What You Never Knew About Kandi Burruss

As one of the most successful housewives of Bravo's "The Real Housewives" franchise, it's been fascinating to see Kandi Burruss ascend to mogul status over the years. Unlike many of her peers in the various series, Burruss didn't inherit or marry into wealth. With a Grammy and platinum albums already under her belt, it was her own talent and grit that brought her to the Atlanta spinoff. But no one would predict what came next for Burruss. Trusting her entrepreneurial instincts, she branched out beyond music and reality television to restaurants and apparel, as well as acting, including Broadway. "So many people are afraid of failure, but not me," she said, via her website. "The only way you're going to be successful is if you're fearless. I try to go into everything with that state of mind."

Now, with even her own day in Georgia, Kandi Burruss is lightyears away from the hip single mom we met in Season 2 of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Learn more about Burruss and how she's been able to make her rise to the top look so easy.

Kandi Burruss was in one of the hottest girl groups of the '90s

Long before Bravo's "The Real Housewives" was in constant rotation on television, Kandi Burruss found fame in the heyday of R&B girl groups on MTV. Discovered in 1990 by Jermaine Dupree, Xscape was made up of local Atlanta teens Burruss, sisters LaTocha and Tamika Scott, and Tameka "Tiny" Cottle, AllMusic writes. Their first gig was at his birthday party, though Burruss recently reflected on another early performance by the group singing En Vogue's "Hold On" on BET's "Teen Summit." "I was 15," she described on her website. "That's me in the purple, holding down the bottom note."

The group's debut album, "Hummin' Comin' at 'Cha," went platinum, and they released two more albums in the '90s. But, eventually, infighting and the typical problems that haunt young and successful groups caught up with them, and they disbanded in the early 2000s. Xscape recently reunited in 2017 after talks of a biopic sent fans into a tailspin, but Burruss told People she doesn't plan to record new music. "It's always drama," she said. "We all think differently when it comes to handling business, or at least, the three of them think differently than me. It's always them three against me, and I feel like I'm always made to be the villain. It's really irritating and stressful."

She's written songs you've definitely sung along to

Kandi Burruss has described herself as a "sponge" while working with Jermaine Dupree on Xcape's first album, learning the ropes as they recorded. "Jermaine was the main writer, and he would allow us to write a little bit here, a little bit there," she told Entertainment Weekly. "I would sit and watch him write sometimes and pick apart what he was doing, and how he would come up with these ideas."

Dupree finally let her start writing music for the group when their second album rolled around, which kicked off her post-girl group career as a songwriter. After Xscape broke up, Burruss went on to write singles for everyone from Whitney Houston to Mariah Carey to *NSYNC. TLC's "No Scrubs" and Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills" from 1999 are among the most popular singles she's credited on. Both tracks were nominated for Grammy awards, and Burruss went on to win the coveted Best Rhythm & Blues Song category for co-writing "No Scrubs."

She reflected on the milestone on V-103 Atlanta, calling it "a major moment for me." But, prior to her win, her day was filled with wardrobe malfunctions, including an ill-fitting dress she hated, "Wicked Witch" makeup, and a hairstyle she cringes over. "It was embarrassing-horrible," she said. In case you're wondering, Burruss keeps her Grammy somewhere she can see it first thing every morning: on the mantel in her bedroom.

Bravo is basically chronicling her life on The Real Housewives of Atlanta

Though Kandi Burruss mostly remained behind the scenes as a songwriter following her time in the spotlight with Xscape, she would let the world into her life again in a more personal (and highly dramatic) way. In 2009, Burruss replaced DeShawn Snow in Season 2 of the saucy "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" spinoff, per Entertainment Weekly. She's kept things interesting on the series for 13 seasons now, branching out into other projects on Bravo as well.

Her first spinoff was 2013's "The Kandi Factory," which followed Burruss mentoring 16 aspiring artists over eight episodes. Next up was "Kandi's Wedding" in 2014, a five-part series that chronicled her quick wedding planning to now-husband Todd Tucker, followed up by "Kandi's Ski Trip" (not to mention her sex-centric talk show, "Kandi Koated Nights"). As of this writing, another spinoff is reportedly in the works about Burruss' restaurant, Old Lady Gang.

So, what's it like to always be on TV? As she shared in an interview with Curly Nikki, one drawback of being tied to Bravo is that her friends on different networks cannot appear on her shows, making filming certain events a headache. But, according to Burruss, the perks are worth it. "What you get from being on the show is exposure for your other businesses," she said. "If you're being smart and you have something you're working on that you can promote or use the show to promote it, then the annoyances don't matter."

She's also doing scripted television

Along with all her various Bravo series and reality guest spots, Kandi Burruss has appeared on just about every talk show as well as competitions like "Celebrity Big Brother" (per IMDb). But did you know she's also made the move to scripted television? In 2011, she told Curly Nikki she had "dreams of acting." Like most things she shoots for, Burruss went after those dreams with gusto.

After landing a couple of guest spots on series and appearing in television movies, Burruss appeared in the HBO hit show "Insecure" alongside fellow Atlanta housewife Porsha Williams, BravoTV reports. She also scored a recurring part on Lena Waithe's series "The Chi," per Essence. "A lot of people didn't take me seriously," Burruss told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, adding that Waithe told her some thought she casted Burruss for publicity.

During this professional transition, acting also came with its own set of challenges. Her role in "The Chi" included a sex scene, which her husband, Todd Tucker, was not happy about. In the end, they watched the episode together, Burruss told Hollywood Life, and he was able to move past it. "I think he thought it was going to be much worse," she said. "If you're a couple and your significant other is grinding and kissing on somebody else. Awkward!"

The singer/songwriter took home the top prize on The Masked Singer

Kandi Burruss proved she still has it on stage when she appeared on the Fox singing competition series "The Masked Singer" in 2020. Over the 17 episodes, Burruss competed in disguise as the character Night Angel, a persona she was completely drawn to. "When I saw it, I was like, 'Oh, I gotta have that one. That's me. That's me all day,'" she told Entertainment Weekly. Her competition included skateboarder Tony Hawk, singers Dionne Warwick and JoJo Siwa, and athletes Barry Zito and Rob Gronkowski.

In the end, it came down to Burruss, singer Jesse McCartney, and rapper Bow Wow, but the judges ultimately crowned the Night Angel champ. She called winning "a boost of confidence" and said she didn't know she was going to come out on top. "Of course, you would love to win. I guess in my mind I wasn't totally sure. I wasn't totally confident about it. You just go in there and do your best."

She's starred on Broadway

Combining her musical prowess with her acting chops, Kandi Burruss pushed her creative boundaries by taking on the stage. In 2019, she did an eight-week stint on Broadway in its longest-running musical in history, "Chicago," playing the role of Matron Mama Morton, BravoTV reports. Her "Real Housewives" castmate NeNe Leaks previously played the part, and, while Burruss was touring with Xscape, lent her a hand in finding a place to stay in New York City, Burruss said on "Live with Kelly and Ryan." Along with the crush of finding temporary housing while on tour, she also revealed she didn't have much time to prep for the opening curtain on January 15. "The tour ends January 7th. Rehearsals begin January 9," she said.

After getting a taste for live theater, Burruss didn't stay away for long, making her return in a different capacity. In 2021, she helped make history by producing the play "Thoughts of a Colored Man," which features Broadway's first all-Black male cast, Entertainment Tonight reports. "It's one of those plays that will pull on your heartstrings. It'll make you laugh. It'll just take you through all the different emotions — when I tell you, our cast is amazing," she said.

The Bravo star is mom to four kids

After 13 seasons on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," Kandi Burruss' family life is pretty well documented. When she began the show, viewers were introduced to her then-grade school-aged daughter, Riley, who Burruss had with her ex-boyfriend, Russell "Block" Spencer (per Madame Noire). She later became stepmom to daughter Kaela when she married Todd Tucker, according to Essence. The pair had two more children together, son Ace and daughter Blaze, who was born via surrogate in 2019.

Burruss opened up to People about her decision to have a child via surrogacy after uterine surgery left scar tissue that would inhibit carrying another child. Though Burruss felt some degree of guilt and found harsh opinions about her decision from family members upsetting, she ultimately said she "wouldn't change a thing" and called it the "best decision" the couple could have made.

Burruss' blended family, including Mama Joyce, a prominent figure on "The Real Housewives," is very much accustomed to life in the spotlight, allowing them to keep things real when the cameras are rolling. "My family, they're very open and they say anything in front of the camera — they don't hold back — so you never know what they're going to say," she told BravoTV. "It's very different from the ladies on 'Housewives'!"

She's not shy about her sensual side

It quickly became apparent on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" that Kandi Burruss was very comfortable opening up about her freaky side. Outside the series, she started a web series to talk candidly about sex and relationships called "Kandi Koated Nights," which eventually got picked up by Bravo. She and husband Todd Tucker are executive producers on the show, and he warned that people would get a side of Burruss they hadn't yet seen. "Nobody is more direct about the bedroom than my wife, the queen, Kandi Burruss," he told People. "America is not ready for what is coming. Buckle up."

She also launched an adult shop called Bedroom Kandi, which sells sex toys and other adult merch. In 2012, she branched the biz out into a multi-level marketing gig, so fans could sell her products door to door or at Avon-like parties. "With Bedroom Kandi, no need to go out, we will bring the party to you and your girls," she told TMZ. According to Burruss, her most popular product is her Kandi Kisses lipstick vibrator. "It can sit on a table and nobody would have any clue what it was," she revealed to Us Weekly.

The star has an insane car collection

Some people like to collect coins. Others, Pokemon cards. Kandi Burruss' collection requires a lot more garage space. "I have a ridiculous amount of cars right now — eight cars," she shared with Us Weekly. "I'm trying to get rid of some of them." No, that's not toy or model cars — she has eight actual whips. Burruss said her biggest automotive splurge was, in fact, a hardtop Lexus convertible. "I remember driving and being like, 'Oh, this is it,'" she shared.

But that's not the only luxury vehicle she's sporting. At least one of her cars was a gift from husband Todd Tucker, who surprised her with a Bentley SUV on her birthday in 2019. "I went and got my wife a car because she won't treat herself," he said, adding, "I want her to smile and be surprised this birthday." Burruss certainly did, screaming and laughing when she saw the gift wrapped in a giant red bow and parked in her driveway. Now the question is, where does she keep all these vehicles?

She's a savvy entrepreneur

Kandi Burruss is one of the most successful self-made "Housewives" due to some serious business savvy. She's managed to branch out into several areas beyond her songwriting career by making bold moves. Leveraging her fame from her Bravo series, she's taken risks in the restaurant industry with her chain Old Lady Gang, and, along with Bedroom Kandi, she's launched a children's line, Raising Ace, and luxury boutique, TAGS. "You learn from your mistakes and figure out how to fix what's wrong," she said in an interview with Forbes. "Sometimes people tell themselves they can't do something before fully thinking their ideas through."

Burruss' business philosophy relies on never resting on her laurels. "Never get too comfortable. And do not get settled in the success of today. What's poppin' today is what you worked on yesterday, it's what you worked on last year, it's what you worked on last month," she told Essence. "You have to keep doing stuff to stay current and stay fresh."

Kandi Burruss wants to write books on very different subjects

Though she's already busy juggling her television schedule, music career, and multiple businesses, Kandi Burruss would like to add another feather to her cap as an author. She recently revealed on her vlog (via Bravo TV) that fans have been asking the business mogul to reveal her secrets in a book and that she's open to the idea. She just needs to figure out the semantics. "The question for me is, if I do a book about the business do I want to do the book through a major publishing house so that it can be promoted around the world or do I want to self publish my book so that I can make all the money from it?" she wondered aloud. "And it may not have as big of a worldwide spread but I'll probably make more money."

Along with non-fiction, Burruss is also contemplating writing about her other passions. "I do want to do a book about business, but then I also want to do a fictional series that's more sexually riveting and spicy," she said. And if anyone were to dare mix the two genres, perhaps Burruss could pull it off.

She considers her brother her guardian angel

When Kandi Burruss was just 15, her older brother, Patrick, died in a car accident. The incident had a profound effect on the teenager, but Burruss had a deep feeling since that he never really left her and has always looked after her. "I know in my heart of hearts, whether it's true or not, he's my guardian angel," she told The Grio. "I have accomplished so much and so many great things have happened to me after his passing."

She remembered his belief in her — and that she and Xscape could make it in the industry — which, in turn, boosted her own confidence. "He was the best big brother that anyone could have! I love & miss him so much!" she captioned under a photo of him on Instagram in his football uniform.

Burruss clarified to The Grio that his death didn't need to happen to drive her success, but she's felt him guiding her along the way. "If he were here, I know he would say 'I told you you had what it takes to make the pros,'" she said.

LL Cool J once gave her financial advice

Having started in the entertainment business as a teenager, Kandi Burruss tried her best to avoid the pitfalls that come with getting rich while very young. Luckily, Uncle L had her back. In an essay for Refinery29, she revealed that, at 19, she was on tour with LL Cool J when he gave her some sage financial advice. "He told me 'Always have at least one car and one house that you own. Every time you make some money, put extra towards your principal.'" She further broke down his thinking with examples. "I don't care if it's only $500, put an extra $50 towards your principal. If you got a check for $5,000, put $1,000 towards your principal if you can. Try to knock down the principal so you can cut the years off your loan."

Burruss took his advice to heart, paving a way for her to support herself as a single mom. "And I listened to LL: I added up my interest and principal and did my best to pay it off as quickly as possible."

That's some sound advice she's likely passed on as well!