We’ve gotta give it up for NeNe Leakes. Even after five plus seasons on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, numerous gigs on scripted television, and so much more, she’s still the same open and honest gal we met all of those years ago.
The reality queen sat down with Giuliana Rancic for a one-hour, tell-all special which aired on E! last night, December 16. No topic was off limits and NeNe had thoughtful answers for every one of Giuliana’s questions, no matter how difficult they were. The duo tackled several tough topics over the course of the hour, starting with NeNe’s realization (after a DNA test) that the man she had grown up thinking was her father, wasn’t.
After the DNA test NeNe noted that her relationship with her “dad” Curtis Johnson “totally changed.” NeNe’s mom had abandoned her and her brother when they were young, leaving them with an aunt, so this turn of events was even more devastating. “For me to not have my mom and then me finding out he’s not my dad, it just changed so much about everything.”
And NeNe’s family issues later spilled into her personal life as well. In her 20s, NeNe met and had son Bryson with a man who physically and emotionally abused her for about six years. “The first person to really say ‘I love you’ a lot became my abuser,” she recalled. “He hit me and then later on he would say ‘I love you’ and I thought that this must be what love is.”
NeNe reached her breaking point when this man brought her “out of the house at gunpoint” because she was spending time with friends. NeNe quickly called the police and knew things needed to change. “I cannot do this any longer for the sake of me and my child,” she remembers thinking at the time. Now, NeNe says, Bryson’s dad “acknowledges what he did.”
But even after the abusive relationship ended, NeNe was still struggling. The single mom had trouble making enough money to pay her rent, so she started stripping. After making $1,000 in a single night, NeNe had found a way to pay the bills, and then some. “I was putting my son through private school. I knew how to talk game to get the money from the guys,” she revealed.
NeNe met Gregg Leakes at the strip club, and though she played hard to get at first, the pair were married after just six months of dating. Despite a brief divorce in 2011, they’re now happier than ever.
Did you catch NeNe’s E! special last night? Tell us your thoughts below, and check back later for NeNe’s thoughts on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, her second marriage to Gregg, and more!