Originally posted Sunday, November 3, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Only a handful of cable reality shows have been around longer than “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” including the original Orange County version (2006), “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” (2007), “Say Yes to the Dress (2007) and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” (2007).
Its staying power has a lot do with its strong cast of characters, most of whom are still at it season 12 debuting November 3 including NeNe Leakes, Cynthia Bailey, Porsha Williams and Kandi Burruss. But a key return is Kenya Moore, a woman who seems to have been born into this genre long before it even existed. She was gone for a year but is back with a shaky marriage and a new kid.
Last week, I caught up with Bailey, who enters her 10th season on the show. She discussed where she is in her life, how things are going with her current West Coast-based broadcaster beau Mike Hill and how she feels about Kenya and NeNe.
Her marriage with Mike will likely happen in 2020 and there’s no doubt “RHOA” will be there like it was with her first marriage.
On 10 years being on “RHOA”: “I sometimes struggle to remember when I wasn’t part of the show. Sometimes it feels like, ‘How did this all happen?’ It’s crazy how fast reality TV times moves. We film for five months. But even during the other months, we’re always promoting the show. It never really ends.”
On using ‘RHOA” to promote herself: “I’ve always been ambitious long before the show. I was successful before the show. But I try to use the platform every year to introduce something. I started my Bailey Modeling Agency. I have sunglasses. I have my Seagram’s Peach Bellini. It’s been mutually beneficial.”
On her engagement: “That’s no secret. I’m very public about my relationship. For the first time in a long time I’m happy. I’m living in my truth. It feels great.”
Being bi-coastal: “When his season is slow, he’s in Atlanta. When my season is slow, I’m in L.A. I’m a boss. I can run my businesses where-ever I am. When we’re apart, we talk via FaceTime at least five times a day. We also text and talk. I’ve learned that you need to communicate consistently. We’re already checking in, updating.”
Lessons from her first marriage: She was married to Peter Thomas for about six years. They had communication and trust issues that permeated the tensions we saw on the show. Even the marriage was over, Thomas still held a candle for her but it wasn’t a good fit in the end for Cynthia. “I learned a lot from my previous marriage,” she said. “I want to take those lessons into my new marriage. I have to live in my truth and not compromise myself for anyone. I also learned about transparency. You just want to be transparent with who you’re with. I don’t want to be blindsided by things. I want to be comfortable. I want to be on the same page.”
Good things about Mike Hill: “We don’t agree on everything but he’s rational. He’s fair. He’s a good communicator. He wants resolution. He wants peace. We want a lot of the same things. There is real compatibility.”
On NeNe: She sighed. “Everyone is who they are. All NeNe can be is be NeNe. We can be better versions of ourselves for each other but I can’t change her. Here’s the kicker: it’s your choice to surround yourself with drama or not. And if you have to be there, it’s your choice to buy into the drama or get out of it and move on. If NeNe and I worked at a bank, we’d have to figure out a way to co exist. Maybe make sure our teller booths aren’t next to each other.”
Being 52: “I’m at peace with who I am. I accept people for who they are. I’m not trying to change anybody. It’s my choice how I want to deal with you.”
Bringing Kenya back: “It’s going to change dynamics in a big way. My relationship with her is completely different from my relationship with NeNe. One has nothing to do with the other. I’m so glad Kenya’s back on the show despite some of the things she’s going through in her marriage. She’s an amazing mom with Brooklyn. I missed her when Kenya wasn’t on the show. We will bump heads this season but we have conversations. We choose to make it a drama or not. I’m not a grudge holder. Life is too short!”
Also, listen to my podcast with “RHOA” castmate Eva Marcille:
“The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” 12th season debut at 8 p.m. Sunday on Bravo
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