NeNe Leakes has never been one to hold back. But now, she's really not holding back.
"It's been a lot of things that have been unfair throughout this entire season," the Real Housewives of Atlanta star tells ET of season 12. "The rules don't apply to everyone, in my opinion. The rules are very one-sided. And, once again, I feel like, if I’m doing something, there’s a much brighter light shined on it; and they do much worser things to each other. And it’s like, ‘OK, OK. I’m sorry. OK, sorry. Sorry.’ But with me? It has to be bigger than life. So, when the reunion does happen -- believe you me -- I will be walking in there, OK, with guns blazing. Trust."
"They better tie their wigs down," she adds. "I’m telling you, 'cause I’m coming."
NeNe has found herself facing off with the majority of her co-stars this season on RHOA, most notably Kenya Moore. Viewers will see at least one more explosive face-off between the two before season's end. NeNe puts the blame for the blow-up, which goes down at Kandi Burruss' baby shower, fully on Kenya.
"You see her provoking and everything, I can’t wait for you to see it," NeNe teases. "She gets up out of her seat and walks around and stands beside me. Like, girl, you have to stop that, because somebody is going to beat you down. Like, you can’t just do that to people in heated moments and think that it’s OK. And she needs to be held accountable for doing things like that, it doesn’t make sense."
The moment in question follows NeNe and Kenya's tense argument in Greece, in which NeNe appeared to spit on Kenya. After that, though, NeNe says she was "cool" with Kenya, while Kenya wanted to keep things going. NeNe says this is a pattern with Kenya, and with some of the other women in the group.
"I was like, girl, cut it out," NeNe recalls. "And the things that I’ve heard her say was that, ‘They use my daughter, my husband, and my mother. Those are the three things you don’t use against me.’ Girl! Have you forgotten the footage that we have of you talking about everybody’s husband and marriage? From Kim Fields, to Porsha [Williams], to Phaedra [Parks], you know, to everyone! It doesn’t make sense. How dare you have the rules apply to everyone but yourself?"
"But she wanted to hold this against me and roll with it 'til the end, because I am NeNe Leakes," NeNe declares. "And when you connect your name with Nene Leakes' name, people pay attention. So -- and these girls know that. So that's why they do what they do."
NeNe alleges Kandi recently used NeNe's name for attention, too, engaging in a social media back-and-forth over some comments NeNe made on a YouTube live stream about feeling betrayed by Kandi for no reason. Kandi tells ET that's not the case, though; that she was just giving back to NeNe what NeNe handed out.
"That's why any of them do what they do, because they feel like, with NeNe’s name, it’s a rocket," NeNe says, though. "That means that I am that girl, you know that, right? I’m that girl."
NeNe says Kenya is "trying to take the seat of Kim Zolciak," NeNe's one-time friend-turned-longtime adversary on RHOA. (Today, the women are in a good place.)
"But the problem with that is, Kenya, is that Kim and I had a real friendship," NeNe notes. "We actually lived in the same neighborhood, we had a real friendship, so there were real feelings there. With you, it’s like eating cardboard, it’s dry. No, thank you!"
"You know what? I’d love to see a real battle," NeNe admits. "If there’s some real issue there, it’s OK. But when the issue is not that real, it’s like… I don’t know, I guess they call that making good TV? I don’t know. I call it making stupidness."
Even so, given the chance, NeNe says she would keep the current RHOA cast intact, minus one.
"We have a great cast right now except for one person, I think," she shares. "I think only one person on this cast doesn't seem to have carried any weight this season. And I think that’s very obvious who that person is, and I don’t think they actually sit in the cast that well."
When pushed to name names, NeNe relented that she’s talking about Eva Marcille, who missed out on the cast trip to Greece because she was pregnant.
“I don’t feel like Eva brings that much to the cast,” NeNe says. “I’m just being honest. It’s really like, when you look at a show like, everybody -- like the whole cast -- is away, and you don’t miss the person at all, it's sort of like, we didn’t even know you were here, you know? And all season, doing a lot of scenes from FaceTime, that’s been the last couple of seasons … So, If I had to change, I would change her.”
"I don’t have any harsh feelings towards her, it appears she has harsh feelings towards me," she goes on to mention. "And [she] proved it all season long, with her sitting in the car with Cynthia [Bailey] riding, rolling her eyes, having all these things to say, as if I really did something to her. Now maybe I stole her baby and I didn’t know it, who knows? Who knows? Anything happens with me, you know, everything is so elevated."
NeNe says she would swap out Eva for Kim Zolciak in a heartbeat, but notes that Kim has no interest in returning to Housewives; she has her own spinoff series, Don't Be Tardy, which is set to return to Bravo for its eighth season this year. After Kim, NeNe says she would either like to see Marlo Hampton get upped to full-time status after years as a "friend of" the cast, or see Phaedra Parks return to the fold. Phaedra exited the series after season nine, when it was revealed that she helped spread defamatory rumors about Kandi.
"Yeah, that’s kinda the bad thing about it, but still, I would like to see her come on as, like, a friend of the show," NeNe says. "Play around for a couple of episodes, because I still think there's unfinished business there. I think it is unfair for the rest of the cast to face people who they have issues with and then she doesn’t get to face who she has an issue with. So, the one time she had a real issue with somebody, all of a sudden, they have to be off the show? So, I don’t think that part is fair, and I think it’s OK for me to speak my opinion about that, Kandi, and I will continue to do so.”
As for the unfinished business of this season, NeNe predicts the reunion will be "a pretty good one." Production on the special is delayed due to the near-worldwide shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. NeNe just hopes it's not delayed too long; she fears time may heal too many wounds!
"I worry that the same energy won’t be there, you know what I'm saying? Only because time heals, and people get over stuff," she notes. "So, that’s one of my fears."
NeNe says she's been paying attention to her co-stars' social media to see who's aligning with who, who's fallen out, and who might be plotting more attacks on her.
"They all try to join together to form some sort of alliance to push me out," she says. "Now, how do you push me out the show that I am the foundation of? That doesn’t even make sense to me. You can't push me out of my own show. Like, when I get ready to leave this show, it’s gonna be on my own will."
"They weren’t even here when this show started," she adds. "They weren’t even here when we were pitching the show. But how dare you try to join forces and say, let’s not film with her. Girl, you wouldn’t even be on this show if it wasn’t for 'her.'"
“Even if I left, I would really love to see what they would do,” NeNe says. “I can tell you right now they would turn on each other like it's nothing. They would turn. What else are they gonna do?”
"I’ve read stuff where they’ve said, like, some of the OGs are being pushed out, they’re looking for much younger women," she adds. "I said, you must be looking under a rock, ‘cause I can sit by any of these girls and they can’t hold a match to me when it comes down to age, OK? ‘Cause a lot of them have a lot of dark bags under their eyes to be so young."
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If you anything like me, getting to the money is what you do and love to do. My home is actually like a hotel to me because I’m so in & out. Laying here in my bed, i have thought of how much money I’m missing out on. Then i thought🤔 my health is my wealth! Money can’t buy that! There’s this thing out called Coronavirus that’s changing lives and not in such a good way. It’s important that you stay home where your safe. Continue to wash your hands, wipe counters, mop common traffic areas of your home and stay hydrated with water. WE IN THIS TOGETHER! #germs #stayhome #virus #wegotthis #covid19 #iwannagooutsideandplay
ET spoke with NeNe via video chat from her home in Atlanta, where she's currently isolating with her husband, Gregg, and son, Brentt, amid the pandemic. NeNe says her family is being especially cautious of social-distancing rules due to their preexisting health conditions; NeNe has had lung problems in the past, while Gregg is in remission from cancer. NeNe is helping to get the word out about how the American Cancer Society is providing resources to cancer patients during this unforeseen time, including a 24/7 helpline. For more information and to donate, visit cancer.org.
"Please stay safe and stay home," NeNe says to the fans. "Wash your hands and take all those precautions. If you read as much as I do, it is very serious. I’m totally freaked out. So, I would hope that you guys would be safe, so you can see the reunion not have to be laying in bed sick."
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.