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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NeNe Leakes brings the 'Atlanta' heat
TELEVISION
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2011-11-02

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The Real Housewives of Atlanta have been turning up the heat on Bravo for years and now begins the fourth season of the show. Hotlanta got hotter as NeNe Leakes from the show recently landed a spot on The Celebrity Apprentice 4 stirring up some trouble for Trump and the gang. This Georgia peach ultimately walked off the show without raising money for her cause but her appearance sparked controversy and entertainment. WCT called NeNe in ATL at dinnertime to find out the roots of the single wife and how it all began.

Windy City Times: Hi, NeNe. How's Georgia?

NeNe Leakes: Well, I am at a restaurant so I can't be too loud.

WCT: Did you grow up in warm Atlanta?

NL: I did. I grew up right outside in Athens, Ga. It is about 45 minutes out of Atlanta.

WCT: I don't hear a Southern accent.

NL: I am originally from Queens. I went to New York every summer with my mom. I went to school in Athens with my aunt.

WCT: I noticed we are almost the same age.

NL: I don't know how old you are but I am only 25!

WCT: [Laughs] Me, too.

NL: Okayyy.

WCT: How did you get involved with the Real Housewives in the first place?

NL: How I was originally cast was when I met this girl in Atlanta. She was just a girl that I know when I would go out to places. She said that she knew the producers of the Orange County Housewives. I didn't believe her at first. They were actually here in Atlanta and looking for girls to be in the show. The rules were that you had to live behind a gate and you had to be married. That sounded like me so I said, "Hook me up."

She gave the lady my number. The lady called me who was doing the casting in Atlanta and we set up an appointment where she could come to my house and interview me. She loved me and asked about the rest of my friends, who I hung out with, etc. They wanted to build the show around somebody. They wanted a group of girls who know each other. I said that I knew Kim Zolciak, Sheree Whitfield, DeShawn Snow and a girl named Terry Ewing. Terry couldn't get her contract worked out and they found Lisa Wu-Hartwell and we were the Housewives of Atlanta. So not only am I a Housewife, but a casting director. I cast the show.

WCT: What a great story!

NL: That's how it was and here we are—the Housewives of Atlanta. I knew Sheree, Kim, DeShawn. I gave them all my fabulous friend's names and numbers. They interviewed them and picked them.

WCT: I interviewed Kandi Burruss from the show in the past. She is sweet.

NL: Yeah, she is all right.

WCT: What can readers look forward to this time out on season four?

NL: Well, of course you know I love to do business. I am an entrepreneur so there are lots of things that I do. This year you will get to hear me talk about my restaurants and bars that I am trying to open. I actually do open up a restaurant inside of the Sacramento airport; it is called Famous Famiglia. You won't see that on the show but you will see me talking about it. I opened it up right after the show closed. It opened about three weeks ago. I am also working on a wine called Miss Moscato. So you will get to see me doing business.

WCT: Are you still working on the radio?

NL: Yes. I still co-host every now and then with various radio stations. I have actually had lots of interviews about me having my own radio show. We don't know yet. I am just interviewing and trying to see what is really going to work for me.

WCT: Yeah. Did you regret anything that happened on Celebrity Apprentice?

NL: No, I don't regret anything that happened. It was all very real and that is how I really felt. I don't take anything of it back.

WCT: I have talked to several people after the show, like Dionne Warwick and La Toya Jackson.

NL: I love La Toya but Dionne was an old, mean lady.

WCT: Well, she was nice on the phone but I don't know how she is in person.

NL: She is not nice, honey!

WCT: Any shout-outs to your gay fans?

NL: I love my gays, honey. I think I'm a gay woman, a gay man, I don't know, I think I'm half-man, half-woman. [Both laugh.]

WCT: Do you go out the to the gay bars in Atlanta?

NL: I do. I was just in Miami recently and stumbled up on a gay bar on the beach. I nearly died. There were so many people there I didn't know what to do with myself.

WCT: You wrote a book entitled Never Make the Same Mistakes Twice. Would you ever want to do another one?

NL: You know what? This is the time in my life when I should be writing a book. I tell people this all the time because so many things happen in my life. When I wrote that book I was still with my husband. He and I are separated right now. I have so many opportunities coming to me. There are so many fake people in my life I feel like I should be writing about it. Hopefully, I can do another book.

WCT: People can follow you on Twitter about it. I saw all your "tweetie pies" on there today.

NL: I love my "tweetie pies!"

WCT: Do you have a website?

NL: I don't. I am working on a website right now and soon it will be up and running. You can add me on Facebook.

WCT: Well, sorry to interrupt your dinner schedule.

NL: No problem. Let's meet in person sometime and thanks for talking to me, sweetie.

Atlanta braves another season of the Real Housewives beginning Nov. 6. Check www.bravotv.com for listing and details.


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