Season 8 of The Real Housewives of Atlanta got off to a rough start for longtime cast member Cynthia Bailey. The season premiere saw the model dealing with the fallout from the video of her husband Peter Thomas speaking closely with another woman at his Atlanta hotspot BarONE. Not long after, things got intense between Cynthia and Porsha Williams during a girls' day out on a boat on Georgia's Lake Lanier, which was followed by an even crazier vacay with the ladies in Miami.
Luckily, things have quieted down and gotten back on track for Cynthia in recent episodes. However, knowing that Cynthia's on-again, off-again friend NeNe Leakes will be returning to RHOA later on this season, we should all expect the ATL to heat up once again.
The Daily Dish recently caught up with Cynthia to get her take on all of this season's drama, whether or not she thinks she'll ever be friends with NeNe again, and where things stand with Peter today.
Things seem to be better between you and NeNe these days. We’ve seen you out and about with her in New York. You came to see her perform in Chicago on Broadway. What is the status of your relationship now?
Cynthia Bailey: We are in a great place. After the reunion, we were in a good place. Now we are in a great place. We’re not back to being besties or anything, but we’re friends. I feel very confident in saying that we’re friends, and we’re starting to talk again on a regular basis. But it’s been a couple of years. We needed that time to just have that time, and I think the great thing about real friendships is that I do think they can always work themselves out, but sometimes you do need some time apart.
We’ve seen you act a little differently this season of RHOA than in the past. To what do you attribute some of the things you did that were out of character for you, such as the confrontation you had with Porsha on the boat on Lake Lanier?
Right. This season, for me, was a little stressful. Peter and I are the only couple that was actually married on this show, so I just always feel like so much pressure in terms of our relationship. It’s always under such scrutiny. We’re strong people, but sometimes it’s just exhausting. And then when you have a videotape, which is not like a sex tape by any means. I mean, it was far from a scandal, in my opinion. I thought it was definitely inappropriate and embarrassing, but not, in my opinion, grounds for divorce. It was a big deal. It was a big deal. You know, it was tough getting through that and having to deal with it in real life and then having to deal with it on social media and just in public. So I was dealing with that. And I was also dealing with, you know, I have my Cynthia Bailey Eyewear line, and it takes a lot of work. I’m already busy. My eyewear line is the lead-out to my accessories empire that I’m building. I just kind of have a lot going on, so I just kind of need my personal life and my family life to be right, so when something gets crazy it just kind of messes up my whole flow.
So I was a little stressed out. When you’re around the girls you always try to have your game face on. You never just really want to be a hot mess. And, you know, I was going through some things. And I think after a couple of drinks, several drinks on the boat, I had a little breaking point. A trigger was hit, and it exploded. Looking back on the show was worse to me than what actually happened. When I watched it, I just thought, "Oh my God. This is horrible. I couldn’t." I was very uncomfortable watching it, and I definitely felt like in that moment I overreacted. The main thing is I accepted full responsibility for my part, and I’m good with that.
You were so open with your marital issues with Peter this season. Why did you decide to open up like that on the show?
Peter and I have been together for eight years and have been married for five of those years, and I’m just at a point in this relationship and in my life. It is what it is. Take it or leave it. I feel like relationships are complex. Marriages are not easy. There’s always ups and downs. Any of the marriages I look at where they’ve been married for 15, 20, 30, 40 years, they’ve all been through stuff. They’ve been through hell and back, usually. I just feel like this is us. You know, this is us, and we’re not perfect, and we’ve never portrayed ourselves to be perfect or our marriage to be perfect, and take it or leave it.
After that very emotional discussion the two of you had on the show earlier this season, why did you decide to move forward and work through your issues at that point?
When we had that conversation on the show, Peter and I, prior to that, there wasn’t a lot of effective communication. We were really in a bad place. And to be very honest, I don’t think either one of us thought we were going to make it. I felt like that was one of the times during everything we had going on where I really felt like he really talked to me, and he was really vulnerable and honest. It worked because I really heard him and I believed he wanted to try and give this thing another go.
My thing is, when you are in a marriage, you really want to try and make it work. Now if it just can’t work, that is fine. I have no issue getting a divorce. But I really wanted to walk away from this feeling like I gave it my all. I don’t want to walk away feeling like maybe if I’d have given it one last shot when he had that really deep conversation with me, we could have made it. I don’t want to live my life wondering what if. So I need complete closure if it ends, and I need to be completely happy if we stay.
What was it like for you to watch all of these moments with Peter that you experienced in real life back on TV this season?
It’s never easy to watch any of the stuff back. We live it in real life, and we deal with it in real life. And then when we watch it on the show, it’s almost like it’s happening again for the first time. It’s like the scab is pulled off the wound and then we’ve got to deal with the whole thing again, so it’s never easy. Well, this is my sixth season on the show in terms of my life on the show. I’m getting a little tougher and less sensitive and just coming to face the fact that not everyone’s going to like me or like my relationship. I’m OK with that. Before it was like, "Oh my God. Why do they feel that way? Like, I’m trying so hard to do everything right." I think as you get older, you realize that you just have to live your life, and no one really can judge you about your life other than God. Once you are good with that, then it’s just your opinion. Opinions are like buttholes. Everyone has one.
How are things between you and Peter today?
Things are better, a lot better. We’re still taking things one day at a time. He’s still spends a lot of time in Charlotte. I spend most of my time in Atlanta and New York, so it’s kind of like a long-distance marriage, long-distance relationship. We’re busy working on our businesses, and we have to be. We have goals. We have plans. We want to retire at a certain age. So we kind of have to get it in now. So it’s a sacrifice that we’re making to be apart, but I think ultimately, if it’s gonna work, it’s gonna work. But we have to do what we have to do.
What did you think about how your fellow RHOA castmates felt about Tammy McCall Browning?
I think [Tammy's] great. I’m like, hey, there’s no judgment zone here. Quirky, weird, whatever you’re working with. I think she’s smart. I think she’s funny. I’m good. However, I thought it would be a little interesting how she integrated into the group because this can be a bit of a tough group. Most of the girls thought she was a little weird. They just didn’t really connect with her, I’ll just say that. When you first come into the group, I think it’s hard to make a connection immediately. I don’t want to say she didn’t get a chance to really hang out with everybody one-on-one, really get to know her. It’s hard when you just get thrown on the boat with girls and you’re like, "OK, let me just be myself," and they’re looking at you like you’re crazy the whole time. Yeah, they thought she was a little weird. I prefer to call her a little quirky, just kind of doing her own thing, and I’m good with it.
So it seems like you felt a little responsible for what happened with her in Miami.
Yeah, I invited Tammy to Miami. I thought that would be a more relaxing situation to kind of get to know some of the other ladies. It was great. Everything was really great. I think, actually, some of the ladies really got to get a better feel for her and actually liked her, so I was happy about that. And then the little incident happened with her nephew and then everything just went kind of crazy. So it kind of started off on the right foot but didn’t end really on a good note. But thank God she was OK in the end. Miami was the do-over for Lake Lanier. The do-over worked for me, but I almost feel like we need to do the Miami do-over because it ended so crazy.
And how was that?
Yes, over the holidays I got a chance to be in New York. I went to see NeNe in Chicago. We hung out there, and once we got back to Atlanta, I laid kind of low, just rebooted, chilled, caught up on some movies, that kind of thing. But I did get an opportunity to hang out with NeNe and Sheree, and Derek J was there as well. We all went to dinner. It was just one of those, "Oh, we’ve got to do something. The new year’s going to happen." NeNe was getting ready to go to New York, and I knew I was coming up a couple of days later. So we just went to dinner. It was not that big of a deal, actually. We posted it, went to dinner, had a good time. That’s that.
Do you and Peter have any new year’s resolutions moving forward as a couple?
Yes, our new year’s resolution is to try and stay together as a couple, first of all, to stay married, happily, and to just be better as a couple. Be better as husband and wife. You can always work on yourself and your relationship, of course. And also, we are actually trying to be healthier this year. He got really in his feelings when I said I wasn’t attracted to him with his clothes off. He got really upset about it, actually. I think his feelings were really hurt. And Peter’s so tough, I didn’t think he would be that sensitive, but it kind of hit a spot. It inspired him to get it together, get his workout on. He lost some weight. After the conversation, I said I hold myself to the same standard, make sure I keep it together as well. It kind of inspired us in a way. First he’s mad, and then he was inspired. So it kind of worked.
Being healthier is good. We’re both getting older, and we just have to take care of ourselves, and with our busy schedules we forget. I don’t look at myself and be like, "Oh my God. I’m getting so much older. I’ve got to make sure I make my doctor’s appointments. I’ve got to make sure I’m taking all of my vitamins." Running around the city for years as a model, like I just ate whatever. I wasn’t super healthy. I just worked and got a free pass for a long time. Now we’re at a point where I’ve got to make sure to take care of myself, and he has to take care of himself as well.
Well, first of all I think it’s sometimes a little tricky to do business with friends. It just is. Sometimes, it works out, but a lot of times it doesn’t. I think it’s just kind of a principle thing for Todd at this point and maybe even for Phaedra, to be honest. I don’t think it’s going to kill Phaedra to pay him whatever she owes him. I think she’ll be just fine. I don’t think she doesn’t have it or anything like that. And I don’t think Todd is going to be homeless if he doesn’t get the money. So I don’t think it’s that kind of situation. She has it. He wants it. If he provided a service to me, I would pay him for the service. It just is what it is, just to prevent this kind of drama, if for no other reason, then I think you should pay for people for what they do for you. But I think it’s just gotten to a point where when I look at it, it’s just the principle of the situation. I did this. You’re supposed to pay me, so just pay me. That’s it. And I think she’s looking at it like, "Well, I didn’t get the finished product," whatever it is. But I think it’s something that hopefully will be resolved.
I think it’s unfortunate that it’s kind of filtered over into Phaedra’s relationship with Kandi [Burruss], because like my relationship with NeNe, I felt like that was a strong friendship as well on the show, and I would hate for something that can really be resolved to really break up that friendship. I’ve been down that road, and good friends don’t come easily. If you can save your friendship, then I think it’s worth it.
Do you see parallels between what happened between you and NeNe and what's now going on between Kandi and Phaedra?
To some degree, yes, just mostly when I think of the group. My friendship with NeNe was always really tight, and Kandi and Phaedra were always supportive of each other as well. So I definitely look at that friendship like, “OK, these girls are solid. This friendship is solid.” We’re all different, but I definitely think their friendship was one of the friendships I looked at like, "All right, these girls have each other’s back."