These days, it’s pretty nearly impossible to discuss Bravo TV without mentioning the iconic Ms. NeNe Leakes. Since making her first appearance on The Real Housewives of Atlanta only a short 5 years ago in 2008, NeNe has racked up an impressive set of accomplishments. She leads RHOA to franchise-topping ratings season after season and earns the biggest paycheck of any Housewife, bringing in a cool $1 million per season…plus bonuses. NeNe was voted as one of Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainers of the Year, voted by People Magazine as Diva of the Season and voted by Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch blog as one of fall’s TV: 15 Stars to Watch (2008). She is also the winner of Bravo A-List Award for Fan Favorite and Reality’s Guiltiest Pleasure (2009). Add to that list that she earned roles in both Fox’s Glee and NBC’s The New Normal, was a contestant on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, and had a hosting gig with E! that landed her on the Primetime Emmy’s red carpet (she also hopes to win one someday), and it’s easy to see that NeNe Leakes is a Housewife force to be reckoned with.
NeNe Leakes was born Linnethia Monique Johnson on December 13, 1968 in Queens, New York. Reportedly, she had a middle class upbringing and, at sixteen, began modeling which she continued to do through high school and college. She was a basketball player and a cheerleader in high school before attending Atlanta Morris Brown College. NeNe (unlike some other Housewives *cough* Melissa Gorga…) has been open about her past as a stripper. After becoming pregnant at age 21 with her first son, Bryson, and fresh out of an abusive relationship, NeNe began her stripping career under the stage name Silk. In 1996, while stripping, NeNe met Gregg Leakes, a real estate investor and business consultant. They married in 1997 and their son, Brentt was born in February 1999. The family resides in Duluth, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta.
Once she joined the The Real Housewives of Atlanta as an original cast member in Season 1, NeNe’s star was on the rise. I won’t recap all the accolades listed above (the list is too long), but these days, NeNe is living large. Celebrity Net Worth reports that her net worth is about $10 million.
NeNe and Gregg have had a very visible rocky relationship. In 2010, they separated, and NeNe filed for divorce on April 29, 2010. There has been speculation as to the cause of the divorce and NeNe has all but confirmed that Gregg cheated saying “He was doing things outside of his marriage that he shouldn’t have been.” Since then, the pair has overcome their differences. NeNe and Gregg Leakes reunited and announced that they were engaged in January 2013.
Bravo filmed their wedding planning and ceremony for the spin-off I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding. Their second marriage took place June 22, 2013, after sufficient drama in the planning process, at the InterContinental Buckhead Hotel in Atlanta.
NeNe is known for some pretty awesome catch phrases and is a regular winner of Andy Cohen’s WWHL Gif Of The Day Award. It was hard to pick but here are a few of our favorites:
I’m sure Bravo would agree that they hit ratings gold when they met and cast NeNe Leakes. I’d even go so far as to say that her over-the-top personality played a big part in the success of the Housewives franchise as a whole. NeNe’s often brutal honesty and hilarious one-liners meld to create a reality TV personality that is undeniably likable and endearing. I wouldn’t be surprised if I Dream of NeNe goes on to become a multi-season series and, either way, I’m sure Bravo has big plans for NeNe Leakes.