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This Reality TV Icon Says She's Being "Blacklisted" and "Silenced"

NeNe Leakes starred on The Real Housewives of Atlanta for 10 seasons.

She's no longer on TV every week, but fans haven't heard the last of NeNe Leakes. In April, former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Leakes filed a lawsuit against the companies that produce and distribute the show, claiming that she experienced a work environment where "racially insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated—if not encouraged." But while Leakes' lawsuit makes her thoughts on the matter clear, she spoke out further in a new interview with TMZ in which she claimed she was "blacklisted" and "silenced". She also addressed rumors that the lawsuit had to do with her not getting her own show. Read on to find out more.

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Leakes claims Real Housewives was a discriminatory work environment.

NeNe Leakes, Sheree Whitfield, Lisa Wu, Kandi Burruss, and Kim Zolciak at Bravo's 2010 Upfront Party
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Leakes' lawsuit, which was filed on April 20, is against Bravo, NBCUniversal, production companies True Entertainment and Truly Original, and executive producer Andy Cohen. The lawsuit claims that the companies did not take proper action against "racially insensitive and inappropriate behavior" that Leakes complained to executives about during her time on Real Housewives.

Further, the lawsuit claims that Leakes was given a smaller role during her last season on the show, particularly in episodes that addressed the Black Lives Matter movement.

"As the Black Lives Matter movement swept our nation, Mrs. Leakes—Bravo's historically most successful Black female talent—should have been embraced by NBC, Bravo, and True," the lawsuit explains, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. "Instead, NBC, Bravo, and True forced her out of the 'house she built,' denying her a regular role."

Best Life has reached out to the defendants for comment but has not received a response.

She made claims about one cast member in particular.

Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes at the Ultimate Women's Expo in 2021
Robin L Marshall/Getty Images

The lawsuit claims that racially offensive comments came from former RHOA star Kim Zolciak-Biermann, who is not named as a defendant.

"From the day the series began filming, NeNe was the target of systemic racism from co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann, which was tolerated by Bravo executive producer Andy Cohen and other executives," Leakes' lawyer David deRubertis said in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Best Life has reached out to Zolciak-Biermann for comment, but has not received a response.

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She claims that she was "blacklisted."

Leakes was interviewed by TMZ while at LAX airport on May 2, and she shared more about why she filed the lawsuit.

"The goals are to stop discrimination against Black women," she said. Asked why now, she responded, "I felt like it was the right time a couple years ago, a few years ago. But I was constantly being retaliated against, being blacklisted, not able to work, being silenced, and so, you know, it was difficult to do."

She did not go into details about who was allegedly blacklisting her and how, but she said, "When … you're working and sought after and suddenly you're not working, you're being blacklisted. I haven't caused any problems on any sets. Everybody I've ever worked with I've had a good working relationship with except for this group of people."

In addition to starring on RHOA, Leakes has had roles as an actor on The New Normal and Glee, amongst other projects.

She addressed a rumor about the lawsuit.

NeNe Leakes at the Entertainment Weekly Pre-Emmy Party in 2017
DFree / Shutterstock

Leakes was also asked about rumors that the lawsuit had to do with her not getting her own spinoff show.

"That is so small. That is so ridiculous," she responded. "It doesn't make any sense. We're talking about discrimination, we're not talking about a show. It has nothing to do with having a temper tantrum and wanting a show. I never wanted my own show. I had many opportunities to have one … It's discrimination. That's just what it is."

She hoped it wouldn't come to this.

The lawsuit isn't the first time Leakes has made claims of discrimination centered on RHOA. In December 2020, she asked that viewers boycott the show and claimed that, as a Black women on Real Housewives, she was treated unfairly compared to white stars in the franchise.

In October of the same year, Leakes was interviewed on The Tamron Hall Show about her decision to leave RHOA amid claims of discrimination. She said she was invited to be in only six episodes instead of the whole season of "18 to 23" episodes but that her salary wouldn't be reduced. Tamron Hall asked if she knew why the show would try to cut down on her screentime and Leakes said, "That's something I can't speak on." She was also asked if she would be taking legal action, and she said, "I hope that we don't have to go to that extent."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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