What really went down between NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann?

Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan. Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge. Porsha Williams and Phaedra Parks. Lisa Vanderpump and Kyle Richards. The Real Housewives universe has introduced viewers to a number of legendary on-again, off-again friendship pairings, but it is safe to say there has never been a duo quite like NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann-Biermann of The Real Housewives of Atlanta

Leakes’ and Zolciak-Biermann-Biermann’s RHOA journeys began all the way back in Season 1 when they were part of the show’s original cast, and not unlike their friendship, their roles on the hit Bravo series are ever-changing. Leakes stayed on the main roster through Season 7, appeared on Season 8 as a “friend of,” and was given back her peach just in time for Season 10. Zolciak-Biermann-Biermann abruptly exited the show in the middle of Season 5, returned as a supporting cast member in Season 9, and left again after Season 10. Whether they are front and center on RHOA or go an entire season without crossing a Bravo camera’s path, their relationship remains an integral part of the series, for better or for worse. A lot has happened between Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann-Biermann over the last dozen years, and here are a few of the highs and lows. 

They started their RHOA journey as friends

Before the rest of the world was introduced to them on the first season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes met at a gym. As Zolciak-Biermann recalled on an episode of the RHOA Season 10 after show, she caught Leakes’ attention when she was “smoking cigarettes, running around the gym” with her trainer. Leakes joked around about Zolciak-Biermann’s cigarette-heavy workout regimen, pointed at her own knee when Zolciak-Biermann asked her to repeat her name, and the two eventually “had the whole gym in stitches.”

The duo began Season 1 as pals, but once word got out that Zolciak-Biermann’s relationship situation was a tad shady (her then-boyfriend “Big Poppa” was still married to another woman), her friendship with Leakes turned sour. When the reunion rolled around, their bond was so fractured that Leakes had no problem telling Zolciak-Biermann to “close your legs to married men,” a line that would live in Real Housewives infamy. This would be one of many fights between Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann (the “Tardy for the Party” drama! The tour bus fight! Roachgate!), some of which the Bravo cameras documented, and others that played out on social media.

NeNe Leakes made a dig at Kim Zolciak-Biermann in her book

In 2009, NeNe Leakes released Never Make the Same Mistake Twice, a memoir full of stories about her past and tidbits about her Real Housewives of Atlanta costars. And yes, one of those tidbits took aim at Kim Zolciak-Biermann. When Leakes appeared on an episode of Watch What Happens Live to promote the book, host Andy Cohen read a few sentences about Zolciak-Biermann out loud. The excerpt goes as follows: “Kim wouldn’t know how to make a dime if you slapped her with a bucket of change. Every dollar that chick has is somebody else’s husband’s money.”

Unsurprisingly, this struck a nerve with Zolciak-Biermann. Just as the credits started to roll, she called into the late-night talk show to confront Leakes. The episode ended as Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann’s heated exchange began, and Cohen let the audience know that the rest would be available on the Bravo website. For several intense minutes, Zolciak-Biermann and Leakes shouted at each other about finances and infidelity, and Cohen tried (and failed) to get the conversation back on the rails. 

There was a choking accusation

In August 2009, OK! reported Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes got into a physical altercation earlier that year that allegedly led to Leakes choking Zolciak-Biermann. The “Tardy for the Party” singer told the outlet that she considered pressing charges against Leakes, but ultimately decided against pursuing legal action. In a separate report from OK!, Zolciak-Biermann also claimed that she “smacked [Leakes’] finger out of [her] face” after the alleged strangling happened. When TMZ asked Leakes about the accusation, she replied, “Would I actually strangle somebody and walk the streets of New York?”

Days after the choking allegations surfaced, The Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 2 cast appeared on On Air with Ryan Seacrest. The radio show host asked Zolciak-Biermann and Leakes about the reports, and the two wasted no time in arguing about whether or not it was self defense, who put hands on who first, and why Kim opted not to press charges. Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann yelled over and at one another, while the rest of the RHOA cast made faces that suggested they would rather be anywhere else at that moment. Seacrest eventually gave up and cut to commercial.  

Twitter has played host to many of NeNe and Kim's feuds

NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann are no strangers to trading barbs on Twitter, and one of their more memorable exchanges came about after Zolciak-Biermann and The Real Housewives of Atlanta parted ways for the first time in 2012. Leakes posted that her frenemy was fired from the RHOA cast; Zolciak-Biermann countered that she voluntarily left the reality show for her family and their spinoff series, Don’t Be Tardy. The tweets are juicier than a crate of peaches at a farmers market.

On Nov. 23, 2012, Leakes tweeted, “It’s so funny how this chick wants people 2 think she quit the show! The producers no longer wanted 2 work wit u! Good bye wit the lies.” In another tweet, she wrote, “None of the girls or producers wanted 2 work wit her! Saving face like all the other ex housewives! U were FIRED! Good bye.” Moreover, the spinoff explanation did not hold water as far as Leakes was concerned. She posted, “U had an existing deal that the (sic) honored! Girl bye! Keep it 100.”

Minutes after Leakes put those claims out into the Twittersphere, Zolciak-Biermann logged on to deny that she was kicked off of RHOA, as well as address Leakes’ claims regarding the spinoff deal. She tweeted, “I definitely was NOT fired from RHOA I can guarantee u that!!! My spinoff last year was a 1 time thing so this spinoff is brand new! Bye hater!!!!”

NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann also know how to make nice

Before NeNe Leakes and Gregg Leakes got remarried in 2013, NeNe sent a wedding invitation-shaped peace offering to Kim Zolciak-Biermann. And praise Bravo, it worked. Per USA Today, Leakes told In Touch Weekly in March 2013 that the invite was her way of “extending an olive branch” to Zolciak-Biermann, and Zolciak-Biermann said she was eager to get their “friendship back on track.” Their emotional reunion was captured on I Dream of NeNe, The Real Housewives of Atlanta spinoff that documented NeNe and Gregg’s nuptials.

This reconciliation stuck for a while. A year and some change later, Zolciak-Biermann shared a throwback photo she took with NeNe on Instagram, writing, “You know where this friendship started?!!! LA Fitness we were both working out!! @neneleakes had my laughing so hard I could barely lift a weight! #missyougirl #youballeryou #proudofyou #wecamealongway.” A month after that Instagram post went up, Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann went on Watch What Happens Live. Unlike the infamous episode of WWHL that aired back in 2009, they did not yell at each other over the phone. Instead, they sat next to each other in the WWHL Clubhouse and got on like old friends and laughed about all the times Leakes called Zolciak-Biermann a “trash box.” 

What happened to Kim and NeNe's spinoff show?

In March 2015, Bravo confirmed that NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann would be starring in an offshoot of The Real Housewives of Atlanta called NeNe and Kim: The Road to Riches. On the heels of the spinoff announcement, Leakes shared with E! News that she was looking forward to only working with Zolciak-Biermann instead of “Housewives where I was working with like, six monsters.” Zolciak-Biermann added, “It will be good not having anyone interfering with NeNe and I. We’re back to we started twelve years ago, no other noise.”

A few months later, however, the show was postponed indefinitely. A source told TMZ that the spinoff would not be happening due to “scheduling issues,” and E! News reported that a source said the plug had been pulled on The Road to Riches was because the two Bravolebrities were “both in the middle of other projects.” 

Fast-forward to March 2018: Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann were in the thick of the Roachgate feud, which we’ll get to in just a moment, and Leakes apparently figured it was as good a time as any to bring up the canceled spinoff story on Twitter. She claimed she chose to not do the show with Zolciak-Biermann and added, “Yeah they made up an excuse 2 help u b/c i didn’t want to work wit yo a** (our schedules didn’t line up) I’m more than happy you have your OWN show that you DONT deserve.”

Did Kim Zolciak-Biermann take things too far with Roachgate?

Oh, Roachgate. What a nasty battle you were. Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes’ long and winding fight involving Zolciak-Biermann’s daughter Brielle Biermann (pictured above) and a recording she allegedly took in Leakes’ home was a low point for their friendship. In October 2017, a video Brielle allegedly took of a bug in NeNe’s bathroom started to make its way around the internet, and things escalated quickly. 

A source told E! News that the video was released because “apparently Nene was talking negatively about Kim on the cast trip and it got back to Kim.” When The Real Housewives of Atlanta cast was in the middle of filming Season 10, Kim found out that Leakes openly questioned her health history, and according to E! News‘ insider, Kim allegedly chose to retaliate with “this video with roaches in it.” Brielle posted the clip on Snapchat (via TMZ), and Kim sent it to the rest of The Real Housewives of Atlanta cast and called NeNe’s home a “roach nest.” As the RHOA stars who received that message pointed out in Season 10, Kim and Brielle’s actions and comments crossed a line. The feud got so heated, in some since-deleted Instagram posts and comments, NeNe called Kim and Brielle racists. 

There was more talk of bringing in legal counsel

The strangling accusation incident from 2009 would not be the last time Kim Zolciak-Biermann considered taking her battle with NeNe Leakes to a litigious place. After Leakes called Zolciak-Biermann and Brielle Biermann racists on social media, Kim reportedly lawyered up. In October 2017, Kim revealed to E!’s Daily Pop that she “hired a legal counsel at this point.” A source told Us Weekly that Kim allegedly brought on celebrity attorney Marty Singer “to represent her and handle NeNe in light of NeNe’s defamatory comments.” 

The following February, NeNe told E!’s Daily Pop that she had not heard from any attorneys regarding the Roachgate drama. She continued, “She’s gone out everywhere saying she has a lawsuit. Well, they need to contact me at some point, don’t you think?” Kim further claimed on Instagram that she could file a lawsuit against Leakes after the Season 10 reunion aired in April 2018, and Leakes tweeted, “Anytime you wanna go to court, I’m happy to see you there because your lies have runneth over.”

As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Kim has officially filed any sort of lawsuit. 

Roachgate made their friendship feel like a relic of the past

In the wake of Roachgate, NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann seemed more than ready to leave their bond in the past — for real, this time. Zolciak-Biermann told Us Weekly in November 2017 that Leakes’ remarks about her and her daughter were “the demise” of their friendship, and in a December 2017 interview with Entertainment Tonight, she said things went “too far” and would be “definitely hard to bounce back from.”

In a January 2018 interview with Extra, Leakes more definitively confirmed the burned bridge, saying, “I will never have anything to do with Kim.” She added, “I am not harboring any bad feelings, I just know this person and I will never be anything. I never want to say anything to her. I think if you cut her open, worms and slimy nastiness will come out of her. I think she is a slimy, nasty person for real.” Ouch. 

The RHOA Season 10 reunion was another low point for NeNe and Kim

Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes’ feud was on full display at The Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 10 reunion, which filmed in March 2018. When the post-season sit-down aired in April 2018, they both took to social media to indicate that they were ready to move on from this conflict, but neither seemed interested in resuscitating their friendship. In her Instagram post, Zolciak-Biermann apologized to Leakes before going on to say she could file a lawsuit against Leakes “for the lies you have spewed, tweeting out fake texts, implying I am racist, attacking me physically, claiming my daughter tweeted negative about you and your home.”

Leakes’ post-reunion Instagram caption alluded to things the viewers at home do not get to see, and criticized Zolciak-Biermann’s behavior. She wrote, “Kim loves to push buttons, lie, talk s**t, insult, then become a victim when she’s called out on her s**t! Most people would love for me to be the bully but the only bully here is Kim & her plastic surgeon!”

Following the reunion, even Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen felt like it was a final straw for Zolciak-Biermann, telling ET, “I would be surprised if Kim came back, just because she left the reunion really unhappy. I don’t think this was a fun experience for her, and so I would be really surprised if she came back.”

Never say never when it comes to Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes

Roachgate (and every feud between these frenemies, really) came to a screeching halt when NeNe Leakes’ husband, Gregg Leakes (pictured above), was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. In June 2018, NeNe revealed on Instagram that Gregg was battling cancer. Upon learning of his diagnosis, Kim Zolciak-Biermann cast the drama aside and sent a care package to the Leakes, a gesture that was received warmly. In June 2018, NeNe thanked Kim in a now-deleted Instagram post (via Bravo’s The Daily Dish) for the assortment of “all kinds of goodies” she sent to the Leakes family. “What can i say other than THANK YOU!,” NeNe wrote, adding that opening the gift is “like Christmas!”

A few months later, NeNe told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live that Kim “kept following up” with her about Gregg, and went so far as to say that she was “very open with being cool and going out for a drink. Girl, call me.”

In May 2019, NeNe announced on Instagram that Grew was “cancer free.”

The hatchet may finally be buried

In a twist no one would have predicted two years ago, Brielle Biermann hopped on Twitter in February 2020 to call NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann “the most iconic duo & housewives.” Andy Cohen mentioned Biermann’s tweet to Leakes on the March 1, 2020 episode of Watch What Happens Live, and Leakes wholeheartedly agreed. She also shared that she and Zolciak-Biermann have chatted “here and there” and are “in a great place.” Leakes also noted that their relationship is much healthier when they are not on The Real Housewives of Atlanta together. “When we’re working together, we’re pulling wigs,” Leakes said. 

When Leakes appeared on the March 26, 2020 episode of Bravo‘s The Daily Dish podcast, she revealed that she wishes Zolciak-Biermann would return to the RHOA roster — yes, even though she knows they clash whenever they are on RHOA at the same time. That said, Leakes told The Daily Dish podcast that she doubts Zolciak-Biermann will ever come back, saying, “It was a lot for her the last time she was here.”

It is probably for the best if viewers do not hold their breath for a Zolciak-Biermann return. In March 2019, she told HollywoodLife that she would “never” rejoin RHOA because “it’s just so much negativity.” And when she was asked about it again at a BravoCon a few months later, her answer (via E! News) was about as subtle as one of her red Solo cups: “Hard pass.”

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