Housewives star NeNe Leakes sues Bravo, Andy Cohen alleging systemic racism, critics suspect ulterior motive

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A former “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star who appeared on the show for multiple seasons without complaint has sued the companies and people behind the show, claiming that they’d “fostered and tolerated a hostile and racist work environment.”

But given how long former star NeNe Leakes, who’s black, had remained on the show without any public complaints, critics find her allegations to be extremely dubious.

Leakes specifically alleges in a suit filed Wednesday that for years she’d complained to the show’s executives about “racist remarks from fellow housewife Kim Zolciak-Biermann, who is white,” according to the Associated Press.

As the cast of the show talked about possibly attending a barbeque during season one of the show in 2008, for instance, Zolciak-Biermann allegedly said something along the lines of “I don’t want to sit around with NeNe and eat chicken.”

Four years later, she allegedly made “racially offensive and stereotypical” remarks about the new home of a fellow housewife, calling the neighborhood a “ghetto” and asking whether the housewife, who’s black, really needed a swimming pool.

Also in 2012, Zolciak-Biermann allegedly used the N-word after a dispute with Leakes and a couple of housewives, allegedly suggested that Leakes in particular was a drug user and allegedly called her home a “roach nest.”

Critics, for their part, believe Leakes is making these allegations now because she needs money:

The suit further claims that after Leakes complained, the show’s executives “did not terminate their relationship with Zolciak-Biermann, nor take any other meaningful action to put an end to her racially-offensive behavior.”

If anything, the suit alleges, Zolciak-Biermann was rewarded with a spinoff show. According to Leakes’ attorney, this was because of “systemic racism.”

“From the day the series began filming, NeNe was the target of systemic racism from co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann, which was tolerated by Bravo executive producer Andy Cohen and other executives,” Leakes’ lawyer David deRubertis reportedly said in a statement.

In an email to the AP, another attorney, Joe Habachy, added that “not a day goes by that NeNe doesn’t wake up with an onslaught of overwhelming emotions as a direct result of these unfortunate and avoidable occurrences.”

Not mentioned in the suit is that Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann were friends before the show and that Leakes had, in fact, recommended Zolciak-Biermann for the show:

The suit reportedly names networks NBCUniversal and Bravo, production companies True Entertainment and Truly Original, and several of the show’s executives, including executive producer Andy Cohen, as defendants.

“NBC, Bravo and True foster a corporate and workplace culture in which racially-insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated – if not, encouraged,” the suit reads.

Meanwhile, Leakes either left the show or was ousted right before its 13th season began in 2020.

“The suit says Leakes’ negotiations for the season came as the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining major momentum, with Leakes a vocal supporter,” according to the AP.

“As the Black Lives Matter movement swept our nation, Mrs. Leakes — Bravo’s historically most successful Black female talent — should have been embraced by NBC, Bravo, and True. Instead, NBC, Bravo, and True forced her out of the ‘house she built,’ denying her a regular role,” the suit reportedly reads.

But critics say there’s a glaring problem with this narrative, namely that as recently as last year, Leakes had been expressing interest in returning to the show.

“Yeah, sure, I’ll return to the show. I’m OK with returning to the show as long as we can work through a few things. I’m happy to return to the show. Besides, I have a lot of unfinished business with a couple of them that they confirmed on the show,” she said during an appearance last November on “The Real.”

Listen:

Another problem is Leakes’ history of changing stories.

After the incident in 2020, she first suggested she’d been forced out.

Look:

Yet in an interview weeks later, she said that she’d voluntarily left after feeling like she was being pushed out.

“I left because I was being pushed out. … If you are working at McDonald’s, working 40 hours a week, they drop you down to 20 hours, they drop you down to 15, they drop you down to 10, it’s obvious that they want you to quit,” she told Extra.

Also, according to the show’s fans, Zolciak-Biermann wasn’t the only one known for making inappropriate comments:

See more criticism below:

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