Despite announcing her exit from The Real Housewives of Atlanta in June 2015, NeNe Leakes couldn't stay away for long. And this Sunday, January 17, the RHOA alum will be stopping by to hang out with the ATL squad. But before they were willing to welcome her back with open arms, they first had to come to terms with her decision to leave.
"I was in shock," Porsha Williams told The Daily Dish. "I mean she's an original and it's kind of like, 'Dang, if NeNe's not coming back I'd better like really do a good job this season'."
However Kandi Burruss was skeptical of NeNe's choice right from the start. "I was like, 'Yeah, right. She's coming back.'" Skepticism aside, Kandi, like Porsha, knew that everyone had to step up their games following NeNe's departure. "My whole thoughts were, 'OK, cool. How are we going to make the show better?' Because, for me, it's never about one person. This show is not about one person, it's about the group. And I think people fail to realize that until they actually watch the show and it's good."
Not that NeNe has been sitting around twiddling her thumbs since saying goodbye. She's kept busy with various hosting gigs, including a spot on E!'s Fashion Police, as well as a run in Broadway's Chicago. NeNe refers to that time away as her "getting back to me" era. "I've been doing Housewives, as you know, from the very beginning. I'm the only original left; I'm Atlanta. Honestly, I felt it had become very stressful in Atlanta for me on the cast. It felt like no support from the cast at all. I felt like a little black sheep over there," she said. "Once I was able to do that [and pursue other projects] and I got the call to come back and play around with the girls a little bit, I thought that was kind of fun."
Fans got a little sneak peek of what's to come in a preview (below), when NeNe reunites with onetime BFF Cynthia Bailey, who was all about her return. "She was the beginning of the show," Cynthia said. "I always think it's great when the girls who started this platform come back and be a part of it because without them there would be no us." -Additional reporting by Andrew Herrmann and Laura Rosenfeld