‘Real Housewife’ Cynthia Bailey Talks Nene Friendship, Fashion & Battling Cattyness

Movies & TV

Cynthia Bailey might be new to Real Housewives of Atlanta, but you’ve likely seen her face before. With a modeling career that spans over 20 years, she’s appeared on the cover of Essence twice and graced the pages of top magazines like Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Vanity Fair and more. She’s also graced runways around the world and appeared in several high-end ads for brands like Saks Fifth Avenue, Talbots, Lord & Taylor as well as commercials and a film entitled, Without You I’m Nothing. Hate it or love it, Bailey has a resume to die for, but these days she prefers a more laidback approach to life.

It’s exactly why she was added to RHOA. Not everyone has to yell and scream to get the spotlight. Don’t sleep on the quiet storms. VIBE got the golden brown beauty to open up about conflict on the show, being a commitment-phobe and a future children’s book collaboration with her 11-year-old daughter. ⎯Starrene Rhett

VIBE: Nene had her tiff with Dwight but there’s gotta be more, what’s going down for the rest of the season?

Cynthia Bailey: A lot! If you’ve enjoyed everything up until this point I feel like we’re just getting started. There’s a lot of internal drama. A lot of women this season show more of their internal side like their family, their children.

You mentioned in an interview with TV Guide that you sometimes felt like you were being set up by producers in certain situations, like, when you meet up with the women for lunch or drinks. Can you elaborate on that?

[Laughs]. There’s six of us and everyone has their own personality, their own drama, and you just never know what you’re gonna get and we never know when we go into scenes. I may have an idea of what we’re going to talk about but I still don’t know what’s going to happen and generally, whatever the plan is it just isn’t complete somehow, that’s just the way it works. So I always feel like, let me go to this place mentally, I’m not in the mood to argue if someone says something insensitive, I’m gonna take the high road, I’m not gonna go off or go in so I feel like I’m always psyching myself up. It’s like a defense and then when you go through with it it’s like, ‘Oh, okay. That was great. I thought you were gonna come from me.’ It’s like grown women slash high school kind of stuff. For the most part, everyone is really nice but sometimes when drama gets going, you know if someone is saying something then you have to deal with them lashing out, like, “Why did you say this?” It’s a lot of muscle work but you just want to resolve. I try to be rational and resolve situations. I’m not trying to fight anybody or anything.

It’s funny you mention that because Peter is amusing to watch. He’s the rowdy one out of the two of you.

[Laughs]. Yeah. I’m the good guy and he’s the bad guy, which makes us the ultimate odd couple. Me and Peter are like two planets that never were supposed to collide but we’re together and like in the Mother’s Day brunch scene, I specifically said to him, off camera actually, “Nene is going through her stuff; it’s a sensitive situation so don’t bring it up.” He’s like, “It’s not even my business, why would I bring it up?” And sure enough he brings it up and I’m like, “Oh my God, everything was going perfect until he had to open his big mouth and say that.” And I was mortified because she’s really my only friend-friend on the show and beyond the show. We’re friends in real life, too, so you never really want conflict with Nene generally [laughs]. It’s never a good idea. If you’re not gonna be friends with her you better be cool with her [laughs].

Talk about your relationship with Nene. Were you friends before the show?

She’s the only one that I met before I met everyone else. And I thought⎯this came up a lot during the audition process⎯they would ask me who I thought I would connect with and get a long with and I thought it was Kandi because I think she’s really sweet and down to earth like myself. She’s very laidback. But that didn’t end up happening. I met Nene and we didn’t really click right away, and then we met another time and it was alright, and we met another time and we had the best time and then from that point on we ended up being really, really tight. So the surprise to me was that I ended up connecting with her and Kandi ended up being a little more standoffish and harder to get to know. I have a great relationship with her now even though I’m more friends with Nene.

You and Nene seem to balance each other out.

Yeah. It’s interesting because I knew that when she met Peter they were either going to love each other or they were going to kill each other. And they kind of go up and down the whole season. She’s very opinionated and loud when she wants to be and so is my husband and it’s interesting. I’m a Pisces, I’m the rationale of the whole thing. I’m kind of like peace and love, lets sit in a circle, kumbaya let’s all get along and Nene is definitely a lot bigger in everything so I think I’m a nice balance for her because she’ll be like, “So and so said this. I think I’m gonna go over there and say this this and that,” and I’m like girl don’t let her take your power, think about it for an hour and make a rational decision but I think you’re giving a lot up to take that approach and that’s good for her because I think she feels like she’s been doing it for three seasons and I’m younger and new to the show so she has to grow. Her character has to grow on the show and I think she gets that.

Phaedra seems to be hating on you a lot. What’s up with that?