"I take care of myself," Drew tells ET over video chat from her Georgia home, responding to Kenya describing her as parched. "I'm a big girl, and it's a shot and I take it for what it is. Sometimes negativity comes in different forms and, right now, it's just coming from a fluffy face."
Drew and Kenya did not get off on the right foot (no pun intended, as Drew was recovering from surgery on her Achilles tendon when RHOA went into production), as seen in last Sunday's episode, where the pair met on camera. Kenya giggled as the show's new "friend of" LaToya Ali made jokes about Drew's wig looking like a cat (Kenya did also tell LaToya to stop making the comments) and joked about Cynthia Bailey, who introduced Drew to the group, finding friends "at the pound."
"I really felt something with Kenya," Drew recalls of the moment. "Like, I didn't know because it wasn't in my face, but I did feel the energy just -- I couldn't figure it out! So, after watching [the episode, it] explains a lot, you know what I mean? Why the relationship ended up -- or ends up -- where it is. Even with LaToya, they never said it to me. So, I just was like, wow. That's really shocking, a pet on my head? Is that what we’re talking about?"
"She was a cute little kitten and I felt good about it when I walked out the door," Drew adds of her wig, which she styled herself as she wasn't getting professional hair and makeup done due to the coronavirus pandemic. "I think all girls can relate to the struggle of COVID and us trying to keep our looks together."
It seems safe to say, Drew and Kenya's relationship will continue to be on shaky ground as season 13 unfolds. While she doesn't know for sure, Drew surmises that jealousy might play a factor in Kenya’s inability to form a friendship with the Step Up star.
"She just didn't take to me the way that I would've expected," Drew muses. "We’re both actresses, and we come up in this industry, so I was surprised by it, but -- definitely -- she didn't welcome me in the way that I thought."
"You know, you can’t get along with everybody and I’m learning that," she adds. "As much as it would have been awesome, because I really did look up to her when I was a little girl, it was awkward to me."
Drew confesses just doing reality TV was also awkward to start. While she's played herself on TV before, she's never just been herself on camera.
"I'm used to script," she notes. "I know what I said and [now I’m] like, OK, this scene here, I’m like, what all did they capture? It’s, like, long scenes at times … [and] that is a little worrisome. But, I feel really good about it because I'm being super open, super real and it’s a journey -- and everyone’s going to witness that. So, as scary as that is, I am truly here for it."
Drew claims Bravo pursued her for years to be on the show, starting back in 2015 when she was due to give birth to her now-5-year-old son Machai. She was going to fly out to Atlanta when she went into labor early, ending any talks. Then, last year, her co-star from the 2015 film Sister Code, then-Housewife Eva Marcille, brought her around the cast when they filmed at Cynthia Bailey's wine cellar opening/surprise engagement party.
"Then, they came back for season 13," she says. "I was like, OK. Like, God what are you trying to tell me? Obviously, this is it and it's meant to be, and I just felt like with everything that I had gone through -- 2020 has been a rough year, I’m sure for everybody, so it was just, like, I have a lot to share and I would never have the opportunity to share it just doing a film or TV. You would never see [me] dealing with so much of my life, so I just felt like it was the right time."
Drew started laying things out for the world to see in her debut episode, as she and her husband of six years, Ralph Pittman, got into a tense argument during their engagement dinner, with Drew pressing Ralph for details on why he disappeared for three days just before she started filming Housewives.
"It unraveled literally with the cameras and I definitely didn't plan that, nor did I want to," she admits. "I wish I could take it back. In that moment, I was super embarrassed, which is why you saw me walk off, because I was like, this is too much. I'm done."
"We’re dealing with our marriage now," she adds. "We’re in counseling and I’m super grateful for that."
While Ralph going MIA may have come off as a shock to the audience, Drew says it wasn’t totally unexpected. She calls her husband "a runner," and clarifies that he’s done this before -- just never for more than a day, which is why it turned into "red flag territory" on TV.
"I got my eyes open, you know?" she remarks. "I'm a woman and of course my mind is going to go to all those different places that our minds go to, which is why we’re in counseling and we're doing the work effectively and I think healthily now."
"Ultimately, we love each other," Drew declares. "We’re committed to our marriage, and as you'll see on this season, things do come out that help us to kind of better understand [each other]."
Drew says she continues to get answers "daily" to questions she has about her marriage, like when she accused Ralph of spying on her with a nanny cam while he was “missing.” It will all come to light as the season continues to air. Reality TV has a reputation for “ruining” marriages, but Drew says she’s not worried about that. Instead, she sees airing out her so-called dirty laundry for millions of people as added therapy for the couple.
"It's kind of like, when you've tried all different things -- like, we tried counseling, you know? I think what I learned is, we didn't stick to it," she says. "We tried arguing, we tried, ‘Well, let's separate…’ We tried all those different things and when you get to this point you're like, what else do we have to lose? This is something we haven't tried, which is putting it out there being able to see ourselves in a real, true light and also being committed to counseling."
Drew says she's most excited for the viewers to see more of her home life, getting to know her three kids -- Josiah, Machai and Aniya -- and her mom, Pastor Jeanette. There’s also a lot to come with the group. Fans will see Drew bond with her "ride or die" Porsha Williams, whose work to amplify the Black Lives Matter movement she praises and, of course, there’s "stripper-gate," the allegations surrounding cast members hooking up with a male stripper at Cynthia's bachelorette party.
"I was shocked to hear the aftermath, because I always thought what happened at a girls' bachelorette party stayed at a girls' bachelorette party," Drew says. "I was disappointed and I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what they are talking about. I was in my bed, asleep. So, I will be sitting there with my popcorn right along with y’all just watching it, because I have no idea."
"I don’t believe it to be true at all," she says of the rumors floating around.
Along with waiting for answers on stripper-gate, fans will be tuning in each week to see what exactly drives Drew to tell one of her castmates, "Don’t f**k with me! I’m from Chicago, b***h!" She more than hints she's lobs the phrase Kenya’s way.
"In that moment … I was triggered in a way that just sent me there," she teases. "It’s like, where I come from, it’s a line you don’t cross. I am super chill. I pretty much can’t get along with a lot of people. I just like to have fun, and there is a line, but when you cross that line -- and people from Chicago know we have boundaries, and I think with anyone you have to allow people to know how they are supposed to treat you -- and that is that respect line. And when it’s crossed, then all bets are off, and at that moment it’s, like, that’s what happened."