For Cynthia Bailey, season 7 of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta (premiering this Sunday) is a chance for viewers to see the more outspoken side of her. “I feel like I'm just at the point where I don't have the patience that I used to,” she tells ESSENCE.com. We spoke to the model and reality star about why she still gets jitters before each season premiere, the state of her friendship with NeNe Leakes, and why she feels bad for Apollo Nida.
Do you still get jitters before each season starts?
You know what? This is my fifth year and I still do get the jitters especially this season. It's going to be a little bit different for me. In the previous season, I had my crew, and now things have changed and you guys will see that. New friends. That's definitely a big change for me going into the new season.
What about that gives you the jitters?
Well, I think that people get really attached to seeing the relationships and friendships. When the dynamics of the relationship changes some people are going to like it and some people aren’t going to like it. I always get the, ‘Aw, I wish you guys were friends are again,’ or the ‘Thank God you guys aren’t friends.’ It's just always interesting to just see how things play out on the show.
From the first episode we can see you are way more outspoken.
This is the thing; I've never been a pushover. I've always tried to take the high road in situations. Let’s just say I don't always do that this season. I felt like sometimes taking the high road does not always work for this group. I'm definitely a little more outspoken. I'm tired. Tired. I feel like I'm just at the point where I don't have the patience that I used to and it either is just working for me or it's not working for me and if it's not then I don't have any problems saying, ‘This situation is not working for me anymore.’
Has your relationship with NeNe been repaired since the reunion? Do you care to repair it?
Toward the beginning of this season I was very hurt by some of the things that happened toward the end of our friendship. Despite it all I'm still optimistic that we could at least just be cool, cordial, and still have fun together. Not be besties, but just have that respect for each other as women and just agree to just coexist.
Were the cameras not rolling and were this not part of a story line on a reality show, do you think this is a friendship that you would have fought this hard for?
Like I said at the reunion, you just come to the end of the road with people. I think that we just ... I don’t know. I don't want to say we outgrew each other. I don’t know what the right word is, but basically we just kind of came to the end of the road. Obviously, NeNe is not the only friend I've ever had in my life. I've had other girlfriends in my life and sometimes you go through things together and you don't really recover from them, and it's not even a bad thing. Sometimes it's okay to move on past friendships.
What do you think when I say Phaedra and Apollo?
I think there's a lot when it comes to Phaedra and Apollo. I guess the first thing that comes to mind is ‘complicated.’ There’s so much you just don't know about that relationship. I just don't understand a lot of it. So, I would say complicated.
Were you following his trial and sentencing?
Peter definitely followed it probably closer than I did. But, being cast mates with Apollo, I think we were all pretty much abreast to the occurrences of everything that was happening all the way up until he went in.
I'm sure you were just as shocked as the rest of the world.
I actually felt really bad. I felt really bad for him. It was just an unfortunate situation especially with him being incarcerated before. But, he did the crime and he's doing his time. He's a young guy, hopefully when he comes out he will be able to really turn his life around in a positive direction.
You and Peter seem to be in a really good space this season.
We are in a good space. One of the things that you guys always get to see between my husband and I is our real relationship. It's a real marriage. We have real issues and we're real people. We're at a great time in our life right now. It’s been four years; the marriage is settled in and I think we really understand each other. We don't expect our life to be perfect and I'm able to roll with the punches a little better than I was before as a newlywed
At one point you say not being friends with NeNe was better for your relationship with Peter. How?
I had put a lot of energy into my friendship with NeNe and I think what ended up happening for me—and I'm speaking for me on my side of the friendship—some of the energy that I was pouring into my friendship with her I should have been pouring into my marriage. Some friends are just needier than others, and I'm not trying to say anything bad about NeNe. I'm just saying I put a lot of energy into that relationship. And, I felt like once that relationship went away I had all this time to pour into my life and my husband and my kid.
Real Housewives of Atlanta premiere this Sunday at 8pm ET on Bravo.