Marlo Hampton on Feeling Drained From the Drama of 'RHOA' Season 15 and 'Activating' Kandi Burruss (Exclusive)
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Marlo Hampton feels drained after filming season 15 The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
"Mm, mm, mm... the season drained me," she cracks to ET, imitating her own would-be catchphrase from a season 14 group trip that's gone viral as a sound on TikTok.
"It did drain me," she reiterates. "In the beginning, for sure it did. There were a lot a lot of alliances, it drained me."
There's a sort-of clear cast divide headed into the season premiere on Sunday night; Marlo's at odds with both Kenya Moore and Kandi Burruss, even though she promised Kandi at the season 14 reunion that she'd back up her promise to do better with action this time around.
"I think I made great on that, I really did," she offers, with co-star Shereé Whitfield's eyes going buggy as she sits beside her.
"I made great on it," Marlo continues. "Like, to be honest, Shereé, I'm not sorry about anything this season with her. It's something, when you watch, it was close to home and I really can't wait until the viewers see it and see what their opinion is on it. This was not just us, oh, talking about sugar momma or this or that; this was something that hit close to home, and I just stand firm on it. I'm not changing how I feel about it."
As the ladies filmed last year, rumors began circulating on gossip sites that Kandi brought up Marlo's criminal history on camera, including one incident in which Marlo slashed a woman's face with a knife. That woman reportedly took her own life after the altercation.
"Our biggest fight was bigger than that," Marlo clarifies, "but I mean, majority of all the girls always try and use my history against me, and I'm just letting them know: I'm not there anymore. So, I need you to know that that was my past, this is my future and if you can't accept that, kiss my new edges."
"By now of 10 going on 11 years, the viewers know Marlo," she adds. "What you see is what you get. I'm authentic; I do say some mean things sometimes, and I'm working on that -- that's why I have a life coach now! But I mean, what you see is what you get, and the only thing I can do is focus on bettering myself, being around girlfriends who support me and tell me when I'm right or wrong."
Marlo takes credit for "activating" Kandi this season, saying she brought back "red head Kandi," a reference to the fiery hair the GRAMMY-winner sported in her early seasons on RHOA.
As for her other on-screen foe, Kenya, Marlo says "there's no hope" for them finding friendship in the future. Things go to a near-physical place for the two this season, with Marlo banging on Kenya's door on a cast trip and screaming her middle name, Summer, repeatedly to get the beauty queen's attention. Marlo also claims to have dated Kenya's new love interest, entrepreneur Roi Shlomo; Kenya says she's lying.
"I didn't date him, I went on a date with him," Marlo explains, "and I do have the DM."
"I cannot wait until that moment comes up, because they made such a huge deal!" Shereé chimes in, teasing the on-camera reveal. "They were quiet as a church mouse about that DM."
"I screenshot before someone could delete it!" Marlo laughs. "I have the receipts."
While Marlo didn't go on to date Roi, she is dating. Viewers will see a blind date turn into something more as the season progresses.
"I mean, it's going good," she says of the new romance. "He's nice looking. He's nice and he's tall, so right now I'm just having fun. I'm smiling every time I'm with him."
"Shereé has coached me through this: just enjoy the moment, Marlo," she continues. "Have fun, 'cause I'm one who overthinks everything like, OK, are we gonna be together in five years? Well, when are we gonna move in together? Or, what are we doing here? So I'm just having fun. I just don't want to get my feelings hurt, because one thing with me: when I give, I give my all."
"You know, you've had the boys four years, you've been with them full-time, it's time to date," she adds, speaking in the third-person about her nephews, Michael and William. She has custody of the teens, the sons of her sister, who battles mental health and addiction issues. Taking on the role of parent at mid-life proved to be a curveball for Marlo. She shocked the cast in season 14 when she took a "break" from the boys, having them temporarily move in with her other sister.
"I needed a break," she says, standing by her controversial decision. "I rushed into it, I just went right into it. didn't have no prepping, no plan, no-- I didn't know what I was doing, so it was like, OK, you gotta get you a village. Call the girls, get their opinions, get a professional. The boys, though, they're doing great. Michael is about to turn 16, so he got his permit and he's ready to drive everything. ... William is just being William, amazing William. He's one of a kind."
Part of Marlo's village is her aforementioned life coach, "Miss Sharon." Her lessons apply beyond parenting, to how Marlo operates in the world at large.
"She's shown me a lot of tools that I never even knew existed," Marlo shares. "Growing up, I didn't have tools. You know, my mom was, 'Do this!' and it's done, you don't have an opinion. 'Sit your a** down!' So, it was just-- it's really interesting, because I had a little hiccup with the boys last year and now it's like, hey, this group of girls, with the boys, it's think before you act. It's, don't let anyone else control your emotions, and if I feel it's a negative place, just walk away from it. So, you will see, there's times when I get in situations and I walk off I'm like, 'Bye-bye!' and then you will see that there is times where it doesn't work and I'm there."
"I've definitely been impressed with the way she's been able to not let them affect her," Shereé offers. "For so long, I feel like she's always let both of them, Kenya and Kandi, affect how you operate. ... So, her being able to be the bigger person, you know, take the high road? I'm really impressed with that."
There's still some journeys down the "wrong road" on RHOA, though. In the trailer, Marlo's seen shouting into a phone at Drew Sidora, proclaiming, "B***h! You are bad-bodied. You are a deranged, wannabe actress."
"That was before the life coach! That was before Miss Sharon!" Marlo exclaims, before confessing that she stands by the insults.
"The acting, she's a little better with acting now," she adds. "She's good with acting, right? In our group, she's not good with acting... but she's good for TV."
"She's good for always acting," Shereé replies. "This is supposed to be reality. We gotta learn how to cut. Like, act in the movies. Don't act over here."
"That's my problem, seriously," Marlo says. "At one point in time, you're gonna see Drew and I kinda bond and then I'm like, 'Look, I don't know when you're real or when you're fake.' I just don't know it and that's the only issue I had with Drew. I don't know when it's sincere or not."
Both ladies were caught off guard by Drew's race to beat her husband, Ralph Pittman, to the courthouse to file for divorce after filming wrapped. Cameras went back up to capture the immediate aftermath of the decision.
"I was like, wait a minute! We thought you guys were great," Shereé recalls. "Get the cameras back up and please show us the real."
"It was disappointing, though, because it was so rough in the beginning," Marlo says. "I felt she should have divorced him the first season when we met. Then, I felt he was working so hard with the life coach, and got her a new car and, you know, it was just like, oh, great! And I like the way he was speaking to her at the reunion, and saying 'my wife,' and 'I'm sorry,' so I really was shocked. It blindsided me with them and this divorce."
"I mean, clearly, they talked about some of their issues but, clearly, they made it seem like it was like they pushed passed that," Shereé adds, "and then as soon as we stopped shooting, it was like, they filed for divorce."
Fans can watch it all play out on the new season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, airing Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo starting May 7.
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