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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Kerry Washington To Star In And Produce 'American Son' Netflix Adaptation

Kerry Washington's Broadway banger, American Son, will be making its on-screen debut with Netflix.

Steven Pasquale (The Good Wife), Jeremy Jordan (Supergirl), Eugene Lee (A Soldier’s Play) and Washington will be reprising their groundbreaking roles from the thought-provoking Broadway production. Kenny Leon, who served as the play's original director, will be directing the picture and producing the film alongside the former Scandal actress.

The 41-year-old made the announcement on Monday night (Jan. 21) while appearing on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, where she gushed over her role as Kendra and the play's exploration into an interracial families search for their missing son in a Florida police station.

I love you @jimmyfallon 😍 thanks for letting me come on @FallonTonight and share this thrilling news about #AmericanSonPlay 😍😍😍😍 https://t.co/5sk97I4Co6

— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) January 22, 2019

Netflix’s Vice President of Original Content Cindy Holland said in a statement, “We are honored to work with Kerry Washington, [director] Kenny Leon, [writer] Christopher Demos-Brown and the entire cast to bring this story from the Broadway stage to our members around the world.”

The American Son production will come to a close this Sunday (Jan. 27) after a two month running at the Booth Theatre beginning in Nov. 2018. Watch Kerry Washington gush over American Son below.

 

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Gina Rodriguez Tearfully Addresses Anti-Black Allegations

Gina Rodriguez sparked controversy on social media in Nov. 2018, after she made questionable claims about the racial pay gap in the workplace. During a panel discussion on Neta Porter's "The Television Debate" with Gabrielle Union, Ellen Pompeo, and more, the actress falsely claimed that black women were paid more than Latina and Asian women. Nearly two months after the backlash, Rodriguez sat down with Sway in the Morning on Jan. 22, to explain her previous statements and debunk the notion that she is anti-black.

"I wasn’t speaking about my industry," she said of her previous comments about the racial pay gap. "I always find it difficult to  talk about equal pay as a woman who makes a substantial amount of money. As somebody who came from poverty to now the amount of money I get paid, it doesn’t feel right that I’m the one talking about it because i’m just so damn grateful…"

The Jane the Virgin actress stated that she was devastated by the tweets from the black community that claimed she was anti-black because she felt deeply connected to the racial group growing up. "What I was saying is that when we talk about equal pay we have to talk about intersectionality because we all must rise. And so, the backlash was devastating to say the least because the black community was the only community I looked towards," she continued. "Growing up, we didn’t have many Latino shows and the black community made me feel like I was seen. So to get ‘anti-black’ is saying that I’m anti-family. My father is dark-skinned. He’s Afro-latino. And my cousins are. And Puerto Ricans are African, Taino, and Spaniard blood…"

She also suggested that the backlash was fueled by click-bait. "I know my heart. I know what I meant. And I really wish we lived in a culture that wasn’t click-bait because I’ve never said anything controversial about anybody and far would I ever," she added. "The black community is my community. As Latinos, we have black Latinos. That is what we are. I think when I talk about Latino advocacy they think I mean people only my skin color. And little do they know that I’m very aware of what my culture is… It was a really really dark time for me."

Check out Rodriguez's full comments on the subject at the 12:34-mark in the video above.

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Taraji P. Henson Criticized For Comparing R. Kelly And Harvey Weinstein

Taraji P. Henson is under fire after she appeared to compare the backlash and response surrounding the sexual abuse allegations against R. Kelly and Harvey Weinstein. Henson seemed to question why Kelly was being slammed more than Weinstein, and Twitter users were not happy about her argument to say the least.

Henson shared her thoughts on her Instagram Stories on Tuesday (Jan. 22). She shared a series of videos, first of her looking up the hashtag and fan pages under "Mute R. Kelly." To no surprise, she found a handful of pages advocating for the complete dismissal of R. Kelly.

I love me some Taraji but GIIIIIIRRRRRLLLLLLAAAAAAAA. Make it make sense. pic.twitter.com/qBtYuwpio0

— sie (@NOPussBoys_) January 22, 2019

She then searched for similar tags and pages for Weinstein, but was unsuccessful. She also looked up pages under his full name to no avail. Henson then shared an emoji along with a simple "hmmm." The message suggested that she was confused as to why Weinstein and Kelly – both of whom have been accused of sexually abusing dozens of women through their career – were not receiving the same backlash. It appeared her argument regarding the discrepancy might have something to do with race.

Twitter users were not persuaded by Henson's thesis however. Surviving R. Kelly show-runner, dream hampton promptly responded to Henson's story, saying, "no idea why Taraji Henson wouldn't know that there are not one, but two projects abt Harvey Weinstein. But this is an oft-invoked deflection. While I care abt the Hollywood stars Weinstein abused, I care more abt Asante, Kitty, Jerhona, Lisette, Azriel & Joy & others, even more." Others criticized the actress for not acknowledging the black women and girls who had allegedly been abused by Kelly throughout the years.

While there may not be pages about muting Weinstein on Instagram, the Hollywood mogul is facing consequences for his heinous actions. Weinstein was forced to step down from his company, and he was arrested in May 2018 and charged with "rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women." He later made bail but was mandated to surrender his passport and wear an ankle monitor.

Check out the Twitter reactions to Taraji P. Henson's comments below.

No idea why Taraji Henson wouldn't know that there are not one, but two projects abt Harvey Weinstein. But this is an oft-invoked deflection. While I care abt the Hollywood stars Weinstein abused, I care more abt Asante, Kitty, Jerhona, Lisette, Azriel & Joy & others, even more.

— dream hampton (@dreamhampton) January 22, 2019

All of us watching Taraji’s instastory pic.twitter.com/VbcmMY3t7U

— Kayla Marie (@Maria_Giesela) January 22, 2019

TARAJI IS SO EMBARRASSING I HATE HER pic.twitter.com/tnm4HcMeAP

— fads (@azuIair) January 22, 2019

Yall.....Taraji P Henson done lost her entire mind....I... pic.twitter.com/8CuLCy19h2

— future librarian ♏️ (@blkbravado) January 22, 2019

Harvey Weinstein has been booked, charged, etc. the purpose of #MuteRKelly is to silence his music. For him to be held accountable for his actions. I really need taraji to know better. Unbelievable.

— Krissy Brierre-Davis (@krissys_kitchen) January 22, 2019

Taraji is dumb ass bricks. She really tried to compare mute R. Kelly hashtags to Mute Harvey Weinstein! News flash, Taraji, Harvey is about to go to trial. There are people willing to testify against him. His businesses and career are DONE! R. Kelly is still out here functioning!

— Where Is Yo Scoota? Where Is It?! (@AshleyShyMiller) January 22, 2019

Taraji, why? pic.twitter.com/6a4CenaNg3

— Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) January 22, 2019

1. Why would “Mute” apply to people who aren’t in the music industry?2. Weinstein has several documentaries coming about his allegations. 3. Weinstein is also going to trial over his allegations. 4. Between Taraji and Erykah “What Men Want” is a no go. pic.twitter.com/DLzvq32VKy

— M’BlockU (@rodimusprime) January 22, 2019

I wanna have a conversation about women Taraji's/Erykah's age and their obsession with "being a man's peace/shield/sponge because society brings them down enough" but I've already hit my 1 thread a day limit.

— Mári 🇵🇷 (I'm Black. This isn't hard.) (@_ItsMarisWorld_) January 22, 2019

 

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