NeNe Leakes Sues ‘Real Housewives’ Execs For Tolerating Racist Work Culture
A former star of The Real Housewives of Atlanta is coming forward with a lawsuit aimed at the show’s production company and top executives at its home network Bravo for fostering a racist work environment.
NeNe Leakes accused her white co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann of several instances of racist language used against her and other castmates over their runs on the show and claimed to be the only one to suffer consequences after lodging complaints with the production team.
Defendants in Leakes’ suit include NBCUniversal, Bravo, the production companies Truly Original and True Entertainment, and Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen. Zolciak-Biermann is not named as a defendant in the suit, but several instances of her alleged racist behavior are outlined in it.
Leakes and Zolciak-Bierman both joined the show in its first season in 2008, and each departed the show in 2020 and 2012 respectively. Leakes’ lawyer, David deRubertis, said in a statement: “From the day the series began filming, NeNe was the target of systemic racism from co-star Kim Zolciak-Biermann, which was tolerated by Bravo executive producer Andy Cohen and other executives.”
The suit indeed contains an accusation of a racist remark dating back to the show’s first season. When discussing whether they would attend a barbeque, Zolciak-Bierman was heard saying “words to the effect of: ‘I don’t want to sit around with NeNe and eat chicken,'” which the suit said, “perpetuated an offensive stereotype about African-Americans.”
The suit also accused Zolciak-Biermann of two other instances of racism occurring over the filming of her final season in 2012. First, Zolciak-Biermann called co-star Kandi Burress’ neighborhood a “ghetto,” and another time reportedly called Leakes the N-word after a dispute and falsely suggested she was high.
Leakes’ legal team also suggested that her 2020 departure from the show was retaliation on the part of Bravo for complaining and that they prevented her from speaking about the Black Lives Matter movement. “As the Black Lives Matter movement swept our nation, Mrs. Leakes, Bravo’s historically most successful Black female talent, should have been embraced,” read the suit. “Instead, NBC, Bravo, and True forced her out of the ‘house she built,’ denying her a regular role.”
Leakes is seeking monetary damages to be determined in court.
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