NeNe Leakes Sounds Off on the 'RHOA' Virtual Reunion: Why She Walked Off and Didn't Come Back (Exclusive)

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NeNe Leakes would like a raise.

"All they had was to focus on NeNe Leakes," the Real Housewives of Atlanta star tells ET of the show's season 12 virtual reunion. "My check need to be doubled, thank you very much. My check need to be doubled, because the rest of you girls live a false life."

"You're paying all these girls to sit up and talk to me all day, can I get my raise, please?" she asks. "Thank you very much."

The OG star of RHOA claims the full-day virtual reunion shoot, filmed a couple of weeks ago, kicked off with more than three hours of questioning directed solely at her, which came as a surprise to NeNe. She is quick to note that some of her co-stars like to point out that she wasn't in every episode of the season, and yet she found herself to be the focus of the reunion.

"I may have missed episodes, but I did not miss one check -- and they teased me [in] every episode until I showed up," she spouts. "So, for anybody that has anything to say about me not being in an episode, NeNe, don't forget to let them know, honey, you never missed a check and you were teased until you showed up. And if I wasn't needed, they wouldn't have had to tease me, honey. They couldn't have teased Eva and everybody tuned in. Who would have tuned in for that?"

Eva would, of course, be Eva Marcille, NeNe's onetime "little sister" turned adversary on Real Housewives. In March, NeNe told ET that she didn’t feel like Eva "brought it" when it came to the show and should be replaced, a comment that spiraled into an online back-and-forth between the women that came to a head at the reunion.

"I felt like Eva was, you know, scratching to survive," NeNe says, reviewing her co-star's performance at the reunion. "It was like they told her in [a] meeting, like, I can see them now, sitting in the meeting with her and telling her, ‘You've got to step it up, Eva! You need to step it up! I mean, you're on thin ice over here!’ And I think she went in, like, ‘OK, I'm gonna step it up! Every time somebody says something, I'm gonna jump in!’ So, she jumped in every single time."

"If nothing else, she did her best to step up, but we slapped her down so many times," NeNe quips. "She should be tired! She should be tired."

That "we" would be NeNe and Porsha Williams. NeNe says the pair didn’t plan to team up before the reunion, but once it got started they realized it was them vs. the rest of the cast. So, when NeNe made history with the first-ever virtual walk-off, she went to the restroom, like she said on the show, and called up Porsha.

"When I closed the computer and they ended up going to lunch break, I called Porsha. That was the first time we talked about it," NeNe recalls. "I called her and I said, 'Porsha, I gotta tell you, girl, you are in there, you are killing it. When we go back, you just sit back and be quiet and let me take it from there.' We decided we're gonna tag team their a** and let's go! And I think the people were here for the tag team."

"We were knocking their a**es out!" NeNe exclaims, pointing out that Porsha nearly stole her "queen of reads" throne with a line about Eva's breasts looking like they were "social distancing."

Speaking of reads, eagle-eyed viewers clocked that NeNe appeared to have some clapbacks scripted on notecards at the reunion. NeNe confirmed the speculation on Twitter after part one aired, telling her followers, "YES my reads are written down and rehearsed! REMEMBER I’m elderly, menopausal and have nooooo f**kin memory! In my younger days i sat on couch and read you b***hes from the top of my WIG and have the most ICONIC READS TO DATE!"

"For me, it's just like Andy [Cohen], he has all of his questions written down and I wanted to not forget to ask questions," she explains to ET. "So, it's not about reading. It was about, I didn't want to forget to ask certain questions because a lot of times, when I'm with these girls and then I leave, I’m like, dang! I forgot to say that. Oh, I wish I would have said this, or I wish I’d had asked that question."

NeNe says her pre-written reads and questions were a new tactic, special to the virtual setting.

"Nobody can ever talk about my reads," she notes. "I've always sat on the couch and read everybody from the top of my wig, so they can say whatever they want to say. They've been read for years -- for many years -- and I have iconic one-liners that are out there, and I didn't even try to make it anything, it just became something big. The list goes on and on, honey. Girl, bye. The thirst is real. I'm very rich, b***h. Bloop. Close your legs to married men, trash box. I mean, I can go on and on. The door is closed. On and on and on, I've said all those things off the top of my wig."

NeNe says, personally, bloop is her favorite "read" of all time, because it can be reused over and over again.

NeNe Leakes shows off her pre-written reads and questions for the 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' season 12 reunion.

NeNe Leakes shows off her pre-written reads and questions for the 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' season 12 reunion.

ET

NeNe actually had her stack of notecards handy during her video chat with ET, sharing some still-to-be heard clapbacks she used during the taping, which may air in parts two and three of the RHOA reunion.

"I called Kandi [Burruss] 'number two,'" NeNe shares, implying that she is number one. "'You're number two, just want to make sure we remember to tell you that. You're number two, honey. Don't want to get confused.'"

Fans will see NeNe and Kandi go head-to-head in the upcoming episodes. The ladies ended the season on an OK note, but have been embattled in a bit of a social media showdown while isolating at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a bit of a winding road to go down, as neither lady can seem to agree on what the issue at hand is; that's seemingly why things get so heated between them at the reunion.

"There were people who normally wouldn't get all, 'Rawr! Rawr! Rawr!' were able to get 'Rawr! Rawr!' because they were sitting at their house," NeNe says of the virtual arguments. "Oh, yeah, they were acting like cyberbullies."

In a teaser for the upcoming episodes, Kandi tells NeNe, "I'm embedded in your motherf**king brain, b***h!"

"I can't really remember that much between Kandi and I," NeNe says. "She's so boring. So, I don't remember a whole lot that happened between us. I know she said whatever she said, ‘I'm embedded in your head,’ but honey, you can never be embedded in my head. You got to be way more entertaining to be embedded into anything over here. I'm actually embedded in her head and her friends’ head, because I'm all that they talk about. So, I don't remember it being that much."

While NeNe admits she found "some resolve" with the women at the reunion, it seems safe to say things aren't headed in a positive direction for her and Kandi.

"I think Kandi wanted some smoke with me, she created it herself," NeNe declares. "You got it, girl. Miss Boring. Snoozefest."

NeNe will also go toe-to-toe with her season-long partner-in-argument, Kenya Moore, on the reunion. In teasers, it appears that Kenya implies there's been infidelity in NeNe's marriage that she needs to address publicly. Ironically, it's been Kenya’s marital issues with her now-estranged husband, Marc Daly, that have been a through line of the season.

"That's OK, she needs to worry about her own husband," NeNe fires back. "That's her problem right now. If she focused her time on Marc Daly, he probably would be with her! [My husband] Gregg ain't going nowhere. We've been together for 23 years. If he cheat, if I cheat, we still together. We still are the Leakes, honey! We are thick as thieves. Bye, girls and boys! Nothing you say will destroy this over here. We will do our own destroying. Bye, bye."

NeNe says she’s "done" with Kenya after this season; she’s ready to get off the carousel ride that is their relationship. They just go round and round to get nowhere.

"I feel like, there's nowhere for me and Kenya to go," she laments. "Like, at this point, it looks stupid to continue to argue. I’ve extended olive branches to her, because -- as people love to say -- someone has got to be the bigger person, right? So, I've extended olive branches. I've apologized. I've agreed to move on. There's nothing else that I can do. I've done everything that was asked of me to do, I did."

"There's no reason for me to keep walking around arguing with her," she continues. "The only reason why she wants to have an argument with me is just to have her name lighted up with mine. My name is such a good name, you know she wants her name printed right next to mine, honey, OK!"

NeNe proclaims that the show needs a "big shake-up" in order for it to move forward and not repeat the season that just ended.

"Like, a couple of these girls need to move to ‘friend’ or move on out, or wherever they’re gonna go, go on, whether I’m here or not. It doesn’t make a difference," she says. "If I leave, I guess it'll give them some room to talk to each other. I don't know, but I feel like a peach-holder -- at least two peach-holders -- need to exit this season."

"Peach-holders" are the main cast members of the show, the women who hold peaches in the series' opening sequence each week. 

The cast of 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta,' season 12.

The "peach-holders" on season 12 of 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta.'

Bravo

One person NeNe is not interested in seeing join the cast, though, is Yovanna Momplaisir, who was initially introduced to the show as a friend of NeNe’s. The two fell out over "snake-gate," the drama surrounding an alleged recording of Cynthia Bailey dogging out NeNe, which the group suspected Yovanna made. As shown on the RHOA "Secrets Revealed" episode, Yovanna copped to making up the recording rumor, leaving NeNe to think that the whole issue was resolved. But then, Yovanna showed up at the virtual reunion and apparently changed her story.

"They didn't decide to bring the Cookie Lady, they didn't have Marc Daly to bring, they didn't have Porsha's fiance, Dennis, to bring. All they had was to focus on NeNe Leakes," she says of the surprise, referencing the other side players involved in some of the show’s big moments this season.

"She's thirsty, honey," NeNe adds of Yovanna. "She ain't never been on TV. She wanted to be on here by any means necessary. So, all they had to do was pick up the phone and say, 'A camera will be shining.' and she was like, 'Oh my god! Well, let me get my hair and makeup on and come and show up.' So, she shows up and they got her where she can turn against me. So, I guess they thought it was a good idea."

"I feel sorry for her," she continues. "She will never be a castmate over here and that's so sad, because she has been used and abused. Bye, girl! She should feel very used. I can't imagine Bravo hiring her to do anything. If so, they dropped down 10 levels."

NeNe says her co-stars' focus on her, as she perceives things to be, leaves her drained. It's why she felt the need to slam her computer shut and walk away from the reunion. She actually did that multiple times, she says; and the final time, she simply didn't return.

"The whole reunion is just NeNe. What did you think about part one? Were they asking the questions to anyone besides NeNe? It's NeNe, honey. NeNe, NeNe... to the point where I said to Andy, 'Is there anybody else here, honey? Do you have any questions for anyone else here besides just NeNe?'" she reveals. "Everybody is being paid a check, correct? So, NeNe shouldn't have to carry everybody on her back. Let some of these other girls work for their checks, Andy."

"Like, you have all these girls," she continues, "you decided that you wanted them in all your episodes then, please, make all of your girls work."

Andy also used his power to "mute" NeNe's microphone a couple of times during the reunion shoot, something she found confusing.

"You want to mute me, but I'm the very person that you need to ask the question to," she says with a shrug.

NeNe says she hasn't made up her mind when it comes to if she would return to Housewives for season 13. It's worth noting, too, the network typically doesn't make casting decisions until after a season has finished airing, including the reunion. For her part, NeNe says they would need them to show her the money and respect her mental health.

"I'm doing some therapy and I want to be able to be in a good place," she shares. "And I want to be able to have a friend on the show. That's one of the things that I think is not fair."

RHOA Virtual Reunion

The cast of 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' at their first-ever virtual reunion.

Bravo

NeNe feels like she's alone on an island, with no allies. The majority of her fellow full-time Housewives get to film with family members and confidantes who help them navigate the drama with the main group, like Porsha and her sister, Lauren, and Kandi and her pals, Carmon and Don Juan. NeNe says she doesn’t get the same treatment. Fans might say that Marlo Hampton, an official "friend of"on the show, fills that role for NeNe, but she wants someone completely independent from the rest of the ladies. She'd also be interested in exiting the series for a spinoff, if it felt right.

"It would have to be a certain show, 'cause I've been offered spinoffs, so it'd just have to be the right thing," she says. "Some of the things I've been offered have been silly, or things I just don't want to do. I'm a grown woman, I am not a kid!"

When asked if she would be willing to revisit the highly anticipated, but never-produced, road trip show she and former Real Housewives co-star Kim Zolciak Biermann were set to shoot in 2015, NeNe says she thinks the time for that show has passed.

"I think Kim and I both have grown up a lot," she says. "We're grown, we're adults. It feels weird to me, you know, 40 and 50, we're riding around on a bus around the world, being kids. Like, I don't know, that seems stupid."

Parts two and three of The Real Housewives of Atlanta season 12 reunion air the next two Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo, though NeNe says she won't be tuning in. NeNe's first-ever single, "Come and Get This Hunni," is now available on all music platforms. Listen to the track below:

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