On the latest episode of Bethenny Frankel’s ReWives podcast, Nene Leakes alleged that as the only Black original cast member on Real Housewives of Atlanta, she endured “a lot of unfair treatment” and was offered fewer episodes than her white counterparts.
“I felt that over the years that I was treated differently,” Leakes said. “Lisa Vanderpump walked off [The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills], never returned. She still got [Vanderpump Rules] and she can still sit over there and talk to Andy [Cohen] all day long if she wants to. [Teresa Giudice] can go to prison and stay for 10 years and they’ll wait until she gets back and then the show will start again. But the Black girls do not get that same treatment.”
Leakes was a main cast member on Atlanta during Seasons 1 through 7 and 10 through 12, and appeared as a recurring guest in Season 8 before announcing her departure from the show in 2020.
“I was given less and less and less episodes every season,” she said. “When I decide to leave, I think it was down to six episodes.”
When Frankel asked why she thought she was given less screen time despite her undisputed status as the show’s breakout star, Leakes replied: “It felt like I was being phased out. I didn’t understand why I was given less and less episodes, and I was asking, ‘Why am I given less and less and less every season, and everyone else is getting more?’ I was constantly being told by the executives in the offices that I was unhappy. And I don’t know how you tell a person they’re unhappy.”
“Again, I go back to—I’m the only original Housewife on the show, and all the other original Housewives on their shows are white women, and they’re all given full episodes,” Leakes went on. “I’m the only Black original on my show and I was given less.”
She added: “In the end, the reason I made the decision that I’m not going to be able to take these six episodes [was because] it was during the Black Lives Matter movement. I got on the phone with the executives and they wanted me to come for Kandi [Burruss], is what they said.”
Burruss, a fellow Atlanta Housewife, frequently butted heads with Leakes, and Bravo executives “wanted me to make sure that I confront her and I address her and all that stuff,” Leakes explained. “And I said, ‘No, I really don’t want to do that.’ This is Black Lives Matter and I don’t want to do that.”
“There was a lot of unfair treatment happening to me,” Leakes later added. “During a period of years, things were happening. For instance, let me give you an example. We are a cast of Black women and we have a white woman on our show. She doesn’t travel, we travel. She doesn’t shoot, we shoot. There was a lot of different treatment happening on the show and I was more of the outspoken one, the one that was in the front.”
And Leakes alleged that Bravo never meaningfully addressed her concerns: “You would think that someone there would have said, ‘Let’s pick up the phone and talk to her and see what’s happening.’ They never picked up the phone. No one ever wanted to speak to me.”
It’s far from the first time Leakes has called out Bravo and Cohen for allegedly mistreating her.
“They ALWAYS manipulating black women to say negative things about each other while they sit and enjoy us tearing each other down,” she tweeted in 2020, amid a dispute that began when Wendy Williams trashed Leakes on the Bravo aftershow Watch What Happens Live.
“The racist is the master manipulator,” Leakes added at the time, seemingly referring to WWHL host Andy Cohen. “They using me for ratings like they have always done.”
The Daily Beast has reached out to Bravo and Cohen for comment.
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