Most viewers were shocked to watch Lisa Wu Hartwell lose her cool on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" reunion. Hailed as the levelheaded, business-savvy mom and wife of Bravo's newest drama queens, Hartwell's ready-to-knuckle-up confrontation with costar Kim Zolciak taught us never sleep on the reserved chick, because mama don't take no mess. Hartwell sets the record straight with ESSENCE.com about her emotional reaction, the truth about NeNe's Kim jingle, and why you can't believe everything you see on reality TV.
ESSENCE.COM: There was a lot of heat and smoke during the reunion show. When you responded to Kim, we couldn't help but think, No, Lisa don't become dramality TV's new Angry Black Woman! What set you off?
LISA WU HARTWELL: I would first like to apologize for my behavior on the reunion show. I am not proud of how I reacted. However, I believe that no one should allow anyone to walk all over them and spread lies. I've tried to steer clear of the drama. What happened between Kim and I had nothing to do with the reunion show. Kim had lied several times on me regarding the now-infamous song in the limo. But what really set me off are the hurtful things she said about my kids. I am human. I am a businesswoman, but first and foremost, I am a mother. If you stand for anything, you must stand for your family and your integrity. I tried to put my disappointment aside while we taped the reunion. I was thinking to myself, She's already in the dog house; clearly she won't lie on me now. Then she started lying and all those feelings came back. She definitely pushed the wrong button.
ESSENCE.COM: We're glad you brought that up because the blogosphere says you lost cool points after putting NeNe on blast when she sang her Kim jingle. Why did you choose to share that info, and who did you share it with?
HARTWELL: NeNe and I weren't friends. I simply discussed my evening with a so-called girlfriend (Sheree) as many women do. Sheree and Kim were not close. The editing makes it seem that we were all hanging out but we weren't. There was a production crew in the limo with us and they initially told Kim. I have no problem admitting that I discussed it with Sheree, but it was never my intention to stir the pot. I was never that close to Kim. That same night I found out that Kim had been talking about all of us. Why would I tell Kim when we weren't even cool and I just found out that she was talking badly about me? Some of the production crew played a huge part in stirring up the drama. There's a lot the viewers don't see. I have never been two-faced. If I told Kim, I would admit to it. It's sad that it got blown out of proportion, but NeNe and Kim's relationship was over long before she sang the song. What people don't realize is that I was the last woman to join the cast and these women had issues with one another before I stepped foot on the set. I do want to thank my consistent fans for seeing through the traps that some have tried to set for me. I am truly thankful for all of the support everyone has shown me.
ESSENCE.COM: That's why they need to rename reality TV to dramality TV, because the producers create a perception that's a deception, therefore the viewers' conclusion is an illusion-all for the sake of entertainment. But both Sheree and Kim say you were the one who dropped dime on NeNe. Is that true?
HARTWELL: Again, I only discussed the song with Sheree (who I thought was
a girlfriend). I was not close to NeNe or Kim. As a matter of fact, Sheree and Kim weren't hanging out, but the way it was edited it appears that we were all friends. I would have never told Sheree had I known it would blow up like this. Sheree then spoke to me and told me that Kim already knew about the song because someone from the production crew who was in the limo told her. All of a sudden, Kim and Sheree change the story and say that I told Kim. I was like, Wow! You're gonna lie to my face? I told all of them that I wasn't afraid of any of them and if I had told Kim I would say so because nothing was gonna happen to me. I do not have a problem with confrontation; I have a problem with liars. I don't know why they made me the scapegoat. Our relationship was damaged when they initially lied on me and then Kim took it a step further when she said some very hurtful things regarding me and my children.
ESSENCE.COM: In retrospect, if you had to do it all over again, would you still have had an emotional reaction, and will you forgive and trust Kim again?
HARTWELL: I would have to say if the reunion show was taped a week later, I'm sure I would have handled it differently. The wounds were fresh. I will always be professional and cordial with all of my costars. Do I forgive her? Yes. Will I trust her? No.
ESSENCE.COM: When it comes to living under a microscope, one must be careful who their alliances are and each of you have made your pick. Who is yours and why?
HARTWELL: My alliance is with my husband. NeNe and I are cool, because at least with NeNe, what you see is what you get.
ESSENCE.COM: Anything you'd like to do differently the second go around?
HARTWELL: I've had a chance to get to know all of the women now. The dynamics of some of the relationships have shifted. I will definitely listen to my intuition and hopefully my two sons Jordan and Justin will join us for the second season.
- Red Carpet