The Real Housewives of Atlanta wrapped its first season with another dramatic episode Tuesday — but fans can’t get enough of the fabulous NeNe Leakes, the season’s breakout star. Before the cast reteams for what promises to be an explosive reunion special (Nov. 25 on Bravo), Leakes stopped by PEOPLE’s New York offices to talk about what’s different about her — and not just her new ‘do (pictured) — since becoming one of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Here, in NeNe’s words, are the five ways the Bravo show has changed her life for the better. — Brian Orloff
• “I have tons of fans who love me and come up to me everywhere I go.”
• “I’ve learned a lot of things about myself. I’m learning to be a little bit more patient. I’m learning to tone certain things down. I’m learning to be not as outspoken.”
• “My business has increased. My foundation Twisted Hearts brings awareness to domestic violence against women in the community. I have tons of reaching out to me wanting to help me with my foundation. Had I not done the show, I would not have this platform.”
• “I have made new friends with the New York Housewives — Bethenny and Jill — and the Orange County Housewives. The one I love the most is Vicki. I’ve learned about my friendships that I’ve had throughout my life, too. There were definitely that I needed to let out of my circle. So, I’m learning to keep my circle of friends very close.
• “I’m not surprised that Anderson Cooper is talking about me! Wouldn’t you talk about me? I’m not surprised. Anderson Cooper is gorgeous. He is THE silver fox, and I just wish he’d come over on this side of the street. And come over here and talk to me! Wendy Williams talks about me every single week. She sent messages to me. She said if she had to be any housewife it would be me. I’m not surprised. She has to change a few of her ways herself. We have a lot of celebrity reaching out to us.” Sara Jaye Weiss/Startraks