Nene

V Exclusive: Nene Leakes Talks 'Housewives,' Says Reality TV Has ‘Gone Way Too Far’

Everyone knows Nene. After five seasons, the Real Housewives Of Atlanta star is a television OG, but unlike many reality focal points the HBIC hasn’t been held back by the stigma. Instead, she’s slowly taking over Hollywood, landing roles on Glee and the upcoming NBC comedy The New Normal, which premieres this fall. VIBE recently chatted with Nene about that role for an upcoming issue, during which we also asked about her future on Housewives and the growing concerns over reality television’s violence (see: our June/July cover story).

VIBE: Are you still shooting the next Real Housewives of Atlanta?
Nene Leakes: I am currently shooting. We’ve been shooting for about three weeks. We have a long way to go. Everybody wasn’t expecting me to come back for this season. It was really a hard decision for me to even think of coming back because I was so tired of the whole reality thing. And not just being tired of it—I had other things in the works. But I think it’s a good idea that I’ve come back for season 5. I would love to just walk away, but when I sit down and talk with my team, it’s not… If you can do it all, then just do it all. Why leave the show when you can still do the show and you can still do The New Normal? So we’re going to see how doing everything works. We’ll see what happens. We’re taking a little bit of a chance.

You seemed a little calmer in the most recent season of Housewives. Was that just personal growth?
I really think it is. We’re looking at our fifth season—and I shot the pilot so I feel like I’m in my sixth season. When you have done it over and over and over again in the same negativity, it just wears you down. And I just feel like after a while, I just can’t do this job no more. Like, seriously? That’s how I felt sitting there at the reunion. Like, this is just too petty. Yes, I love reality TV, and I believe that you can do reality shows and have drama. You gotta have drama and entertainment, but some of the stuff has driven me insane. I do really think that it’s personal growth. It’s almost like being in a relationship and you’re like, I done taken all I can take and I can’t take no more. I sort of felt the same way with the show—I’ve taken everything I can take, I’m just tired. But I don’t know how interesting I’ll be this season. ’Cause I feel like I got boring. I gotta get some pep in my step [laughs]. We’re all sitting there and it’s all this silly, petty, who said what and I’m just sitting there and people are expecting me to really say something and I’m just thinking, what do you say. I think you almost look better when you sit there and look at ’em like they’re crazy.

Your expressions are definitely classic.
My faces are just a mess, chile. I go back and look at my face and I’m just like, Nene can you not do that. I can’t help it. People always told me for years, "Whenever you’re thinking something or you’re not in a good mood, everything about you we read it in your face. If I’m unhappy, I can tell or you’re sick." And I really can’t change my face. I actually try. They say, "put a smile on your face and you go in there and you get ‘em!" And I’m thinking, now that just ain’t gon’ work for me [laughs]. I can’t keep a smile on my face and just go in there. So my face always reads. I look at the show and I bust out laughing. I can’t believe the stuff that we do, and I really don’t know I’m doing this stuff.

I don’t know if you’ve been keeping track of Basketball Wives. Our current cover features some reality stars. What's your take on whether it’s gotten out of hand? You mentioned that we always need drama. But the physical fighting, some people have said it’s gone too far.

I don’t know if you’ve been keeping track of Basketball Wives. Our current cover features some reality stars. What's your take on whether it’s gotten out of hand? You mentioned that we always need drama. But the physical fighting, some people have said it’s gone too far.
It’s gone way too far. The truth is the truth. It has just gone too far. Too many fights, my God! I can see if there was one here or there. And I always say to people when they say something about reality, you can say whatever y’all want about reality TV, Atlanta Housewives, we don’t do that. We definitely have had our verbal fights, but never physical fights. I can’t believe the fighting and the bullying. It looks bad. It really looks bad. I don’t like when people say it affects Black women or the Black community. I think it affects all communities. I think it looks bad on women; it looks bad on everybody. It’s just so sad; it’s so crazy to me. When I look at it, I just can’t believe it. And, you know, I’m friends with Jennifer [Williams] and she’s on Basketball Wives. I can’t believe it. I almost, you know when I watch, I’m like, “How much do they paid?” [Laughs] My goodness. And then I think about—they can’t want to do too much in their careers. A good ole argument, everybody likes that every now and then to tune into, but you couldn’t be trying to have too much in your career because that stuff, it don’t work. You can’t represent a product and be that way. That just doesn’t work. That’s one of the reasons when I’m sitting on my show, I’m thinking I’m just tired. Because at some point this can’t even help my future. You know, you would want to think that it would help your future.

Evelyn Lozada did apologize for some of her actions on the show. So it seems like there's some growth happening.
I don’t know if apologizing is going to work. Now, apologizing is always a great thing to do. You need to say I’m sorry or whatever the case, but I don’t know how good that’s gon’ work because in this case, it’s sort of like the damage is already done. It’s great to go back and say, "I’m sorry and I learned from the mistake." But the damage is done and people saw it. They saw it. It’s a matter of if the viewers will forgive you. TV is tricky. You can do some stuff and people will tune out and never tune back in. It’s sort of like putting a bad taste in somebody’s mouth. Some people may not ever tune in again. And then there’s some people that will tune in just to tune in and see what’s gon’ happen. But still, you could’ve damaged your career. The person that was looking at you to do something, they may not want to use you now. I can’t take it.

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Singers Ronald Isley (L) and Kim Johnson perform at the "18th Annual Soul Train Music Awards" at the Scottish Rite Auditorium on March 20, 2004 in Los Angeles, California.
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Music Sermon: The Soul Train Awards Been Lit, We're Just Late To The Party

Black Entertainment's oldest televised awards show has been patiently waiting for us to come back.

As I was watching the 2019 BET Awards, at some point around trying to decipher the difference between DaBaby and Lil Baby, I said – not for the first year – “I’m not the BET Awards demo anymore.” BET’s flagship awards’ aspiration to cover every segment of Black entertainment has always stretched it a little thin; current rap and R&B artists, plus legends, plus some gospel, plus a few TV, movie and sports moments, and some social good and politics crowd a run-of-show. But in the last several years – probably due to me moving solidly into the Urban Adult Contemporary demo – watching the BET Awards has been comprised mostly of me tweeting “Who is this child?” while waiting to see maybe two performances and a tribute. But then, in sweet November, BET gives me my entire two-step life with the Soul Train Awards, where I know (almost) every artist and live for every performance and I can’t even tell you who took an award home because that’s not even the point. The Soul Train Awards is family reunion time: an opportunity for your respected faves get their props and a platform for soulful new school artists who don’t get mainstream airplay. It’s a night to dance and sing along in your living room. Ain’t no stuntin’, no pretense, no cappin’ (did I use that right?). It’s just a good ass time. So why did it take us so long to embrace it again?

BET has owned the legacy awards show since 2009, but for years the Soul Train Awards seemed a bit forgotten. The timeline wasn’t joining forces to watch the Tom Joyner Cruise Live (Side note: Tom Joyner should ABSOLUTELY do the Tom Joyner Cruise Live). Over the last four years, however, an aging millennial demographic combined with a drive of ‘90s nostalgia and renewed demand for straight up and down soul music has shined a light on the awards broadcast. Since 2015, the BET ecosystem has also thrown more support behind the show, including moving it from a Centric/BETHer-branded property to a BET proper event and giving it the same Viacom-wide simulcast as the BET Awards. Production values, talent bookings, and show elements keep rising, and the TL is paying attention. This Sunday, the Soul Train Awards will air live for the first time (the show is usually taped a week or two in advance), with Black America’s favorite on and off-screen besties Tisha Cambell and Tichina Arnold hosting for the second year.

It’s by grace, though, that the Soul Train Awards is even still here for us to enjoy. The show that launched as the only televised Black entertainment awards ceremony started fading during Black music’s growing mainstream dominance, and then was lost in the shadow of the bigger and splashier BET Awards. Superstar artists stopped attending, because teams no doubt felt like their presence wouldn’t move the needle on sales, and it became the Old Heads Awards. Quietly, though, the Soul Train Awards has been a ratings driver for BET since the network acquired the show; the rest of us (including talent) are just finally catching up. And we should be ashamed it took so long! This specific celebration of Black entertainment is as important now as it was when launched over 30 years ago — almost more so — for the very reason that it’s not just a show packed with hottest, newest, latest. But to appreciate the show’s legacy and staying power, we should look back at its history.

In 1987, Soul Train founder Don Cornelius decided it was time to elevate his 20-plus-year-old platform to another level. At the time, the major entertainment awards weren’t properly acknowledging Black artists. The handful that had reached massive pop success – Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Prince and Whitney Houston – were recognized and honored.

But in the 80s, the soul and R&B world was still vast and wide.

Cornelius decided it was time to create a night of celebration and excellence which, like Soul Train itself, was created for us, by us. He insisted at the time, “Black music is too big and too powerful not to have its own awards show. It’s overdue.” The Soul Train Awards was born.

Not only did Cornelius want to create a space for our artists who were overlooked by award shows like the Grammys and the AMAs, but also an awards system that didn’t hang on politics, or follow the same long-time criticisms of Grammy voting; selections by a group of people who just vote on the names they know. The voting block for the Soul Train Awards was made up of black retailers, radio programmers and artists themselves, to grant the prized Soul Train trophy design based on African sculpture. But the Soul Train Awards weren’t even meant to be about the awards; they were about highlighting our talent – current and established – featuring special legacy honors, originating the concept of tributes via performances instead of just film packages, and putting together super-performances of key artists across genres. This was our showcase.

For the first eight years of the show, the hosting panel was a mix of Dionne Warwick, Luther Vandross, and Patti Labelle, and our biggest and best showed up in their award finery ready to celebrate and be celebrated. When the Grammys weren’t yet making room for hip-hop, Don gave it a little light (not a whole lot, but a little), and the Soul Train Awards honored Black entertainment across the board, not just music.

In fact, until 1994, the Soul Train Awards were the only televised Black entertainment awards. The Source Awards debuted as the first hip-hop awards show in 1994, The NAACP Image Awards were first televised in 1995, and that same year the female-artist heavy landscape prompted the creation of Soul Train’s Lady of Soul Awards. For the first several years, the Black entertainment community turned out in numbers for their long-awaited party. The first year, Black luminaries from Magic Johnson to Miles Davis to Stevie Wonder to Don King to Run DMC to Isaac Hayes were in the building. In 1990, Michael Jackson snubbed the Grammys, but showed up at Soul Train. Whitney Houston was even famously booed at the Soul Train Awards because the crowd felt she was too pop, and this was not a pop space. This was a forum for soul.

But like many of our most important early platforms for Black culture, progress eventually rendered almost of these celebrations obsolete. As Black music crossed over, more Black artists were being recognized by the mainstream, and Black culture became the culture, the entire Soul Train brand felt outdated and unnecessary. By 2000, the awards were in a bit of an identity crisis. After twelve years at LA’s Shrine Auditorium, the show bounced to a new location every year for the next six years. Cornelius started having trouble getting stars to commit to the awards because they were held within a month of the Grammys.

Then, in 2001, BET debuted their award show: a younger, hipper, and larger budget version of the Soul Train Awards that adopted virtually the same format, with Viacom promotional power and a dedicated channel and time slot (unlike Soul Train’s syndication) to their advantage.

In 2006, Soul Train signed off after 35 years and over 1,100 episodes as the longest-running nationally syndicated TV program in America at the time. Around the same time, the syndication company for the show and the awards, Tribune Entertainment, changed hands and shut down. In 2007, the Soul Train Awards’ biggest winners of the night, like Beyoncè and John Legend, didn’t bother to show. Finally, in 2008, there were no Soul Train Awards. And had that been the end of the line for the show for good, there probably would have been very little complaints or rumblings – we’d stopped paying attention, anyway. BET seemed to have all Black excellence bases on lock with the BET Awards, the BET Honors (which debuted in February of 2008), and the BET Hip-Hop Awards (2006). But fortunately, someone at the company had the good sense not to let the Soul Train Awards die.

As part of BET on Jazz’s rebrand to Centric (now BETHer), BET acquired the Soul Train Awards and revamped the program to fully embrace its old head’ness, perfect for the channel geared towards an older demo with a soul music focus. They moved the awards from LA to Georgia (it has since moved to Vegas), changed the date to November, got Terrence Howard and Taraji Henson coming straight off of Hustle & Flow to host, and gave tributes to Charlie Wilson and the Gap Band, Chaka Khan and Motown. That’s a party.

Now, here’s the part we probably haven’t been paying attention to: since the very first year in 2009, the Soul Train Awards has been a fourth-quarter ratings hit for BET. In fact, 2009 was the award show’s highest rated broadcast ever in its history. Media and consumer trends often focus on the young, overlooking that while the 35-and-older set may not be as reactive, we’re loyal. Especially with music and entertainment (a look at any number of R&B theater tours featuring people who haven’t released an album in ages will tell you that). The cultural powers-that-be finally seem to be catching on: things that were long considered “Auntie & Uncle” territory, like Essence Festival, are hitting the hip radar. The Soul Train Awards is part of that wave. Also – and this is my personal, not data-supported, get-off-my-lawn opinion – there’s a lightness and fun with good ol’ R&B, soul and even older hip-hop that you just don’t get from the pull-your-panties to the side R&B and mumble rap of the last 10 years.

The BET Awards is now at a similar crossroads as the Soul Train Awards was in the early 00s: major talent is skipping the show, and the network is challenged to put together a cohesive program while trying to serve all demos. After two years of plunging ratings, the broadcast finally seems to have found balance again in 2019. But still, I’m not personally here for all the Lil’s, the YBNs and YGs and other letter configurations, and Babies and whatnot. I need music that works as a backdrop for brown liquor in red solo cups, please. But as viewers and fans, we also have to check ourselves on our awards show criticisms. Complaints amplify every year around the Grammys, AMAs and the like that we need to give less weight to mainstream awards and celebrate our own, ourselves, which is exactly what Don Cornelius and then Bob Johnson and team set out to do. During the BET Awards, though, there are gripes about the diversity and quality of talent, content and production. There was even a period of Black Twitter referring to them as the “EBT Awards.” Criticism is often valid, but straight disdain isn’t. Also every year, there are cries about how we need more and different awards shows. Meanwhile, Soul Train’s been right there, chillin’, with your old school faves and your burgeoning soul stars. I’m ok with knowing I’m not the right in the pocket of the BET Awards demo anymore, but that means I’m going to support the Soul Train Awards with all my Auntie might because Black music and culture needs the intergenerational love and community that the Soul Train Awards represent.

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Keyshia Cole Announces Talk Show On Relationships And More

Three months after welcoming a new baby, Keyshia Cole is getting back to work. Cole has a new talk show premiering on Fox Soul, she announced via social media Thursday (Nov. 14).

One on One with Keyshia Cole will cover “relationships, love and lack thereof” in addition to tackling social media and social topics. Nick Cannon and Cole’s boyfriend, Nikko Hale, will be the first guests on her show, which premieres on Friday at 10 p.m. EST via Fox SOUL.

 

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Hey guys CHECK ME OUT TOMORROW!!! OMG IM SOOOO EXCITED TO TRY SOMETHING NEW!!! ONE ON ONE WITH KEYSHIA COLE TOMORROW 7pm pst / 10pm est. Download app: FOX SOUL or go to WWW.FOXSOUL.TV

A post shared by Keyshia Cole (@keyshiacole) on Nov 14, 2019 at 3:48pm PST

Besides prepping a new talk show, the Bay Area native has been out promoting her forthcoming reality show premiering on BET next Tuesday (Nov. 18). Cole, 38, and Hale, 24, also stopped by Cannon’s morning show on LA’s Power 106.1 earlier in the week. During their chat, Cannon brought up the pair’s age difference and made mention to his marriage to Mariah Carey before referring to Cole as Hale's “elder.”

See how Cole responded in the video below.

 

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Actress and comedian Mo'Nique poses for a photo on set of E! News' show 'Daily Pop.'
Aaron Poole/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Mo'Nique Files Lawsuit Against Netflix For Pay Discrimination

Update: 6:09 PM ET (November 13) - Netflix has issued the following statement in response to Mo’Nique’s allegations:

"We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously. We believe our opening offer to Mo'Nique was fair -- which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”

Read the original story below.

Mo'Nique is taking Netflix to court and suing them for pay discrimination. The comedienne took to her Instagram account to personally share the news and why she's decided to move forward with her decision.

"Hey, My Loves," she begins her Instagram post. "I can confirm that today I filed a pay discrimination lawsuit against Netflix.

"I had a choice to make: I could accept what I felt was pay discrimination or I could stand up for those who came before me and those who will come after me," she continues. "I choose to stand up. I don't have any further comment at this time, but I appreciate all of your support and love."

In January 2018, the former late-night show host asked that her fans and the black community boycott the streaming platform after they allegedly lowballed her for a potential comedy special. "I'm asking that you boycott Netflix for color bias and gender bias," she shared in an Instagram video post. "I was offered a $500,000 deal last week to do a comedy special. However, Amy Schumer was offered $11 million, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, $20 million. Then Amy Schumer went back and renegotiated 2 more million dollars because she said, ‘I shouldn’t get what the men are getting, they’re legends. However, I should get more’ and Netflix agreed."

Mo'Nique went on to add that when she and her team asked Netflix to explain the difference between her and Schumer, Netflix allegedly believed Mo'Nique's proposed pay reflected how much revenue the Academy Award-winning actress would bring in, despite being a comic legend.

Since her call-to-action last year, the entertainer has sat with The Breakfast Club after being dubbed "Donkey of the Day" and has done a number of interviews discussing her "blackballing" issues with Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels, and Tyler Perry. In February, she and Steve Harvey had a passionate discussion on his talk show about how black entertainers maneuver in Hollywood, integrity, and Mo'Nique's fight for equality.

"Each one of you said to me, 'Mo'Nique you're not wrong,' and when I heard you go on the air and you said that my sister done burned too many bridges and there's nothing I can do for her now," she said. "Steve, do you know how hurt I was?"

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