It’s no secret that Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes has changed up her look, a lot. Throughout the years, she’s switched out multiple hairstyles and up’d her fashion game. She’s even showcased a few of her plastic surgery procedures on the show. However, nothing she does stops the people from taking shots at her weight, height, face, and fake nose.
We first met “good ole “NeNe back in 2008, during Season 1 of RHOA. Mrs. Leakes came on the scene with long blonde weave and loud mouth. Literally, she was always the loudest one in the room.
Back then she and Kim Zolciak were basically best friends. Besides a small feud with Sheree Whitfield, she was friendly with all her castmates. Viewers initially fell in love with her fun spirit and “life of the party” attitude. Combined with Kim, the two were too entertaining to turn away.
But “Fun NeNe” could quickly turn into “Nasty NeNe” when provoked. All the drama was between NeNe and either Kim or Sheree. In the season reunion, she directed her infamous phrase “close your legs to married men” to Kim, taking shots at her relationship with her sugar daddy, “Big Poppa.”
In Season 2, NeNe switched it up her look a little, trading in her long blonde weave for a short, brown hairdo. This look started her trend of predominately wearing shorter hair. But her short hair-do was in competition with newcomer Kandi Burruss.
The two divas got off entirely on the wrong foot, which set in motion seven seasons worth of animosity between them. NeNe continued her on again, off again feud with Kim.
One of the more touching sides of NeNe this season was her efforts to find the man who is her biological father. During Season 1 she explained that had doubts that the man who she always knew to be her dad might not be her father. She put it to a DNA and results showed that he was not her biological father.
However, she journeys to Athens, to meet the man who is actually her father. Throughout all of this, she goes on to write about her life experiences in her book Never Make the Same Mistake Again.
When Season 3 rolls around, NeNe decides to make a lot of changes in her life, which requires a few tough decisions. For one, she’s thinking about divorcing her husband of over 10 years, Gregg Leakes. The two were having issues, especially after a private conversation of Gregg bashing NeNe is released to the world.
Also, NeNe begins to feud with her longtime friend Dwight Eubanks, after he spreads rumors that he loaned Gregg $10,000 behind NeNe’s her back. During this time, Dwight began running around town with Phaedra Parks, who has just joined the show.
Meanwhile, NeNe decides to use plastic surgery as a tool to be happy again. She has work done on her breasts and nose. Her nose is noticeably smaller and more narrow, and her breasts are smaller and perky. She also begins to slowly make her hair color lighter and lighter, until it’s the platinum blonde that we currently see her with.
Also, this was the season that she attempted to mend her relationship with Kim until it fell apart again at the end of the season. However, she was able to make a new friend in model Cynthia Bailey. The two clicked right away and started a very close friendship.
Work-wise NeNe began working at Atlanta news station 11 Alive!, hosting a local entertainment segment. Her first big interview was with music mogul Jermaine Dupri. Once the season wrapped, she went on to star on Donald Trump‘s Celebrity Apprentice with Star Jones and La Toya Jackson.
The competition reality show placed NeNe on another level and put a lot of money in her pockets. She came back to Atlanta claiming to have run to the bank with a “Trump check.” This caused friction between her and Sheree who didn’t like the changes she saw in the new NeNe.
The two fought over a business deal and Sheree accused NeNe of going behind her back to cut her out. It turned from an argument to a full-on attack when Sheree decides to talk about the NeNe she knew before the fame. She claims that NeNe once had rotten teeth, which are now replaced with veneers.
Throughout this season, NeNe begins a professional and personal relationship with he business partner, while divorcing her husband Gregg. She also deals with her eldest son Brett getting arrested. However, good news comes when she travels to Los Angeles to meet with the creators of the hit tv show Glee. Her talents, slimmer look, and new face get her a recurring spot on the show.
The creators of Glee eventually offer her a permanent spot on their new show, The New Normal. The role requires NeNe to spend a lot of time in L.A., meanwhile, she manages to reconcile with her ex-husband Gregg. When Season 5 of RHOA starts, NeNe is an officially a successful actress and is considering moving to L.A. for good. She flies back and forth between Atlanta and L.A. to shoot the show and spend time with her new grandchild.
Her new Hollywood lifestyle has her glowing. The star is now a full-time golden platinum blonde and is dressing the part of a Hollywood actress.
In between all of this and Season 6, NeNe remarries Gregg in a huge ceremony that took place in Atlanta. Cynthia and Marlo Hampton were both bridesmaids. The wedding became a 7-episode Bravo spin-off titled I Deam of NeNe: The Wedding. It chronicled NeNe and Gregg as the planned their wedding and handled some unfinished personal business before say their “I do’s.”
Over the next couple of years, NeNe embarks on a lot of new acting and hosting experiences which include taking part in Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity, appearing on Dancing with the Stars, and becoming a host on E!’s Fashion Police. She also snags a couple of roles on Broadway hits like Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Chicago. These obligations cause her to be seen less on RHOA but still maintain her status as a full-time cast member until Season 8.
While not on the show, NeNe still made appearances from time to time. In Season 8, she surprised the girls on a group trip to Jamaica and participated in the reunion for a quick second. However, she never made any appearances in Season 9.
Shortly after Season 9 wrapped, there were rumors that the RHOA producers were attempting to convince NeNe and Kim to come back for Season 10. For months, reports about the negotiations were on the hot topic on all of the blogs. However, NeNe would not comment on whether or not she was coming back. Fortunately, she eventually signed the contract and started filming with the rest of the ladies.
So far, Season 10 focuses on her broken relationship with Porsha Williams. She’s currently in a good with Kandi, Cynthia, Kenya Moore, and Sheree. She’s also celebrating having her new Atlanta clothing store, SWAGG boutique. However, recently she has to deal with health issues that her husband Gregg is experiencing.
There are also rumors that NeNe has had, even more, work done on her face within the last year. It appears to be more narrow and nose looks slightly different. But the RHOA “OG” isn’t paying the rumors any mind. Though NeNe has indeed changed her hairstyles, went under the knife, and upgraded her wardrobe, the two things that haven’t changed are her personality attitude.
She’s still that over-the-top girl whos larger than life, which is what fans love. NeNe has managed to become the breakout star amongst all of the “Real Housewives” franchises and has done the most with her platform. The smalltown girl from Athens, Georgia is now a Hollywood star and that’s what everyone sees when they look at her.