It's hard to believe 23 years have passed since America's first addictive reality show—The Real World—allowed us a peek into the lives of everyday people. Fast forward to 2015 and it's even harder to believe that one of our favorite reality divas, NeNe Leakes is leaving the Real Housewives of Atlanta. In honor of NeNe, here's a look at the most memorable reality TV stars from years past.
We met Nene Leakes in 2008 as the self-described “mouth of the South” on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. We've watched NeNe make and break friendships with castmates, making a name for herself as the outspoken housewife.
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Her unmatched personality has catapulted her into a level of stardom that proves she is a force to be reckoned with. After stints on Glee, The New Normal, Cirque du Soleil's "Zumanity" in Las Vegas and Cinderella on Broadway, NeNe continues to excerise her strengths as an entertainer. She's recently announced her departure from RHOA and revealed that she will star in a new primetime show.
Jennifer Hudson’s first step into fame included big hair and her big voice on the American Idol stage back in 2004.
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Eleven years after Idol, JHud—armed with an Oscar and a Grammy—has evolved into one of Hollywood's most sought after talents. She's gearing up to make her Broadway debut in The Color Purple. We can't wait!
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The year was 2004 when the nation cast their vote for a raspy-voiced soul singer from North Carolina to win the third season of American Idol. Her name was Fantasia Barrino and not only did she have a larger-than-life voice, she had the personality to match.
Grammy winner, mom, and actress, Fantasia has come out as one of the most succesful Idol alums. She has kept a low profile since her second run on Broadway, portraying Billie Holiday in the musical After Midnight in 2013. But, all seems to be well as the star recently revealed that she's a married woman. Go Fantasia!
Eva Marcille had us all tuning in for her magnetic personality (and those eyes) on the third season of America's Next Top Model back in 2004.
Now an actress and model, Eva has appeared in countless beauty and fashion campaigns. She's also now the proud mommy of her adorable daughter, Marley Rae McCall.
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We loved Yaya, the runner-up on season three of America's Next Top Model, for her sass and style.
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Tiffany "New York" Pollard wasn't afraid to be scandalous on VH1 reality shows like Flavor of Love and I Love New York. Despite starring in—count 'em—five VH1 reality shows about her love life, Pollard never found her dream guy. At least not while the cameras were rolling.
Pollard most recently appeared on the season 2 premiere of Botched to correct a breast augmentation gone wrong. The reality star didn't fail to entertain, even as she gave the gory details of her plastic surgery woes. We can only imagine what she'll do next.
Sheree Whitfield made quite a splash back in 2008 on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Although she only stayed with the show for three seasons, she so kindly gifted us with the iconic catchphrase, "Who gon check me boo?"
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Sheree appeared on Millionaire Matchmaker this spring in an attempt to let go of her past and find love. Although the matching process wasn't successful, fans were happy to get a glimpse of one of their favorite RHOA stars. Following rumors that she would be returning for season eight of Real Housewives of Atlanta, many reports have indicated that she's turned down the offer because producers weren't willing to pay enough.
America couldn't get enough of reality TV's queen of mean Omarosa Manigault when she appeared on the first season of The Apprentice in 2004.
Omarosa has famously appeared on over 20 reality competition shows, including The Surreal Life, Fear Factor and, most recently, All-Star Celebrity Apprentice, where she threatened to sue LaToya Jackson. She received her preacher's license in 2011 so go ahead and call her "Rev. Ro."
Kevin Powell starred in the first season of The Real World way back in 1992. His argument with castmate Julie Gentry will forever take top honors at the Black-guy-painted-as-unnecessarily-angry-on-reality-TV awards.
Powell went on to become a social activist. He published 10 books of poetry and political commentary before deciding to run for office. He has made two unsuccessful runs for United States Congress. He recently founded BK Nation, a political blog and organization aimed at bringing diverse voices together to bring today's issues to the forefront.
A Harvard Law graduate? We all shook our heads in confusion wondering why David "Punk" Otunga would want to be a contestant on season 2 of VH1's so-bad-its-good reality show I Love New York.
Otunga, is engaged to Jennifer Hudson, and a professional WWE wrestler and actor. He and Hudson have a five-year-old son named David, Jr.
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Jordin Sparks took the crown as the youngest American Idol winner back in 2006. She was only 16 when she wowed judges by singing Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me."
With two albums under her belt and another on the way, Sparks has proved we were right in voting her a winner on Idol. She's also relishing in her love life with new beau, Sage the Gemini.