After years of being known as the “mean girl,” NeNe Leakes finally cracks. During the final episode of the season 7 Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion, the OG Housewife reveals a rarely seen sensitive side to the rest of the girls and her counselor, Dr. Jeff.
Kenya Moore accuses NeNe of flirting with Cynthia Bailey’s husband, Peter Thomas. Both NeNe and Peter deny this and surprisingly, Peter sides with Kenya.
“I think that we all owe her an apology,” Peter tells host Andy Cohen. “I think Kenya’s been dealt a bad hand from day one because of her personality.”
The rest of the girls continue to address NeNe’s choices from the season. Andy asks how the friendship between Cynthia and NeNe unfurled. NeNe believes that Peter influenced Cynthia to sever ties after NeNe called Peter a “bitch” during a group trip to Anguilla. NeNe also thinks that Cynthia didn’t sit well with NeNe’s thoughts on Cynthia’s daughter, Noelle, dating at an early age. Cynthia accuses NeNe of trying to get her kicked off the show once their friendship fell apart. During a Watch What Happens Live show after season 6, NeNe told Andy that Cynthia doesn’t really bring anything to the group.
“I would never be so low as to try to take food off your table,” Cynthia tells NeNe — who hits Cynthia with her new favorite phrase, “You’re right, I’m wrong.”
Andy recalls a huge argument that Claudia Jordan and NeNe had in Puerto Rico — where NeNe called Claudia a half-breed. Claudia says that she was offended. NeNe says that Claudia only took offense to being called a whore and chalks her heated remarks up to being a “battle of the words.” She apologizes to the viewers…but not to Claudia.
Andy also addresses the failed group counseling session that NeNe initiated…and ended up leaving because she felt attacked. Dr. Jeff joins the group and gives his take on what went down. NeNe feels that Dr. Jeff didn’t sympathize with her, and let everyone else play the victim.
“I don’t want to be a victim. I never want to be a victim. I’m a strong woman,” NeNe says. “My mother didn’t raise me. My father never claimed me…everybody had all these issues that caused them to feel this way when I was in the room.”
Dr. Jeff says that he understands, and that he knew about NeNe’s familial problems. During the session, he wanted everyone to address their issues so that NeNe could “explain to them where [she was] coming from.”
“She has been abandoned,” Dr. Jeff tells the group. “She has had those feelings where she felt completely disowned, where she carries this pain. Your pain is part of your power.”
A visibly shaken NeNe begins to cry after a while. “I can’t talk about my mom,” she gasps.
Cynthia sympathizes with her former friend. “I know that NeNe has been through a lot…whether we’re good friends or not, I’m always happy to see her success…My heart completely goes out to you.”
Kenya also feels for her frenemy. “You think we’re all against you,” she tells NeNe. “By hearing your story right now, we have a lot more in common than you even want to admit.”
NeNe gets up to leave, and is delayed by the girls who surround her in a group hug. Phaedra Parks, Porsha Williams, and Cynthia walk her off the set as she continues to sob uncontrollably.
“She’s been carrying it,” Gregg Leakes tell Dr. Jeff as NeNe freshens up her makeup. He explains the backstory to Andy.
“Her mom had five children when she was very young. And she couldn’t take care of five kids,” Gregg recalls. “She sent NeNe and her brother to Athens to be raised by her aunt…she has always wondered why she had to be one of the ones sent away. It’s bugged her her whole life.”
NeNe pulls it together and joins the rest of the group. She tells Andy that she’s been misunderstood.
“Sometimes people think that I haven’t been through anything,” NeNe explains. “I don’t talk about some of the things I’ve been through.”
The girls — most of whom she argued with several times during the season — commend NeNe for her breakthrough and her resilience.
“I don’t want to fight with anybody anymore,” Claudia says. “What are we going to get out of that? The lesson here is…for us to try not to assume someone is stronger than they are.”
“We share a sisterhood,” NeNe notes. “We are on this journey together. It’s great to know that when something happens, the people who you work with everyday will at least be there for you.”
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