Kandi Burruss interview: her racy scene on ‘The Chi’ and how ‘Real Housewives’ is shooting in a pandemic

Kandi Burruss as Roselyn in THE CHI,  "A Stain".  Photo Credit: Elizabeth Sisson/SHOWTIME.

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Kandi Burruss as Roselyn in THE CHI, "A Stain". Photo Credit: Elizabeth Sisson/SHOWTIME.

Kandi Burruss is known for a lot of things. Reality star. Singer. Entrepreneur.

And now she can add actor to her already expansive resumé. Last year, she nabbed her first meaty acting role on Showtime’s addictive Chicago-based drama “The Chi” as Roselyn, the Machiavellian wife of Douda (Curtiss Cook), the ruthless gang boss and mayoral candidate. The show airs Sundays at 9 p.m.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before the final two episodes of season three, Burruss said she faced a lot of skepticism when she expressed a desire to go into acting. She acknowledged bias against reality stars entering this world. And she is now a veteran of the reality genre, courtesy of her time on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

“A lot of people didn’t take me seriously,” said Burruss. “I talked to Lena Waithe [the creator of “The Chi”], and she said when she decided to cast me, a lot of people were like, ‘Why would you do that?’ They thought she was putting a TV personality on the show for publicity.”

But Burruss said Waithe picked her because she felt she was the best person for the role.

“I love Roselyn because she’s very feisty,” said Burruss.

Roselyn’s past with Douda is muddy. She is there ostensibly to help him win the election by being the supportive wife and providing him advice. During one scene that is both comical, tense and passionate at the same time, Roselyn and Douda have sex while simultaneously discussing election strategy.

This is the scene that was widely discussed during season 12 of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and Todd Tucker, Burruss’ husband, expressed reservations about it.

In the end, he accepted it in the name of art, and they watched the scene together without incident when it aired last month.

Though the scene is clearly R rated, Burruss said it wasn’t nearly as raunchy as she anticipated.

“When I was talking to Lena, I wasn’t sure how much I had to show,” she said. “I think I actually got lucky. It wasn’t a lot of nudity.”

Burruss actually auditioned for the role of Dre, the supportive wife of Kevin and Keisha’s mom Nina. But Burruss’ shooting schedule with “Real Housewives” precluded her from that role. “I was super sad about it, but I was able to switch into this role, which I really, really like.”

She is usually super busy with work, but the pandemic has given her an opportunity to spend more quality time with her two young children and her teen daughter, thanks to the pandemic. “They keep me smiling,” she said. “Every day they crack me up doing something different.”

And now she’s shooting the 13th season of “Real Housewives” — with restricted crew, lots of outdoor shoots and no big parties or overseas vacations. “They are taking of precautions overall to keep everyone safe,” she said.

Her anticipated spin-off show “Old Lady Gang” focused on her Atlanta restaurants has been put on hold. “Restaurants are usually crowded with a lot of people,” she said. “We are trying to wait things out and see if the number of cases go down.” (Her restaurants are open for dine-in seating.)

But Bravo embraced her idea of doing a special on race, which aired last week, featuring several Bravo reality personalities including Burruss’ castmate Porsha Williams and “Married to Medicine” Atlanta personalities Dr. Simone Whitmore and Toya Bush-Harris.

“I reached out to Bravo in June,” she said. “With everything going on in the world, I felt like people needed to hear it. People always call us friends in their heads. They can hear our points of view and relate to it. Bravo is an ally supporting the movement. I’m very proud of the results. Racism is a real thing. It doesn’t matter what financial bracket you’re in. You deal with it from all aspects of life. I learned a little something myself” during the special.

She found discussions about disparities in medical care for Blacks versus whites as especially illuminating.

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Bravo on August 9 aired a special discussing race with several Bravo reality stars including Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker (upper left), Greg Gourdet of "Top Chef" (top right) and Porsha Williams (bottom).

Credit: Bravo

Bravo on August 9 aired a special discussing race with several Bravo reality stars including Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker (upper left), Greg Gourdet of "Top Chef" (top right) and Porsha Williams (bottom).

Credit: Bravo

Combined ShapeCaption
Bravo on August 9 aired a special discussing race with several Bravo reality stars including Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker (upper left), Greg Gourdet of "Top Chef" (top right) and Porsha Williams (bottom).

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

She is also proud of Willliams’ maturation into a social justice activist. Williams was recently arrested at a protest over the death of Breonna Taylor, a Louisville black woman who was shot by police. Williams’ grandfather is the late civil rights legend Hosea Williams.

“I love what she’s doing,” Burruss said. “I feel like everybody has room for growth. She’s becoming the woman her grandfather would want her to be. She’s now walking in his footsteps.”

Georgia State University instructor and attorney Mo Ivory will be holding a graduate school entertainment law school class focused on Burruss’ long career.

ExploreRELATED: Mo Ivory teaching GSU legal class about Kandi Burruss

“I was shocked when she chose me,” Burruss said. “I feel honored. But it makes sense. My life would be a good case study for people looking to be entertainment lawyers. I’ve had all kinds of lawyers and lawsuits. There’s plenty of stuff they can study!”

ON TV

“The Chi,” 9 p.m. on Sundays, Showtime