I was supposed to have an interview with Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey and fiancé Mike Hill as a pair this morning, but when Bailey had to back out for RHOA filming purposes, I had a chance to speak one on one with Hill. It turned out to be quite the in-depth conversation. I knew some things about the Fox sportscaster, mostly because of Bailey, but I learned some surprising things, including that he’s very funny, he’s D.L. Hughley’s cousin, and his marriage to Bailey will be his third. I also found out that he’s overcome a lot, which he will be sharing with people when his memoir, Open Mike, hits shelves soon. He started working on it in 2014, put it down and came back to it in 2017 when he was dealing with his inner demons and heard a message from God.
“Deep down inside I was dying. I was hurt. I was crying on the inside and I didn’t know why,” he said. “I couldn’t open up. So I picked the book back up because people always told me I needed to write it for a lot of different reasons. My father was a hitman, my best friend was killed in a drive-by shooting, domestic violence — a lot of stuff has happened in my life. In 2017, God said, ‘You’ve got to start writing.’ When I started writing, I felt like all of this stuff that was inside of me started coming out.”
“If I hadn’t gone back and looked back and saw all this stuff that led to all this mental trauma in my life, I might not be here today to be honest with you,” he added. “I definitely wouldn’t be with Cynthia.”
He is though, and the pair are set to tie the knot next fall. In the meantime, he’s filming Season 12 of RHOA with her, trying to avoid the negativity of social media and settling into his blended family with the reality star. We chatted with him about all of that and more. Read on to really get to know Mike Hill.
MadameNoire: You’ve actually known Leon Robinson longer than you’ve actually known Cynthia, which is crazy! So when you agreed to do The Steve Harvey Show and you guys hit it off and you were interested in pursuing her, did you and Leon have a conversation about that or was it not necessary?
Mike Hill: I didn’t break bro code! I ain’t break no man law because I know Leon, but we ain’t boys. It wasn’t like we were hanging out all the time. I met him, talked to him, and there was a show idea I had because I do some producing on the side for my production company. I had a show I wanted him to actually be a part of. We actually kept in touch that way. But when it came to pursuing Cynthia, I ain’t even really think about Leon as far as, I knew they had a past because they have a daughter together, but it wasn’t like I was breaking bro code. He’s given us his biggest blessing. He’s always been supportive of us. We just had dinner the other night, all of us together because their daughter Noelle just turned 20, so we got a nice little blended family. Everything’s great. Everything’s copacetic.
Speaking of Noelle, you shared that she lives with you in LA while she pursues her career. People had thoughts about that and claimed it was inappropriate. What do you say to that?
That was taken completely out of context. Noelle is like my daughter. Anything that any of my two daughters have, Noelle can have. That’s how I look at it. My youngest daughter actually lives in LA too, so it’s not like it’s just the two of us in the house together. My youngest daughter actually goes to UCLA and is always there. Cynthia’s always there! Noelle came out there because she wanted to get into acting and she’s pursuing her influencer role. She’s trying to do her thing and find herself in LA. So instead of her going to spend $3,000 or $4,000 for a place and not having any friends who she can room with, I got a four bedroom brand new house out there. I’ve got plenty of space. She’s free to come stay there and like I said, she’s like a daughter to me. So the people who tried to make it all weird and all that stuff, I tried to ignore it or whatever. It’s embarrassing and sad because it’s us saying that about each other, and that kind of pissed me off to be quite honest with you. I’m looking at it like that’s my blood. What are you saying about me? What are you saying about her? Are you questioning my character? My daughters come live with me so what’s the big deal? I look at Noelle as my daughter so if she comes to live with me while she’s doing that or whatever and Cynthia is in and out, I’m not thinking or having any second thoughts about that whatsoever.
I don’t necessarily know if I would say people were attacking your character. I think women, specifically those who are mothers, are just cautious about leaving their children with men. I think it was more of a question of why Cynthia would be okay with that, not an attack on you.
Well Noelle is 20. It’s not like Noelle is 14 and can’t take care of herself. Noelle is a grown woman. Noelle comes in and out and I rarely even see her to be honest. She’s in her room, I’m in my room and I’m hardly at home. Basically she has the house to herself because I travel so much. I’m always working. I’ve got three or four jobs that I’m working so I’m in and out. I see her maybe 15 minutes of the day that we’re together or whatever, but she knows I’m always there for her. If there’s anything I need she is there for me as well, taking care of some of the things in the house. So I didn’t see anything wrong with it at all. It was just something that was needed. It’s almost like if I was Cynthia’s brother and Noelle came to live with Cynthia’s brother, why would anybody complain about that? I’m Cynthia’s fiancé. I’m going to be in her life. We’re going to be married. Even if I was just a good friend of Cynthia’s, I would still instill that welcome to anyone who’s in her family because I look at her as family already. People that made a big deal about it, I understand it’s their opinion and they can think what they want to, but I know what it is, Noelle knows what it is, Cynthia knows what it is and at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.
Does Leon feel any kind of way about it?
Leon has no problem with it. It’s just unfortunate that sometimes you see little blurbs and people jumping in your DMS and people jumping in your social media and saying stuff. You try to avoid all the negativity. You see it and you hear it. But at the same time it’s like, it’s just disheartening sometimes that we can’t look at Black people, I’m just speaking real right now, that we can’t look at it and say we’re just here to help one another and not make it anything nefarious or weird or crazy or scandalous. The thing about it is, I saw people on blogs and social media talking about it, bringing it up, and not for one second did I think I made a mistake by welcoming her into my home. I would definitely do it again. My kids and Noelle have a great relationship. They’re always together and always talking or whatever. Like I said, my youngest daughter is at UCLA and she’s basically Noelle’s sister. They hang out all the time. Noelle has been a huge help to me, picking up my daughter whenever she needs a ride or whatever or taking care of some business. I just think people made a big deal out of it and I just hope that we can get past that.
Did you ever feel a pressure to propose to Cynthia or did you know you were going to do it when you did it? Because she was out here shopping for dresses for fun and telling people she was thirsty to be Mrs. Mike Hill [laughs].
I don’t feel pressure to do anything. One thing I learned about my previous marriages, or my previous relationships, is that I’m at an age where I’m not going to do anything I don’t want to do. I don’t care if it’s personal, I don’t care if it’s professional. I don’t care if it’s hanging out playing — I’m not even going to go to a restaurant and eat anything anybody wants me to eat. If I don’t want to eat it I’m not going to eat it. So making a decision like that, there was no pressure whatsoever. Getting married to Cynthia is absolutely everything I’ve wanted to do. I never thought I would do it again. If you would have asked me three years ago, I would have been like “Hell no I’m not getting married again! First of all I can’t afford it! Secondly I don’t want to do it no more because marriage doesn’t work for me.” But I wasn’t ready. I did a lot of things in my past that I’m not proud of. I made a lot of mistakes in my past, but getting married to Cynthia is not one of them. So I knew kind of like after the first six months that I wanted to marry her. I never thought that I would be able to say those words or even discuss anything like that with another woman. I thought I was going to be that old man in the club, that playa. Single, shirt open all the way down to my belly button, just going to have a mid-life crisis for the rest of my life. I loved it! I was living my life and enjoying my single life. But at the same time, her coming into my life has just been everything. I was happy before but she just makes me happier. So no pressure whatsoever. She probably felt more pressure from me to get it done to be quite honest with you. So when she said she’s thirsty, I’m just as parched for her.
What inspired you to want to get on The Steve Harvey Show and try your chances at getting to know her if you were fine being single?
When it first came to me I was like, ‘This is some publicity sh-t.’ Cynthia Bailey don’t need no help finding love. And at the time I didn’t need help finding love. I was happy living my single life. So when I went on there, this is a good way — I’ll meet her, I know Steve, I’ve got a good relationship with Steve because D.L. Hughley is my cousin. I’ve known him for twentysomething years. So I was like, okay, I’ll go on the Steve’s show when the producers asked me. Go on there and help out, have fun, enjoy it and get a laugh or two. I thought I could be seen by a different audience because I was a sportscaster who was kind of crossing over so it was different exposure. But when I went on there and met her and talked to her, I felt her vibe immediately. It was like, ‘Man, this is somebody who’s supposed to be in my life.’ So even after she chose me out of the dating pool, I felt like, ‘Ok well that was it. I’m not going to see her. If I run into her again I’ll say hey, might chat her up.’ But thanks to Steve’s producers, they sort of hoodwinked us. They facilitated the whole thing. They said, ‘She really wants to go on a date with you,’ and they told her the same thing, ‘He really wants to go on a date with you.’ They kind of hooked us up like that. It’s almost like they set us up on a blind date even though we saw each other. We started talking and initially it was a slow burn, but that slow burn became a blaze and now it’s an inferno. I’m thankful for that.
Do you mind if I ask how many years you were married before?
The first time I was married, it was officially 10 years. The second time was 11 years. I was married a long time, and it cost me in those alimony payments [laughs].
And so your daughters, are they from one marriage or both?
Both. So I got one daughter from each marriage.
Were you ever concerned about having to be on RHOA? You’re on TV so obviously it’s not new to you. However, this is a different type of beast. Even Cynthia’s ex-husband recently said that this show doesn’t pain the men who are on it in a positive light. Were you nervous about that?
I was. I’m a journalist and there’s some integrity and credibility that goes with that job. There’s an image you have to have to be taken seriously so there was a bit of trepidation to be quite honest with you. I talked to her about it, and having that background and being in entertainment and television has helped me in a sense, being on this show. I know how producers think, I know how things are set up. I get that Spide-y sense when drama is about to start so I can I just Moonwalk my way out. Sometimes I think if you’ve been around it and you’ve been on a reality TV show long enough, you get used to the cameras, and that’s dangerous. You forget they’re there and you just start saying anything. Luckily, that hasn’t happened to me. I think this season you’ll actually see our first argument on camera. But yeah, there was a little bit of concern but I wanted to support Cynthia. I told her from the beginning, I said, “If I’m dating you, I’m not going to go on this reality show just dating you. I’m not going to be a part of a storyline.” That’s not me and I don’t need the exposure like that. I said, “But if I’m in your life and we’re serious about moving forward, dating with a purpose or we’re in a relationship, I’ll deal with it because I know that’s a part of your life. And if that’s a part of your life and a part of your brand, who you are and that’s your job, I’m there to support you.” So I don’t have any regrets whatsoever now.
Are you guys inviting Steve to the wedding?
I want Steve to officiate! I think he hooked us up, the show hooked us up or whatever, so I think it would be a great idea to have Steve Harvey officiate this wedding. We can get him ordained. You can do that online [laughs]. Honestly, it would be great to have him there in some capacity. Great to have him minister, or have him in involved in some kind of capacity. I know he’s going to be there in some kind of way or at least speak.
And knowing that you’ve been married twice before, what have you learned from the first two relationships that makes you confident the third time will be the charm for you?
I learned from my two previous marriages that I wasn’t whole. I wasn’t a good person in my previous two marriages. People have this image of me being on television and think I’m square or kind of corny, but people who know me know the type of person I used to be. I wasn’t a bad person, but I did bad things. It’s going to be in my book, Open Mike. Infidelity was rampant in my first and second marriage. It cost me my second one but there were a bunch of other details involved in that. At the same time, I know who I am now. I know that I’ve grown. I know that I’ve matured. I know that I’m ready to be in a relationship with somebody like Cynthia Bailey and before I wasn’t ready to be married. I got married for whatever reason I got married, but now I am marrying Cynthia Bailey because I’m whole, she’s whole, and it’s something I want to do.
There was a lot of counseling that I needed. It’s a lot of therapy that I needed that I didn’t know that I needed because there was a stigma in the community about seeking help. You can have something inside of you that’s eating you alive and not know it. My book was my therapy and it got it all up out of me. It actually helped me. If I hadn’t written that book, we wouldn’t be together right now.
So yes, I learned that I’m not perfect and I learned that I’m not going to try and be perfect. I learned that if I’m not happy I’m not going to stay in something, and if I can learn from the past and not make those same mistakes in the future, I’m going to be fine. We’ll be perfect and by the grace of God. He’ll be watching over our relationship. If it’s built on that rock and that platform, I know it’s going to be fine.