‘I’ve Always Valued Hard Work': Nene Leakes Explains Her Entrepreneurial Spirit And Why She's ‘Going Back To School’


‘I’ve Always Valued Hard Work’: Nene Leakes Explains Her Entrepreneurial Spirit And Why She’s ‘Going Back To School’

“I’m rich. Very rich.”

The iconic phrase was among many of the quips that made the former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Nene Leakes a pop culture titan. Over the years, we’ve grown to love her hilariously authentic personality. But what she also wants to make clear is that her life wasn’t an accident—she worked hard for all of the success she’s achieved. According to Leakes, her work ethic burgeoned at an early age.

“I grew up watching my aunt work hard and I learned how to be the same way,” the Athens, Georgia native said. Previously Leakes shared she was primarily raised by her aunt, a loving woman that taught her the core values she stands on today.

“Hard work was just instilled in the way I was raised—a lot of times I look at people, and I’m like, who raised them? What kind of house did they come from,” she said jokingly in a sit-down with Essence. A key factor that’s no laughing matter to Leakes though is her entrepreneurial endeavors. A serial entrepreneur, Leakes has previously launched a clothing brand, eateries, hair line and now most recently, her wildly popular lounge based in Atlanta, The Linnethia. Although she says the business requires a lot work, it’s fulfilling.

“The nightlife imdustry isn’t easy but I’m really proud of the great vibes we’re able to create for those who enter our doors,” she said, also sharing she’s running the establishment with the help of her son. She even mentioned she’s open to opening another based on the success of the first location.

But before that happens, she’s going back to school…kind of.

BET recently announced Leakes, along with other notable figures have rounded out the College Hill: Celebrity Edition cast.

The show, which premiered on June 27 on streaming platform BET+, is a reboot of the original 2004 docu-series that followed students navigating life at the prospective HBCUs they were enrolled in.

This time around, the reimagining follows Leakes and her cast mates, which include Lamar Odom, Ray J, Stacey Dash and more as they live their lives as students on the campus of Texas Southern University.

Although it’s a genius idea, Leakes said she wasn’t initially on-board.

“I wasn’t excited about going back to school,” she said. But she said after giving it some thought, she realized it was a great opportunity to return to what she loves.

“I wanted to figure out if I was ready to get back into reality television, and this was a reality experience that I was offered, but I wasn’t sure because I’d never lived in a house with other people. Surprisingly, it’s been a really positive experience, surprisingly.”

Leakes said she learned more about herself through the process.

“We attended real classes, including African American studies,” Leakes said, sharing the lectures was incredibly eye-opening for her. “The professors were phenomenal. I actually looked forward to hearing everything they had to say.”

Overall, she said the experience taught her the importance of being open to new experiences.

“Once you reach a certain point in your life, you think you know everything—but we never stop learning. Never.”


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