When NeNe Leakes closed her laptop and walked off during the season 12 reunion of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, that was the last we saw of her. Really. It might be the last we'll ever see of her on the show. NeNe Leakes is not part of the RHOA season 13 cast. And while it might be hard to see another Housewives OG depart, it isn't exactly surprising.
Leakes announced she was leaving the show in a YouTube video posted on September 17. "I have been on an extremely, extremely long, exhausting, tiring, emotional negotiation," Leakes said. "There has been a lot of emotion flying from both sides. it has been hard and I have made the very hard and difficult decision to not be a part of Real Housewives of Atlanta season 13." She went on to look back on her time of the show, reflect on the importance of a reality show with a Black ensemble cast, and to thank Bravo and her fans.
But, a little over a week later, it was clear the situation wasn't all good times and happy memories. As reported by Us Weekly, on September 25, Leakes responded to a fan tweet saying that Bravo should give her "the spinoff you deserve." Leakes wrote back, "They don’t think I deserve to work at all in any capacity.” Another fan said that it sounds like "they forced you out" and Leakes said, "They definitely did." She also tweeted at Andy Cohen, "@Andy said he respected Teddi [Mellencamp] for telling the truth about her exit. Well i can’t wait to tell my truths i hope i get just as much respect."
They don’t think i deserve to work at all in any compactly— NeNe Leakes (@NeNeLeakes) September 25, 2020
Soon after, a lot more drama went down between Leakes, Cohen, and talkshow host Wendy Williams. Leakes was upset after Williams appeared on Cohen's show Watch What Happens Live. Williams is a longtime frenemy of Leakes', and she and Cohen discussed Leakes leaving RHOA with Williams dissing Leakes, as reported by People. Leakes posted a bunch of tweets about both of them after that, in which she called Williams "you ole cocaine head" and Cohen "you ole racist." She added, "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."
Things were calmer by October. Leakes told Entertainment Tonight, "I had an offer on the table. I did not think the offer was a fair offer." She added, "I wish them all the best, really, I do. But I don't think that's the place for me." As for her relationship with Cohen, she said, "I've always loved Andy like he was a family member of mine. I worked with him for a very long time so I have a lot of love for him, so, you know, you can't just turn your feelings off because you had an argument."
Leakes not liking the offer she was given is clearly what made the decision for her, but season 12 had already showed her in a lesser role and highlighted her frustrations with the show. Leakes was not in the first two episodes of the season, because of contract negotiations. Then, during a scene where Kandi Burruss and Cynthia Bailey were trying to get Leakes to makeup with Kenya Moore, Leakes walked out. She was barely getting along with anyone during the season, and was seen as being on an apology tour with her cast mates. She and former BFF Bailey weren't able to fully mend their relationship. Finally, Leakes left twice during the virtual reunion, not returning after the second time. Season 12 kind of felt like a last chance for Leakes to be full-time, and however the negotiations went, that ended up being the case.
Along with Leakes, Eva Marcille is no longer a Housewife. Burruss, Bailey, Moore, and Porsha Williams are all returning, along with new Housewife Drew Sidora. Tanya Sam and Marlo Hampton will return as Friends and be joined by LaToya Ali.
But while Leakes won't be on the show this season, keep in mind that she has left and returned before. She stopped being a full-time Housewife after season 7, but reclaimed her peach for season 10. While she sounds totally done with the show now, it's still entirely possible that she could come back. And if not, at least we're left with plenty of famous (and infamous) moments. Leakes might be done, but "I said what I said" will live on forever.