NeNe Leakes is one of the Real Housewives’ most recognizable faces. Her dozens of memorable lines from Real Housewives of Atlanta have launched a thousand memes and GIFs, making her of the most widely disseminated presences on social media and spawning classic memes like “So nasty and so rude,” or “Is your wig squeezing your brain too tight, heifer?” My personal favorite, “It’s getting weird,” has also made a comeback recently, showing up more frequently on Twitter and on TikTok.
But despite Leakes’s prolific career as one of Bravo’s primary figureheads, she has exited the Real Housewives of Atlanta, following years of heated contract negotiations between Leakes and the network. Earlier this month, she announced her departure, claiming that she and Bravo could not come to an agreement. She admitted in a Youtube video on her personal channel that the decision to quit was “hard,” but that she was still “so happy that I can say that I was a part of a genre that opened up doors for Black ensemble reality shows to step up and be a part of what we now love so much—reality TV.”
It was, however, immediately clear that there was more to the story than a simple falling out over contract negotiations. On Instagram, Leakes posted footage that compared her behavior to that of other Housewives, like Teresa Giudice, whose Bravo career survived even after she physically assaulted Andy Cohen at a Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion in 2010. (Giudice has since gone on to allegedly become one of Bravo’s highest-paid stars.) The point she was making seems clear: As Leakes sees it, she is held to a higher standard than other Real Housewives stars, and this is not the first time that Leakes and the network have allegedly fallen out. After Season 11, the network and Leakes were similarly locked in negotiations, which led to her absence for a significant chunk of the following season.
The firestorm surrounding Leakes only got worse last week, when Wendy Williams made her somewhat “triumphant” return back to daytime television after a seven-month hiatus. During her “Hot Topics” segment, Williams claimed that she had caught up on several episodes—55, to be exact—of RHOA, and noted that Leakes was in none of them. “They really did a good job of closing in the ranks and being entertaining.” She then claimed that Leakes “likes attention,” and will eventually be back to the show, because a spin-off show starring Leakes alone would be “boring as hell.”
Then, while doing the press rounds for her comeback, Williams appeared on Watch What Happens Live! on Sunday. This is when it all exploded.
Andy Cohen—whose primary career goal seems to be meddling in the lives of women—asked Wendy Williams a question he shouldn’t have: “What’s your take on NeNe announcing she’s leaving [Real Housewives of Atlanta]? And are the two of you still close buddies?” Williams, being the daytime television maven of mess and gossip, was quick to respond. She told Cohen that the two are friends, and reiterated what she’d said on her own show: She doesn’t believe Leakes is finished with the Real Housewives. She also claimed that “NeNe likes attention, dramatic attention,” adding, “I don’t know what NeNe is going to do for money... I’m not trying to count coins.”
Almost immediately, Leakes tweeted:
She followed this up by tweeting, “Keep trying me sir and imma let the world know who you really are.” She later added another tweet, still seemingly talking about Wendy Williams and Andy Cohen:
Afterward, she asked her followers to send her their “best discrimination attorneys’ info,” and compared her contract to those of other longtime Real Housewives, like Kyle Richards, Ramona Singer, or Teresa Giudice. “My white counterparts were elevated and given full season episodes EVERY season. Each season I was given less and less. Don’t ask me, @ Andy and @ Bravo and ask them why.”
Besides accusing Bravo of “manipulating black women to say negative things about each other while they sit and enjoy us tearing each other down,” Leakes also claimed on Twitter that she was forced out of the show. In response to a fan, she tweeted: “They don’t think I deserve to work at all in any capacity.”
Representatives for Leakes, Cohen, and Bravo did not immediately respond to requests for comment. This post will be updated if, or when, they do.
Update, 2:20 p.m. EST: A spokesperson for Bravo declined to comment when reached by Jezebel.