Season 13 of Real Housewives Of Atlanta is here, and Kenya Moore is laying it all on the table when it comes to her strained relationship with Marc Daly. The couple exchanged vows in a super private June 2017 beach wedding (which came as a shock even to Moore’s closest co-stars.) Together, they had a daughter named Brooklyn in November 2018, who they conceived through IVF. The Dalys abruptly announced their separation after only two years of marriage, leaving fans wondering what went wrong.

During the season 13 premiere, Moore revealed that she is now faced with the difficult decision to either fight for her marriage or wave the white flag. ESSENCE spoke exclusively with Moore about fighting for her marriage in front of millions. Plus, find out her unfiltered opinions on Cynthia Bailey and Mike Hill’s pandemic wedding, and filming without her nemesis Nene Leakes.

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ESSENCE: Recently, I saw you and Marc come together at your daughter Brooklyn’s party, and it looked like it turned out beautifully. But it looks like this season, your marriage with Marc is a different story. What would you say is the biggest conflict between you two?

Kenya Moore: Um, well the biggest issue and what I’ve found early on in the marriage is the lack of respectful communication. I am very big on talking and not fighting and just explaining things so we can get to an understanding. He is not of that same mindset. If someone is hurting, a lot of times they express themselves in a kind of disrespectful way, versus a way that is conducive to getting to an understanding. For me, that doesn’t work. When it comes to someone that I love, I don’t hit below the belt. I don’t fight people that I love. I know it may be hard to believe because I’m on this show and I don’t mind going up against these girls. But when it comes to my family, I don’t do that. That’s kind of been a major factor in our relationship that makes me shut down. I just will not tolerate a certain type of communication.

If you could use one word to describe the state of your marriage right now, what would that word be?

Oh wow. Fragile.

He’s not the star, he is my support system. And it’s not something that he really wants to do, but he allowed himself to be on TV to support me.

Kenya Moore

I totally get it. But I think seeing you in relationship mode really brings out a vulnerable side of you that is really awesome to see.

And it’s different because I’ve been on TV and on reality TV for a long time. But he has not. So when hears other people in his circle say things, or insert their opinions, that might make him feel a very different way. [It might] make him angry that he is not presenting his best self, and that can be frustrating. He’s not the star, he is my support system. And it’s not something that he really wants to do, but he allowed himself to be on TV to support me. But at the same time, [he has] to take accountability for his behavior. If you are angry or disappointed, that needs to be addressed and not acted out on camera. [He’s] struggling to strike a balance between supporting his wife, and doing something that he doesn’t really want to do. It’s not his nature, he doesn’t really love the spotlight, but here he is married to someone who is in the spotlight.

How do we make it work for our family without tearing our family apart? I mean, that’s just one layer to it. We’re not even adding in issues that a newlywed couple would have, or a couple that, you know, trying to make a long distance marriage work with businesses in multiple cities. And we’re not adding those intricate layers to, um, you know to the batch. So, it’s complicated.

So speaking of behind the scenes, I saw a few behind the scenes photos and video footage from Cynthia’s wedding. I know that on social media there were some questions about the safety issues involved, being that it was a large gathering during the pandemic. Did you feel safe?

So, I love Cynthia to death and I would do anything for her. I know that she and Mike really wanted to get married. I don’t necessarily agree that having that amount of people in that type of setting was necessary. But it’s what she wanted, and she got what she wanted. I was a germaphobe even before the pandemic. So I know how anxious I was. Especially when I saw a lot of the masks off at the reception. A lot of people had a great time, but I wasn’t there to see it because I left early. I wanted to strike a balance between supporting her and being safe. But my utmost concern is for the safety of my daughter. I had my mask on and when it looked like a lot of people were not necessarily following those, rules I left.

It’s well documented that you and NeNe Leakes have not always been on the best terms, but what’s your opinion on her not returning to Real Housewives Of Atlanta? Also, how has it been filming without her?

Well we had to film without her years before. So to me it wasn’t anything new. I honestly can’t say that I miss her, for obvious reasons. But the show has gone on before, and it’s going on now. And I think we have a great season.

Finally, what can viewers expect to see from you, and what you’re most proud of revealing, in season 13?

For me, it’s just having my heart open and being my most authentic self. And whatever that looks like, whether it’s with my daughter, or the state of my marriage, whether it’s with my friends, whether it’s with business – it is it is what it is. I just am living my life very unapologetically. And I am being the most honest that I probably have been on this show in a very long time. I won’t say I don’t care about what the viewers think. I just feel like I’m in a really great place. And if [people] cannot see that and accept that, then I just believe that it’s their loss.

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