The Real Reason NeNe Leakes Left Real Housewives

NeNe Leakes was on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" from 2008 until 2020 according to IMDb. That means she was part of the original cast of the Bravo show (via Screenrant). Remember those days — when the reality star was best friends with Kim Zolciak?

Of course, Leakes saw her fair share of drama throughout the many years she was on the show, memorably sparring with fellow cast member Sheree Whitfield (via Marie Claire). 

The Atlanta native also clashed with Zolciak on "Real Housewives," although, as recently as 2020, the blonde, wig-loving mom of six said on "Watch What Happens Live," about the status of their friendship, "We're good. We're cool" (via Bravo TV). For her part, Leakes noted, "I've spoken to Kim here and there. We're in a great place. We're always in a great place when we're not working together. When we're working together, we're pulling wigs. But we're good."

Zolciak left the show after season 5, per Variety. In the meantime, beyond the drama, Leakes also left her mark on pop culture with some unforgettable quotes, such as, "Close your legs to married men!" and "I am very rich, b***h!" (via

We'll miss her take on life, but Leakes left "RHOA" for a very good reason — maybe.

It seemed at first that NeNe Leakes left the show on good terms

Leakes announced in September of 2020 that she was leaving "RHOA" on her own terms. "I have made the hard and very difficult decision to not be a part of 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' season 13," she said via a video message (via Deadline). The reality star went on to share that this was no easy decision for her to arrive at.

"I have been on an extremely, extremely long, exhausting, tiring, emotional negotiation," Leakes went on to explain, adding, "There has been a lot of emotion flying on both sides."

Ultimately, the star shared her takeaway from the experience, saying, "I'm just so happy that I can say that I was a part of a genre that opened doors for Black ensemble reality shows."

It's worth noting that Leakes' personal life had been in a bit of turmoil before she decided to leave the show, with her husband Gregg having been diagnosed with cancer in 2018 (via Page Six). His cancer returned after he went into remission, with the former "RHOA" star sharing he was in the hospital as of the end of June of 2021.

Maybe there was more to the story about NeNe Leakes leaving the show

Although Leakes made it seem as though the decision to leave "RHOA" was of her own accord, the reality star later changed her tune, with ET reporting she said she was "definitely" forced to leave. In fact, when a fan asked if producers on Bravo might give the star her own spinoff like Zolciak had with "Don't Be Tardy," Leakes tweeted, "They don't think i deserve to work at all in any compactly." 

Leakes, who briefly left "RHOA" from seasons 7 through 10 per Us Weekly, went on to tweet she planned to share her truth about the situation, and later alleged racism on the part of the show, tweeting, "I was the ONLY BLACK OG. My white counter parts were elevated and given full season episodes EVERY season. Each season i was given less & less. Don't ask me, @ Andy and @ Bravo and ask them why" (via Refinery29).

NeNe Leakes was all over the place with her comments about leaving the show

Clearly, there was tension among Leakes and her castmates at the end of her run on the "Housewives" show, and producers as well, with the star walking out of the season 12 reunion (via BravoTV). Okay, actually she just shut her computer since the reunion was virtual given COVID-19 restrictions.

But why did Leakes feel the need to exit the franchise on such a controversial note? As she shared via social media, she felt she was being cross examined basically, with Leakes noting, "All this and so much more felt like the rules only applied to me and that I was being held to a different standard than others."

As Us Weekly reports, Leakes said many things about leaving, and left fans with mixed messages to be sure, saying at another juncture about the show, "I wish them all the best, really, I do. But I don't think that's the place for me."