When Nene Leakes returned to film this season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, she admits that she was “very skeptical about everything, and about everybody.”
Fans saw the Atlanta businesswoman weather many storms last season—whether it was being the primary caretaker of her husband, Gregg, who was battling cancer; or dealing with the unraveling of her longtime friendship with co-star Cynthia Bailey. It didn’t help that after the season ended, Leakes still dealt with rumors that she might’ve been temporarily kicked off the show she’d help make must-watch TV.
Clearing up those rumors ahead of the season 12 premiere on Sunday, Leakes tells ESSENCE: “I have never been suspended on the show.”
The drama all stems from a now-iconic scene from last season when a night at Casa de Leakes turned into a bit of a brawl. The reality star hosted a “Bye Wig” party that went from the dining room table to Leakes’ bedroom. That’s when Kandi Burruss and Porsha Williams wanted to see inside Leakes’ closet, but she wasn’t having it. The reality star pulled and ripped a cameraman’s shirt to get the ladies to stop entering and for the cameraman to stop filming. Williams claimed during the reunion that the cameraman’s tooth was chipped during the altercation.
Leakes admits now, “I pulled the camera guy’s shirt.”
But since the incident aired on Bravo last March, Leakes says the two have made up.
“Those guys didn’t care one bit.”
“He loves me. My producer said he loves me. The same producers are in my house every single season,” she adds. “It’s not personal at all.”
Leakes thinks that “the viewers, or whoever, tried to put…stank on it,” or blow it out of proportion. “But those guys didn’t care one bit.”
It didn’t make Leakes’ return any easier, she revealed while driving around Atlanta running errands—especially with her friendship with Bailey on the rocks and the return of her one-time nemesis, Kenya Moore.
But if there’s anything this reality TV star veteran understands is that a new season means new friendships, new alliances and new dramas.
“Friendships change every season. This is nothing different. Next season, there’ll be somebody else and next season somebody else. So, it’s just like a merry-go-round,” she explains. “So, it’s not the most comfortable thing to be on the outside of the circle, if you will. But it is what it is.”
Leakes said that despite beginning the season on the outs with many ladies she’s still going to “show up and do your part. And so, again, it’s not comfortable, but you just do what you got to do.”
And then again, she always has Marlo Hampton.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta‘s season 12 premieres on Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.