By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Friday, May 20, 2016
NeNe Leakes, speaking to hundreds of fans at the Ultimate Women's Expo this past weekend at the Georgia World Congress Center, refused to answer specifically whether she'll be back for the ninth season of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."
But her teasingly noncommittal answer certainly implied that she will return because if she really wasn't planning to, she'd say so. She's that type of person.
The questioner asked straight out if she was coming back after complaining this past season without her was a "snoozefest."
"Season nine?" Leakes said on stage. "Uhhhh...'Housewives?' Uhhhh.... you got to wait for them [Bravo] to announce it. I can't announce it. I would be in so much trouble if I made the announcement."
"Maybe?" the questioner said.
"Maybe. We'll see. I think you guys will be surprised by who's coming back and who's not coming back."
Leakes during her 30-minute talk also said she has a one-woman show which she plans to bring in Atlanta toward the end of the year.
She is also not into opening a boutique for her clothing line. "That's not my thing." But she says, "I love doing pop-up shops," she said.
One of the sadder questions from the audience was someone who has no friends and wondered how to make them. NeNe couldn't help her. "That must feel pretty lonely," she said.
Of the Saturday speakers, NeNe and Mo'Nique drew the largest crowds. (By the time Guidice arrived at 3 p.m, the seated area had emptied out significantly.)
Mo'Nique, the Oscar winning actress, comic and former BET talk show host, arrived with her trademark sass and brass.
""For all the inspiration I give to y'all, y'all give it back to me. Without y'all, we don't exist baby!" she said.
Using a preacher-type style of speechifying, she piled on platitudes on family and felt very rehearsed but suitably impassioned. "Be unapologetic about loving your family," she said. To friends, "I'll see you when I see you."
One fan who drove in from Florida asked when she was going to return to TV. Her BET talk show lasted two seasons and ended in 2011. Mo'Nique has never stated explicitly what happened but it was presumably over money. And she more or less confirmed it here in very vague terms:
"I'll return to television when it makes sense. There were choices and decisions I had to make as a black female entertainer that a lot of people couldn't understand but what I have to say was we cannot keep accepting these wages, we cannot keep accepting this disrespect, we cannot keep accepting the mistreatment... I'll be back when it makes sense."
Nobody asked Kim Fields about whether she's coming back on "Real Housewives of Atlanta." Her return seems very much in the air. Her brief speech about using power for good didn't get much reaction from the crowd.
She made a video from stage for Sasha Farber, her partner on "Dancing With the Stars." (She was eliminated partway through.)
"I'm so uncoordinated," she said, modestly.
Given her long resume, she received a flurry of "advice" questions.
She did describe her challenges on "Housewives." "It was a constant roller coaster ride, parenting and working, and being social. Finding time for myself and all sorts of things. I can't say up here that I have it all figured out," she said. "Balance does not mean fixed. It's like a tightrope. You need to stay constantly in motion to stay balanced."
One thing she learned from the show is she needs "me" time, something she had neglected for a long time. "Once I discovered dancing, that was my happy place," she said.
During her recent birthday, she went into a dance studio by herself and danced. "Not a class," she said. "It was something that made me happy."
One fan said many folks thought Fields was boring on the show by not "fighting back" in traditional "Housewives" fashion. In the fan's mind, "she is showing a real example of a child of God. I felt that was very inspiring... It made you even more beautiful of a person because you came from your spirit... You held your own." Fields hugged the fan.