This was posted by Rodney Ho on AJC's Radio & TV Talk blog on Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Over six-plus years on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," Cynthia Bailey has been on a wild journey.
The model started season three a little on the shy side, latching onto bestie NeNe Leakes for dear life with her "friendship contract." She got married that first year, much to her family's consternation. Over the years, she became an active entrepreneur, starting a modeling agency , an eyewear line and a bag line.
She grew more confident and is now a deeply entrenched and well respected member of Bravo's top show "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," returning for season nine this Sunday night (November 6) at 8 p.m.
"When I started this," Bailey said in a recent interview, "I didn't imagine doing this long to be very honest with you."
But she's grappling with some bad news: she's getting divorced.
She said her personal life has come "full circle" with her husband Peter Thomas.
"We're doing a settlement agreement," she said. "We don't have children together. We're not fighting over custody. It's going to be a pretty simple divorce."
Bailey, who is turning 50 next year, said she now wants "peace. I want to be happy. I want to have fun. I think you guys will get to see that. I am definitely what you see is what you get. I'm dealing with this divorce as best as I can. I have no interest in dragging Peter through the mud or being disrespectful in regards to our marriage. A lot of great things came from our marriage. That's what I choose to focus on. You'll get to see how that plays out. Not many reality TV marriages peacefully move on."
She said she has no regrets over the marriage because Thomas brought her from New York to Atlanta, which enabled her to join "The Real Housewives."
"I'm a lover of love," Bailey said. "I packed my baby, who was eight. We moved to Atlanta. Six months later, we were on the show that just changed my world. I was very successful as a model in New York but I wasn't famous. There's a different type of celebrity that has come to me that has been really valuable in terms of building my businesses."
She said Thomas was her "biggest cheerleader. He pushed me to really be my own woman in terms of entrepreneurship."
She said the other women on the show have helped her as well. "They're mostly pretty driven and ambitious, even a little competitive," she said. "I think that's good competition. You're always inspired to keep going." Kandi Burruss, she noted, is her role model. "We respect each other's hustle," she said.
Unfortunately, she said business sometimes got in the way of their marriage.
"We're both entrepreneurs," she said. "Always busy doing our thing. Our plan was once we reached a certain point, we'd have time for each other. Unfortunately, all that time apart really just put a strain on our relationship and other issues came up. We had a plan. We just didn't make it to the finish line."
At the same time, she added wistfully, "I will always love Peter."
Bailey and Thomas, based on what we saw on the show, had communication issues over the years. Thomas would make business deals without consulting her. He opened a sports bar in Charlotte and ended up just moving there.
He had run Bar One in Grant Park for a few years but closed it in 2014 in a bit of a huff. He had been trying to open a new bar on Auburn Avenue in Old Fourth Ward but Bailey said, "He kind of put it on the backburner when we started having issues."
She said at first, Thomas did not want to be back on "Real Housewives" as filming began for season nine in late spring.
"It was really early when we had broken up," Bailey said. "He was very emotional, very upset about it all... He had to go through his process to feel the way he wanted to feel. He was entitled to that. As we were able to kind of communicate and talk, I think he felt more comfortable coming on. He does come on the show."
Bailey said Leakes, who divorced and remarried her husband Gregg, tried to campaign to get Thomas and Bailey back together. It didn't work. "I don't think it's the same situation with us," she said.
On other topics:
Sheree Whitfield's full-time return: "I'm excited to have her back full time, excited to see her show her whole life and what she's been doing."
Kim Fields' departure: "I think Kim is an amazing lady. I don't know if the show was a great fit for her. I thought she did well when she was here."
Phaedra Parks: "We've had some turmoil the past couple of seasons. We're back and cool again."
Porsha Williams: "We're either having a good time together or bumping heads. I don't see Porsha outside of the group. As for working relationships, we're good."
Kenya Moore: "Kenya is like my little problem sister sometimes. I always have this love for Kenya but she is going to act out. It's just going to happen!"
Kandi: "W're become a little closer this season to be honest. I end up spending quite a bit of time with Kandi. I'm glad about that. She's good people."
"The Real Housewives of Atlanta" returns for season nine at 8 p.m. Sunday on Bravo