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US TV Interview

NeNe Leakes talks 'The New Normal', motherhood, 'Glee' return, more

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NeNe Leakes is certainly a force to be reckoned with. We all grew to know and love her fiery personality on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, but make no mistake - she had no plans on stopping there. Going on to participate in The Celebrity Apprentice and then pursuing acting roles on Glee and NBC's The New Normal, there's seemingly nothing she can't do.

Digital Spy caught up with NeNe to find out a bit more about her successful career and how she juggles it all.

The New Normal: NeNe Leakes as Rocky

© NBC Universal



What drew you to the role of Rocky on The New Normal?
"Well, nothing actually drew me to the role. Ryan Murphy told me I had to do it, so I just said yes! Because he had given me the character Roz Washington on Glee, so I feel like I am in debt with Ryan and I feel loyal to him, so whatever it is he tells me to do, that's what I do, and if he wants me to play whatever character, I just play the character. He is super smart and he has a great eye for talent, so I respect that and I do whatever he says."

Everyone was probably a bit surprised - but really excited - to see you cast as Coach Roz on Glee. What was that experience like?
"Being on Glee was amazing. I remember my first day on set, my first day I arrived to the set I was in my trailer and all of the actors came and banged on my door - Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera. They all welcomed me with open arms, so it was a great experience. It felt like family, and I miss them a lot over there."

Would you go back?
"I absolutely would love to go back over to Glee. We shoot on the same lot, Paramount, and I pass them every day so I can just walk over there. I would love to be back, yes."

We all know you first from your reality TV experiences, from Real Housewives to Celebrity Apprentice. Did you struggle to make the transition from reality star to bona fide actress?
"I didn't struggle at all - it just really came naturally for me. I really didn't go out looking for it; it's just happened for me. I always say, 'What's for me is for me'. I don't really push it and think like that.

The New Normal: NeNe Leakes as Rocky

© NBC Universal



"I've always liked acting - I did it years ago, this isn't my first time doing it. My first film was with Cuba Gooding Jr, The Fighting Temptations, and I had a little part here and there on little shows as guest stars. And I've taken acting classes. So it's not my first time acting. I love becoming a character outside of who I am. Even when I was a little girl, I loved make believe, so I like it."

Having so many endeavours going on simultaneously - from acting to writing, philanthropy and your restaurant investments, how do you prioritise everything, especially being a mum of two young sons?
"It's not easy! We have help. I have my sons' father, I have a nanny, I have flight tickets and car service - it's not easy - and tutors and all kinds of things. My son flies to Los Angeles and he's homeschooled. It's not easy. It's a full schedule for me to work and for my kid to go to school, so it's a lot."

You released your first book last year in which you detailed your experiences with domestic violence. Why was it so important for you to share those stories publicly?
"I never knew how much I would like being an author. I love being an author. I love writing down the things that happened in my life and putting it on pages. I'm just a real person and I tell it like it is. I don't have a lot of secrets, which has been a fault of mine. I just wanted to share my story in hopes that it would help someone else."

The New Normal airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9.30/8.30c. E4 will air the series in the UK.

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