The truth about NeNe Leakes and Wendy Williams' relationship

Even though Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes and talk show host Wendy Williams have been friends for years, at times, the two seem more like frenemies. Leakes and Williams are both known for speaking their minds, so their tiffs tend to play out in the spotlight. Case in point? When Williams recently spilled a major detail about the future of Leakes' time on RHOA before Leakes publicly shared anything herself. In late January 2020, during an episode of her talk show, Williams claimed that Leakes texted her about quitting RHOA. In response, Leakes' rep clarified to Page Six, "It's been an especially difficult couple of weeks for NeNe, and she was venting to her friend in private correspondence. Nothing has been confirmed or officially decided for next season." 

Leakes later tweeted, "Private conversations should be left in private! What are girlfriends for if you can't vent to them on those type of days." Yikes, right? But don't worry, days later Williams said on her show (via Hollywood Life), "Just in case you're still wondering, NeNe and I still cool, okay." That settles that. Despite Leakes and Williams' long-term feud, they publicly buried the hatchet in fall 2019 and seem intent on keeping the peace (even if drama does occasionally bubble up). Let's take a closer look at their rollercoaster of a relationship.

Even Wendy Williams couldn't remember why they started fighting

While fans knew Wendy Williams and NeNe Leakes' feud existed, it's tough to track down the start of it all. Heck, even Williams couldn't quite remember. In September 2019, she talked to Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live about her relationship with Leakes and explained (via The Daily Dish), "I'm going through a divorce, I'm rebuilding my life and NeNe was one of the people I wanted to speak with, like, why are we fighting?" So, she got Leakes' number through her assistant and recalled, "I was like, 'Look, I don't know what your problem is with me or me with you, but where are you now? Let's have dinner.'" Now, Williams is happy they're friends again, saying of Leakes, "She's a good one — and really loud!"

That same month, Williams and Leakes sat down together on The Wendy Williams Show for the first time in seven years. Williams hypothesized about why they became so distant, claiming fame went to Leakes' head. She said, "When we first met NeNe on the Housewives, she was like our big mouth friend who [would] just say it like she meant it, she had a cute family, and the laugh and that whole bit... And then, all of a sudden, the paychecks got bigger... We missed the girl that we knew." However, if you ask Leakes, she has a different view on the series of events...

NeNe Leakes has her own thoughts on why they grew apart

In that same Wendy Williams Show sit-down in mid-September 2019, NeNe Leakes revealed that she believed Wendy Williams actually started the drama. She recalled, "So you know how Wendy does her Hot Topics? ... I was just like, 'Dang, she is just really running my name in the dirt.'" Basically, this Real Housewife got fed up with her supposed pal calling her out in the gossip run-down on her show. (That includes a 2014 Birkin bag-related incident that's as confusing as it is messy, where Williams made a comment on the show about Leakes painting catchphrases on a designer bag and the RHOA star then called Williams out on her blog.)

Back in February 2016, Leakes talked about the drama in an interview with lovebscott.com. "I have never had a problem with Wendy, let's be clear! I have never had a problem with Wendy. Every week on her show she began speaking negatively about me," Leakes said. "I've been on her show several times — all of a sudden she starts bashing me every single week." She pretty much foreshadowed their reconciliation though, saying, "If she spoke to me today, I would speak to her. I don't hold a grudge. I want to support Wendy. It's not in my heart to not support another successful Black woman, but that's just how it is right now."

Still, NeNe Leakes says Wendy Williams is like a 'big sister'

After all is said and done, there is indeed some level of friendship between NeNe Leakes and Wendy Williams. Leakes told ESSENCE in 2019, "I don't know if you've ever met someone and you become like fast friends? Like, you know, you start talking to them and it's like, man, it feels like I've been knowing you for 10 years." She continued, "So, I think that's the kind of connection that she and I have... It's easy, it's natural. It's like having a big sister."

In their joint Wendy Williams Show interview last fall, they recalled how easy it was to make amends when they finally met up. Leakes said, "Regardless [of] whatever happened, the thing that I love the most is... when I got to the restaurant, it was almost like we never missed a beat. We [were] just right back into it." Around that time, Leakes posted on Instagram, "Wendy really is the match to my fire, the chips to my salsa and the ice cream to my cake! You gotta love her." If their relationship can survive years of feuding, they can make it through anything. After all, they go together like chips and salsa, right?