As big of a bold personality as Kenya Moore comes off to be on Real Housewives of Atlanta, ready to come for you if you send for her, when you actually get the chance to meet and talk with her in person, she’s very warm and welcoming. No shade, just tea to sip and serve. I learned this when I spoke with the beauty in our NYC offices about returning for the current season of RHOA. We talked about all of the recent drama, including Eva Marcille calling her a “nappy head,” the hope she has that she will be able to save her marriage to Marc Daly, and why she has no regrets about embarrassing Marlo Hampton at her wig launch. We also talked about life outside of the Housewives bubble, including her acting days and what it’s been like as former Miss USA to watch Black women recently win all the top pageant crowns. It was quite the conversation. Check out what she had to say.
MadameNoire: First off, I wanted to ask you what is it like to be back on RHOA? You left last season to look out for your well-being during your pregnancy and now you’re back to deal with the shade and drama. I just wonder if that ever gets exhausting, because it can be exhausting to watch.
Kenya Moore: Honestly, it’s never a good time because it can be so stressful when you have people who are constantly coming at you for no reason. You’ll see as the season unfolds, I felt like Eva made comments for no reason. Like, what have I ever done to you? I’ve always been nice to you. Same thing with Marlo. I was always nice to her. One time I didn’t invite her to a party, then all of a sudden, “That’s the reason why your mother doesn’t want you.” Where does something like that even come from? I feel like, with NeNe, the issues have been ongoing, and to have no support when I was pregnant with my high-risk pregnancy, and not have a job, for her to again, to me, kick you while you’re down and make things all the time about her, I was like, this is not my friend. This is a toxic relationship. I’m pregnant, I could just see things very clearly, so I was like, I’m done with that. The only time I have real fun is when I’m with Kandi or Cynthia and I’m relaxed. I know that they’re my real friends.
I know that you were able to make amends and get along well with Porsha too, though. It’s been nice to watch. I know you said for Marlo and NeNe, they’re toxic, but if you could forgive Porsha for assaulting you, could it ever be possible that you could forgive them for what they’ve said or done, too?
No, because that was immaturity and frustration and a lot of things. That’s different from a core of who you are and your character. For me, once I see you for who you are, you have to believe people. So, I can be cordial, but no, I’m not interested in being friends with anybody like that.
Do you have any regrets, though I know how you feel about Marlo, about coming to her wig launch with a band and your hair line?
My regret is that I couldn’t get my cheerleading team and Beyoncé refused to come. So that would be my only regret.
And like you mentioned, comments from Eva have been mean, not really shade —
Like out of nowhere!
Yeah, so I wanted to know what you thought about her calling you and Porsha “nappy heads” and saying that you’re a “later in life mom”?
“Later in life mom” is an actual fact. What I didn’t like that she said is “over the hill.” Now that’s an insult. The same way she insulted me by calling me “nappy headed,” the same way she insulted me by saying, “I don’t know the color of her eyes.” It’s like, why are you doing all of that? I’ve never said anything to you nasty and this is all coming from the fact that you didn’t want to bring your kids around me because of issues you had made up in your mind about me. So now you’re just insulting my character and me as a mom. That’s a low blow. That’s below the belt and there’s no way you can explain your way out of that. I think Eva has to do some real soul-searching and just try to figure out where that comes from. You don’t get to call a brown skin girl nappy headed. Out of all of the things that we have been told, you know, “cotton picking, nappy headed, darkie,” all of that stuff, you don’t get to call me that being a light skin girl with light eyes and straight hair. So you need to figure out where your colorism is coming from and the fact that you’re perpetuating this hate, stemming from slavery. So that is what she needs to educate herself on and figure out how to make those things right with me.
It wasn’t a good look at all.
No. And it’s not her only time making references to color and hair and all of that, so you can not tell me the girl doesn’t have issues.
We’ve seen what’s going on with you and your husband Marc, and I wanted to ask you why it’s important for you to keep your rings on after announcing your separation and with everything we’ve seen on the show?
I think in my mind, where I am today, where my mental state is today, I am not divorced and I still feel like if my husband’s heart is in saving his marriage, then it could work out. So that’s why I wear my ring. And if it ever gets to a point where I don’t feel that way anymore, then that’s when I’ll take it off.
Are you guys going to connect while you’re in New York City? I know his restaurants are here.
Yeah, he’s with my child, well, our child [laughs]. He’s with Brooklyn right now and everything is cordial between us. He’s not the way you see him on TV. He’s been very sweet, very kind and that’s all I was ever asking for no matter what we’re going through. You have to still be respectful and kind to your mate.
Speaking of him, you had a moment this season where you stated that you don’t let men who are not Marc hold Brooklyn. There was a lot of confusion about that.
Here’s the thing, Marc has nothing to do with that. That was me, and it was an on-camera thing. So, if Marc had never appeared on camera holding his own baby, I felt some kind of way having another man on camera holding her. That’s all it was. The guy is actually our stylist. He’s styled for Marc, he’s styled for Brooklyn when we did our PEOPLE Magazine shoot. He’s a lovely man, so it had nothing to do with him. It was just, on camera, I did not like the visual or the optics of another man holding him when you’ve never seen my husband holding my baby on camera.
You’ve had plenty of experiences in Hollywood and in popular music videos with Nas and Jay-Z before joining RHOA. You came in, you were a beauty queen, you are beautiful. Did you ever have casting couch instances when going after these opportunities where people were inappropriate with you?
Oh yeah, but I think it mainly happened before I was a beauty queen, though. When I was modeling there was a lot of crazy stuff that was happening. Here in New York, being young and gullible.
But Hollywood was good to you?
Hollywood was fine! I never had a casting couch situation. I was always a girl who came in, did my job and then went home. I was never, in my opinion, pressured or anything like that for a job.
And lastly, what has it been like to see, as a former Miss USA winner, so many Black women winning pretty much every major pageant right now?
World domination! We are ruling the world right now! So we have, of course, in my Miss Universe family, it’s Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. So those are like the top three of the Miss Universe organization. Of course, Miss America and then Miss World, those are the top five pageants that actually have, I would say, respect. They have weight, it’s a part of history and a part of our culture. I just feel like, the first time in history for this to happen and to finally be recognized as Black women and Black women with natural hair and natural beauty and none of them, in my opinion, look like they have succumbed to the pressures of I have to do this, “I have to have a big butt, I have to have breasts, I have to have straight hair down to my waist” — none of that, which I love! It just makes you so proud to be uniquely your own and proud to be a Black woman.
Global beauty! Global domination! In my time, I fought as a brown skin girl. I’m the first brown-skinned girl to win a beauty pageant, a national title. And so for me, it was always important to have our darker hues recognized, and I look at us, we have from your cocoa to your caramel to your chocolates, it’s just amazing. It’s important for other little Black girls to see that they can love themselves for who they are.