In its latest episode, NeNe Leakes joined Tamar Braxton for her Under Construction podcast where the two former reality TV divas talked about the pitfalls and perks of the genre. Amidst the conversation, where they talked about finding stardom on TV, being pushed to their limits, and what their regrets were, NeNe opened up about it taking her “years to figure out who the real devil was” when it came to corporate greed’s involvement in the way reality TV shows go down.
Tamar asked NeNe what she thought the least talked about side effect of being on reality TV was. In her response, NeNe said that when she first stepped onto the scene, she was doing more than entertaining drama on TV.
“The other side of all the perks… I don’t know. I know that when I came out, I did everything. I did scripted television, I did Broadway, I was on the cover of Ebony magazine, the ‘Power cover,’ I was the first celebrity in 30 years to have a residency out in Vegas on Zumanity, appearances, I did appearances everywhere,” she said. “Every single talk show it was possible to do. I co-hosted everywhere for everybody. I just did everything. The flip side of that is, it’s going to come to an end. Either it’s going to come to an end or you level off.”
“The other thing is, you could still be going just as hard as you were when you first came out but that corporate devil is sitting right there,” she said. “It’s a corporate devil that people don’t know is controlling a lot of your career. I did a lot of competition shows. I did Celebrity Apprentice, I did Cupcake Wars. I did a competition show where Gregg and I were cooking for these MasterChef people. Corporate devil is a beast. That’s all I got to tell you. Like you think you’re going on these shows and you’re going to be like ‘I can win.’ Actually, before you even get on the show they already know who the winner is. That’s the corporate devil. It’s a lot that happens behind the scenes that people just don’t know about.”
Later, the two discussed things further when Tamar wondered where the line is between “reality TV” and “reality” itself. NeNe interjected.
“Because reality TV is better than reality. Cause you know, reality TV is a little twisted. That makes more money,” she said. “That is the truth, it makes more money. You know, but it took you years to figure that out didn’t it? Listen, it took me years to figure out why all these girls were coming after me every season [we would’ve squashed something in the background], why some of my friendships were falling apart. It took me years.”
“I was blaming a lot of people and it took me years to figure out who the real devil was,” she added. “When I figured it out though it really crushed me. It really hurt my heart really bad. I was really, really hurt over it. And I was like ‘wow.’ It felt to me like American greed or something. Greedy, just greedy. They will never stop. That’s what happens. It’s sad. It’s a lot and it’s a lot to deal with. So much.”
Both NeNe and Tamar have had their fair share of reality TV woes off-screen within the past year. Following her suicide attempt in July 2020, Tamar seemingly accused WEtv, the network behind Braxton Family Values, of pushing her to be self-destructive due to poor treatment.
Becoming more vocal about her own struggle with the producers of the reality TV hit, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, in June, NeNe seemingly co-signed the idea Andy Cohen should be fired for perpetuating systematic racism. After shedding some tears over the treatment she received and lack of transparency from Bravo execs on the Tamron Hall Show in October, by the end of the year, NeNe was calling on fans to boycott Bravo in solidarity with her and her fight against the network.
NeNe and Tamar’s closeness isn’t anything new. In the past, when things were at their worst with Tamar, Nene came out in support of her friend to share an update and to ask for prayers only days later. The connection between the two definitely comes across as genuine, and their conversation during this podcast really shed a light on how similar their experiences battling the network executives of reality TV has been. Even though it doesn’t seem like either one of them is rushing back to the genre soon, if we’re lucky, maybe one day we’ll get to see the two link up on-screen.