Cynthia Bailey Is Pursuing Peace After Reality TV: ‘I Wanted To Take A Break Before I Got To My Breaking Point’
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“This was a very transformative year for me,” Cynthia Bailey says. “A lot has happened.”

There is an easygoing energy and joy in the TV personality’s voice as she talks about what’s to come. Perhaps, it’s because that’s just what the holiday season does to people. Maybe it’s because she’s blessed to have a fridge stocked full with Seagram’s Escapes cocktails (she’s been a partner of the brand since 2018). But we’d bet our money on it being because drama is no longer a regular part of her every day. Well, not in real life at least. These days, she’s given up her peach, exiting The Real Housewives of Atlanta ahead of Season 14 and wrapping up filming the first Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, to back to acting. She’s doing far better than she ever expected, as opportunities have been rolling in.

“I’ve never focused on acting until now. I’m excited to see how far I go with this because I really am enjoying this part of my life,” she says, running down a list of projects recently done and on the way, including an upcoming Lifetime movie and a recent recurring role on the BET hit Games People Play.

She adds, “As a reality star you just play yourself. I’m really enjoying that if I ever want to be involved in some drama, it’s because of my character.”

And while she jokes about that, as Bailey would later share, not having to argue with other women or deal with never-ending, tense situations anymore has been a blessing. “I think peace in a lot of ways is a choice,” she says. “And with the way I have my future life set up, I think I’ve created that space for peace.”

So what is next? We talked with the 54-year-old star about that. She opens up about how she’s looking to unwind with family and a good Seagram’s Escapes martini this holiday, if she’s getting to have the quality time with Mike Hill that she left RHOA for, and why it was important to put her pursuit of peace over the pursuit of the bag.

ESSENCE: So now that they’ve announced the cast of RHOA Season 14 and they’re filming, how is that for you? Is it like when you’ve graduated from college and everybody’s going back to school without you?

Cynthia Bailey: It’s kind of like stages. For me, I’ve been thinking about transitioning from the show for a couple of years now. To finally decide to do it, then to put it out there, say the goodbye, now I think the next step for me is watching the show come on and I’m not on it. I was on it for so long. It’s hit me but it hasn’t hit me. Even now it’s weird because they’re filming. So I think when it really hits home for me is when the season actually premieres and I’m not a part of it.

What are you looking forward to doing now, including for the holiday? And how does Seagram’s Escapes fit into those plans?

I’m the brand ambassador for the Seagram’s Escapes line so every day is kind of a holiday for me. I have a refrigerator full of Seagram’s Escapes at all times. There’s always a reason to celebrate, especially still being in a pandemic, it’s all about celebrating life. And as a former reality star, I definitely enjoy a good cocktail to help decompress from all of the drama. In terms of Christmas, one of the holiday cocktails I’m excited about is the Santa Hat martini. It’s so delicious. It’s so easy to make. The first time I made it I wasn’t so sure about the whole marshmallow trim with the coconut because I’m not a big fan of coconut, but when I tell you the way it all came together, that ended up being my favorite part! I ended up eating the coconut and marshmallow around the glass. That’s a really fun Christmas drink! Seagram’s [Escapes] always comes up with delicious, fun drinks for the holidays.

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What about plans with family? Have you guys been able to spend more time together this season now that you’re not filming?

Honestly, December used to be a slower month. Now that everyone’s figured out how to work from home, we’re still pretty much working up until about the 23rd. So there really hasn’t been a break. We just see everyone when we can see everyone. You get in where you can fit in because everybody’s busy and everybody’s working. But we plan on shutting it down by the 23rd. And Mike and I plan on going on a holiday couple’s vacation to Turks and Caicos oddly enough. I went for the Ultimate Girls Trip and uh…yeah [laughs]. I was ready to come back. But I’m going to go with my man and ain’t gonna be no drama and we’re going to have a good time. It’s going to be fun to go back with him and not eight different housewives. But in all honesty, all though there were some ups and downs and peaks and valleys for me, it was a great trip and it is a beautiful place. Mike [Hill] is super excited to go because he’s watched the Ultimate Girls Trip and he can’t wait to get there because he just thinks it looks so beautiful. I’m excited to go again with my husband.

I know you left the show, in part, because you wanted more quality time with your husband and to focus on your marriage. Has that been possible with all you have on your plate now?

You know what? No. Once I decided to leave Housewives, the focus became on finding me another job [laughs]. That’s part of the next chapter. You talk about this next chapter, then you have to start writing [it]. So my focus was to just be out in LA with my kids and my husband and focus on work. It’s been great, honestly. I didn’t think doors would open up as quickly as they did. I kind of feel like I need a break, to be honest. It’s been overwhelmingly amazing, the response that I’ve gotten and the opportunities coming my way.

Does that mean you’re done being bicoastal, living in Atlanta, and planting roots in Los Angeles?

Well…I can tell you this. I’m spending more time in LA than I ever have. At this point, I don’t really consider myself that bicoastal because most of my work is here. Lake Bailey’s still in place. Right now we still have two homes and for now that seems to be working. But I am spending most of my time primarily in Los Angeles.

Lastly, I wanted to ask you, with you being done with reality TV for now and getting to be on camera in a different way and spending more time in LA with you family, what does that mean for your peace? How are you taking care of that peace these days without cameras following you around — and is Seagram’s Escapes involved? [laughs]

My favorite way to decompress is with a nice Seagram’s Escapes cocktail. My favorite of course is my Peach Bellini, which I actually created, and that was the start of my partnership with [them].

I’m no longer pulled out of the peace bubble. I just get to focus on things that I want to do, that I enjoy doing, being able to work in a different way that isn’t drama-based. I’ll just say that. That alone, just taking that out of the equation gave me peace. It’s been 11 years and I love being a part of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and I’ll never say I’ll never ever consider going back. I loved being a part of the Girls Trip. But I think everybody needs a break sometimes and I wanted to take a break before I got to my breaking point. And just reboot and reset and be in my peace. That’s where I am now and it feels great.

Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip airs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo. And check out the Seagram’s Escapes recipe site for some cocktail ideas featuring their wide variety of delicious flavors this holiday season.