great on the show and she was a great addition to the show when she came on and I think the show needs Kenya.” Carlos brings up the infamous “pillow talk” event where the cast were all in their pajamas and lingerie at the intercontinental. He goes on to say, “I’m going to break the fourth wall here. Kenya was late to your event, and you became frustrated. I don’t think a lot of people know this but as the host of an event there are pressures on you to make sure the event is good. And let’s be clear want this s**t to be used, so its like you b***hes aren’t about to embarrass me for my event because I show up to ya’ll events.” NeNe said that Kenya and her never got a chance to consistently click like viewers wanted them to but that she doesn’t have any issues with her, and they recently ran into each other at Neiman Marcus.

Carlos shifts to asking NeNe what she thinks was the downfall of her and Cynthia’s relationship and if the fans contributed to the demise of the friendship. Carlos asked if he thinks people got in Cynthia’s ear with the narrative of “Cynthia is weak and NeNe runs all over her” and if Cynthia took those comments to heart. NeNe says, “I think Cynthia definitely let people get into her head. Like a lot of girls, even Marlo at a point was acting the same. I feel like those girls wanted to have their own identity which they did but they would always let people get in their head like NeNe is running this and NeNe is running that. I’m like if we’re friends and you know what our friendship is don’t let somebody get in your head because you know I’m not running you. I think they felt in their heart they needed to prove it somehow.”

Carlos asked NeNe how Cynthia is different behind-the-scenes versus what we see on television. NeNe refers to Cynthia being a strong woman who isn’t a pushover and has an alter-ego “50 Cynt” as Cynthia loves to joke. NeNe said she does miss the friendship that Cynthia and her once shared but she doesn’t think they will ever be able to rekindle anything. She says there are things behind the scenes that she can’t respect. Carlos asked, “Was she trying to stop your bag?” NeNe responded, “As much as she was on camera saying I was trying to stop hers. I know a lot, honey. She was in alliance with some housewives and producers. Carlos is shocked to hear this information.

Carlos goes on to say, “It saddens me where things are because you were the anchor of the show. Not to be disrespectful to the other girls because I don’t mean for it to come across this way, but they really did look up to you in the sense of…what are we going to do. NeNe responds, “I didn’t feel that though. I always felt unsupported on the show. These are just my feelings. I don’t think I was supported the way I should have been from the girls and from production. Now I could be looking at it totally wrong, but I didn’t feel it. It felt like every new person would come on the show and go after NeNe. It was tiring.”

Carlos goes on to say at one-point NeNe was the most famous reality tv star in the world. He asked if she keeps in touch with television producer Ryan Murphy and NeNe said she hasn’t talked to him in years but that it’s all love. NeNe says she has never had any issues on set other than housewives. NeNe said, “I’m not one of those talents that shows up to set and I need this chicken wing, a whole bunch of drinks because I don’t need any of that. All I need is some water and my check. That’s all I need, honey. I show up, I do what they ask me to do and goodbye.” The part 1 interview ends on a cliffhanger with Carlos asking, “Why did you feel the need to sue Bravo, Andy and NBC?.”

If you want to watch the full interview head over to YouTube and watch the exclusive part 1 interview on Carlos King’s YouTube channel. Be sure to check back here on The Reality Rundown for Part 2 coming soon! We can’t wait to hear NeNe’s side of this story!

Stay Tuned Castmates……

Corinne Johnson

Corinne has been an actor in television since 2015, starring in shows such as Fatal Attraction, Killer Couples, and many more. When she isn't busy staying current on pop culture, she's actively working in the entertainment industry, filming TV shows and conducting interviews for hot shows like The Real Housewives franchise. In addition, she is a correspondent for The Reality Rundown, and she can be seen conducting interviews with reality TV stars while occasionally hosting The Reality Rundown podcast and live sessions on Instagram.
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