When NeNe Leakes announced that she was quitting The Real Housewives of Atlanta for the second time back on September 17, she said it was the result of an “emotional negotiation.” Shortly after, on September 28, she called Andy Cohen “racist” on Twitter. Now, the reality-television star is endorsing a petition to boycott Bravo amid claims of unfair treatment of Black talent behind-the-scenes. On December 20, Leakes put out a request on Twitter asking to be put in touch with “someone that works in the US Department of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in California, New York, or Georgia.”
The next day, Leakes tweeted, “Y’all ready to start this boycott yet?” on the grounds that “While others were being promoted, BLACK WOMEN who created shows, created genres, built franchise and built networks were being DEMOTED.”
In these tweets from December 21, Leakes refers and eventually links to the “Boycott Bravo TV/NBC Universal” petition on Change.org that was started earlier this summer by “Jinxx, RichBitch, ElakaTV Squad,” who Leakes has since identified as fans. The petition claims that Bravo has not given Leakes fair treatment or adequate compensation for her creative contributions to the network and claims that this is indicative of the industry’s mistreatment of African American women. Addressing Bravo, it reads: “It is also evident that your disciplinary actions are far more stringent when it comes to your black talent.”
On December 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET, Leakes had a discussion with the attorney Ben Crump on Instagram Live, captioned, “Racial Discrimination Against Black Women in the Entertainment Industry.” In this discussion, Leakes clarified that she is calling for the Bravo boycott “because I think it’s a way for us to take a seat at the table and have a conversation with Bravo. What I want from Bravo is for them to sit down with me and my representatives and have a conversation.” Leakes went on to describe examples of unequal treatment and discipline of Black and white talent while filming, telling Crump, “When my white counterpart was on my particular set, there was definitely a difference that I don’t think people always see, because it’s behind the scenes. And if you start speaking about the shows across the board, then there is a great difference.” Leakes said that white Housewives talent “come and go when they want to, they curse out people, they do whatever they want to do. If we curse out anybody, we’re an ‘angry Black woman’ […] They can cuss all day long and they ‘just got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning’.”
Leakes also drew a comparison to the uproar over her grabbing a crew member’s shirt to white Housewives who have gone to jail or how Michael Darby, a white cast member of Real Housewives of Potomac, physically groped a crew member without consent, saying:
“I grabbed my camera man’s shirt. It was never anything serious, ever. He never thought it was anything serious. Listen. I’m on a show. I’m not going to try to change any of that. I should have never touched his shirt or anything… They go to jail, they’re still at work. They grab somebody’s butt, they’re still at work… The treatment is different.”
Vulture has reached out to Bravo and is awaiting comment.