NeNe Leakes Says Bravo Discrimination Lawsuit Has 'Nothing to Do with Having a Temper Tantrum' for a Show

"I was constantly being retaliated against, being blacklisted, not able to work, being silenced," the former Real Housewives of Atlanta star claimed of her working relationship with Bravo

Photo: Getty

In the wake of her discrimination lawsuit against Bravo, NeNe Leakes is expanding on her claims that she has been "silenced" by the network.

"I've been blacklisted," the former Real Housewives of Atlanta star, 54, told TMZ on Monday. "If you haven't worked in more than three years when all of a sudden you're working and sought-after, then suddenly you're not working, it's being blacklisted. I haven't caused any problems on any sets. Everybody I've ever worked with, I've had a good work relationship with except for this group of people."

On April 20, Leakes filed a formal complaint against the network, Andy Cohen, NBCUniversal and RHOA production companies True Entertainment and Truly Original as defendants, according to documents obtained by PEOPLE.

"NBC, Bravo and True foster a corporate and workplace culture in which racially-insensitive and inappropriate behavior is tolerated — if not, encouraged," the filing alleges.

"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," Leakes' lawyer David DeRubertis said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

DeRubertis did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for additional comment.

nene leakes
Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

"I felt it was the right time a couple years ago, a few years ago," she told TMZ this week of her decision to file at this time. "But I was constantly being retaliated against, being blacklisted, not able to work, being silenced. It was difficult to do."

When it comes to the lawsuit, Leakes said she has one goal in mind: to stop discrimination.

"The goals are to stop discrimination against Black women," she said. "That's just the goal. Nobody wants to go to work everyday as a Black woman with blonde hair and the head of the corporation call you a white woman. So, stop discrimination."

"A white man shouldn't say to a Black woman, 'You're a white woman because you're wearing your hair blonde,' as if it belongs to a certain ethnic group of people," she later added. "It's more than that."

When asked if she's looking for any sort of compensation, Leakes said, "I can't speak on that."

She also called claims she was angling for a new show on the network "so small ... so ridiculous."

"We're talking about discrimination, we're not talking about a show," she said. "It has nothing to do with having a temper tantrum and wanting a show. I never wanted my own show. I mean, I had many opportunities to have one — I did — that's not it. It's discrimination, that's what it is."

2020 MAXIM Big Game Experience
NeNe Leakes. Cassidy Sparrow/Getty Images

In her complaint — which was filed in an Atlanta federal court, Leakes also claims her former costar and friend Zolciak-Biermann, 43, made racist comments for years; however, according to Leakes, she was the one punished after telling executives.

Leakes alleges that executives "did not terminate their relationship with Zolciak-Biermann, nor take any other meaningful action to put an end to her racially-offensive behavior" but instead gave her a spinoff, referencing Zolciak-Biermann's Don't Be Tardy, which aired on Bravo for eight seasons.

Leakes also accused the network of trying to stop her from being vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement at the same time she was negotiating her contract for RHOA's 13th season.

RELATED VIDEO: Bravo Reacts to NeNe Leakes' RHOA Exit: 'Maybe One Day She'll Hold the Peach Again'

"As the Black Lives Matter movement swept our nation, Mrs. Leakes — Bravo's historically most successful Black female talent — should have been embraced by NBC, Bravo, and True," the complaint says. "Instead, NBC, Bravo, and True forced her out of the 'house she built,' denying her a regular role and excluding her from the early season filming that would address the BLM movement. Then, as she pushes back against the discrimination, harassment and retaliation again, they retaliatorily renege on a development deal that was previously on the table as well as any other potential ventures cutting her out entirely."

Leakes is alleging the defendants violated federal employment and anti-discrimination laws and is suing for an unspecified amount to be decided upon during trial.

Leakes starred in RHOA from its debut season in 2008 through season 7 in 2014 and '15. She was a part-time costar for the show's eighth season before returning to full-time status in seasons 10, 11 and 12. She officially left the show after its 12th season in 2020. During her time with Bravo, she also starred in a spinoff I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding, which featured the days leading up to her second wedding to husband Gregg Leakes in 2013.

Reps for Leakes did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. Bravo and Cohen could not be reached for comment.

Related Articles