NeNe Leakes and Cynthia Bailey’s friendship feud came to an end on Sunday’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, as the two met and agreed to put their differences behind them and move forward in peace — even toasting to “new beginnings.”
It was a long time coming for the reality stars, who have been slamming one another in the press and on social media since their bond fell apart after last season’s finale.
Their separation had caused so much tension, they had barely been able to be in the same space together, though that will hopefully change now.
“There is a sense of relief, because we have so much history with one another,” Leakes, 52, told audiences, after their talk. “We took one step, but I’m sure we can take two, we can take three. It can only get better. So I feel like it was all worth it.”
“No matter what I go through with NeNe, we were friends. I’m always going to have love for her and wish her well,” said Bailey, 52. “How do you just stop loving somebody and caring about somebody, whether you were friends or not?”
So how did Leakes and Bailey get there?
It started when Leakes decided to send Bailey some hors d’oeuvres to congratulate her on the opening of her newest business, the Bailey Wine Cellar. In response, Bailey sent Leakes a thank you note and an invitation to have a glass of wine there and talk through their problems.
Both came into the meeting with hurt feelings, but a desire to put the pain behind them.
“It really sucks to be in this place with NeNe. I’m not concerned about us being the best of friends again, but I can’t stand walking around knowing that she hates me,” Bailey said. “This has been a long time coming for us to sit down and have a conversation. I feel like we deserve to at least have a mutual respect for each other.”
But before they could do that, Leakes had to confront Bailey on why she had called her “a toxic friend,” something Leakes felt was unfair considering all she had done for Bailey.
“This is somebody I considered to be a sister, and I felt she was out saying I was a toxic friend,” said Leakes. “‘Toxic’ is heavy because I thought I was a good friend to Cynthia. So I thought that was a stretch. I thought the word was nasty.”
Bailey owned up to the comments, explaining that she understood the word was harsh but that she said it out of frustration and retaliation.
“When you are a friend, you are an amazing friend,” she told Leakes. “When things go left, then you can be very closed, you’re very quick to shut people off, pretty much close people away. When I made that statement, you had said something things, I responded to some things, we both had said a lot. Maybe toxic was a little strong, but I felt like the last time that we were together, I was trying to explain a situation to you and I felt like you were completely closed to hearing it. And then I actually saw you saying things about me that I didn’t like. … You have said I was weak and insecure, which is not true.”
That didn’t sit well with Leakes, who said she felt she was justified calling Bailey “weak” after seeing negative interviews Bailey had given about her.
“You did that and you need to take responsibility to what you did,” Leakes said. “You know me well enough to know that I take my friendship very seriously and I would not be out there purposefully doing something to somebody else.”
Bailey didn’t agree, telling Leakes, “When you get mad at your friend, you’re the first one to try to tear them down.”
How did Leakes respond to that? By digging into Bailey more, claiming that the model has a secret side to her she hides from the public. “You have done stuff that you don’t want people to think that ,” Leakes alleged. “You want people to think that it’s me, that’s the problem.”
Eventually things got so heated that Leakes walked out in tears.
“I think you don’t understand me, and the way you’ve made me feel,” she told Bailey, who went after her. “This thing that you said, ‘I’m a toxic friend,’ it was very hurtful to me. … I think you wanted people to think I was this bad person or this horrible friend and I want to be a good friend. I’m not trying to be a bad friend. And I just want you to know I’ve been hurt by a lot of the things.”
That moment of vulnerability made Bailey realize that Leakes was “struggling to have an accountability or own any of this.” So instead, she took “the high road” and apologized.
“I know that I hurt you,” Bailey said. “I am sorry. … I know I have said some things that were not nice to say. Just give me a hug please. NeNe, I’m sorry.”
“And I’m sorry. I really am, I’m sorry,” Leakes said as they hugged. “What I don’t want to do is hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you and that’s real, I don’t want to hurt you.”
Said Bailey: “You are that person in my life that I just never saw coming. And life is really too short.”
“I receive it,” Leakes said. “And I’m glad you understand how I feel. I do understand how you feel. And I’m glad we had this conversation. I am.”
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.