In her eight seasons on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Cynthia Bailey has always managed to keep her cool and float above the drama – which is no easy feat considering the shocking allegations that plagued the cast at last season’s reunion. Now at 50 years old, Cynthia finds herself in a completely different place in life than where we first met her in season 3. We chatted with the freshly-divorced star to talk about the latest chapter in her life, the dating app she’s on, her take on last season’s reunion, and what we can expect from the ladies this season.
Slice: Is it crazy to think that now you’ve been on the show for eight seasons?
Cynthia: I can’t even believe it some days. I’m a very different person from my first time coming on to the show in season 3. I look back and I’m like “oh my god, what was I thinking!” You know? And now it’s been eight years and I feel like I’ve come full circle in a lot of ways and I haven’t compromised myself too much. I feel like I am definitely still the class, the grace, and the light, and the voice of reason on the show. I’ve been caught up in situations, but I don’t feel like I’ve gone too far or compromised myself in a way that I couldn’t deal with. Any wrong I did, I tried to make right; if I needed to apologize I was willing to do it; and if I had to read somebody, I read them!
S: That’s one of our favourite things about you, you’ve always held your own.
C: I do! I do hold my own. I still think in a lot of ways, I’m not the same girl that I used to be, but the essence of the true Cynthia is still there.
S: You are starting this huge new chapter in your life. What can we expect from you this season?
C: In terms of business, you’ll see what I already have planned with my fashion accessories empire. My Cynthia Bailey Eyewear is doing great, QVC picked up my Cynthia Bailey Readers, and I just launched a Candle line called 50 Scent. You’ll see me in hustle mode, but personally, you’ll see me make sure I keep a connection with my daughter Noelle. We’re very close, and it’s kind of crazy because she’s 18 now and she’s dating, and I’m dating, so we’re both dating in the house and we’re kind of both like “where are you going tonight.” So we’re going through this whole dating thing together. And for the first time, you’ll see me [date] someone other than my ex-husband. Peter and I came on the show together, then we got married on the show, and this is the first time you’ll see my hanging out with men that I wasn’t previously married to.
S: What’s your relationship with your ex-husband like today?
C: Peter and I are still friends. There’s kind of unfinished business with BarOne in Atlanta, so there’s some things that we started on when we were still together that I want to finish out. [He’s] still close with my daughter Noelle; she loves Peter and he’s like a second dad to her. We still have a relationship, we’re just not together anymore. Sometimes I forget we’re not married, I call him about stuff and then I’m like “oh, right, you’re not my husband anymore, I probably shouldn’t call you.”
S: It was so jaw-dropping the way everything happened at the last reunion. What was it like being there in person?
C: It was kind of like how you guys watched it. I was just very surprised to see how it all unfolded. But at the same time it was kind of a relief because it was really tough to watch Kandi go through all of this stuff only to find out that it was just BS at the end of the day. A lot of the women on the show will put stuff out there about each other, but when you get to the point where you’re just going to blatantly make up a lie and put energy and time into it for a whole season, it’s just crazy. I really didn’t like seeing the show go in that direction. It’s a reality show, you can’t just pull stuff out of your ass. It’s not cool. Kandi is a businesswoman, she’s a mom, and she’s a wife – and all of those things hurt her a lot. Although she was vindicated at the reunion, a lot of that stuff still lives out there on the blogs and social media.
S: Would you ever be able to forgive Porsha and Phaedra if that was you in that position?
C: I think over time I could…but I could definitely never be friends with them again. I could be around them if I had to – for work – but I couldn’t trust them. I thought it was disgusting. It was very low.
S: Do you think the events of last season’s reunion affected the way you went into this season?
C: Yes, of course! In my opinion it was kind of dark, and sad, and shocking, and crazy. I think this season… a lot of the girls have Kandi’s back. None of us wanted to be Kandi last season. Any one of us could have been in that position where you have a [cast member] make up stuff about you and just run with it, even if it’s not true. So Kandi gets a lot of support this season just from us understanding why she was so upset and hurt – we all can relate to it.
This season the word “accountability” comes up a lot. Just taking accountability for your part in anything that you did that was not right, and making the people that you hurt believe that you are truly sorry and that you would never do something like that again.
Related: The most shocking Real Housewives exits.
S: You might be busier now at 50 years old than you have been in a long time – you’re teetering on mogul status with all of your businesses. Did you always plan to shift into the business world later in life?
C: I’ve always been very ambitious and very focused. Once I started having problems in my marriage and I knew it was going to lead to a separation – and ultimately a divorce – I knew I had to get my shit together and focus because I knew I was going to be single and taking care of myself. So with that said, what you’re seeing on social media and Instagram comes from a lot of focus, and a lot of hard work and dedication, because it’s very important for me to be financially independent.
I don’t know what the future has in store for me in terms of the next man, or boyfriend, or husband. I don’t know if I’ll be married again. The only thing I know for sure is that I have to take care of myself for now.
S: One of the great things about having you on the show is that you’re showing this path in life that lots of women might have to take one day, and it’s something you can be proud of showing on TV.
C: I think sometimes when people see us on TV they think that our lives are easier because we’re on TV, but we’re going through the same stuff that everyone else is going through. You know, I got into my marriage, I wanted it to work, but I wasn’t happy, I didn’t have peace. It wasn’t easy to walk away at 49 years old…but I had to do it. I’m glad to show that you don’t have to stay with someone that is no longer serving their purpose of making you happy and giving you peace.
I turned 50 this year, [and] I really embraced it. I wanted other women to feel like 50 is not…older. For me, I’m just getting started in a lot of different ways. I feel freer than ever, and I look and feel better at my age now than I did when I was in my 30s.
It’s funny, I have a lot of followers in their 20s and they say they can’t wait to turn 50 because I make it seem so fun, and fabulous, and liberating. I think when you feel happier, you just look better. There’s definitely a glow about me – and I’m not pregnant [laughs] – so I must just be happy.
S: No shade, but the dating game has really changed since the last time you were on the market. Do you have to turn to Noelle for advice?
C: Oh my god, all the time! I probably wouldn’t even be asked on dates if Noelle wasn’t helping me out. In the 10 years that I wasn’t dating, social media happened, and now guys text more than they call. Then there’s FaceTime, and you have to look cute on Facetime! And then there’s emoji, and I didn’t know what all the emoji meant. I was texting my plumber and I sent the emoji with the two heart eyes to say thank you for fixing all this stuff, and I wasn’t even thinking that I was flirting with him! Then I was like “wow he’s really being attentive now!” [Laughs]. I would send all these emoji without knowing what they meant, and I would get all this great feedback, and then I realized “oh! He thinks I’m flirting with him!”
And then Noelle also had to explain to me what “thirsty texting” and “dry texting” were. Like if a guy texts you, you can’t respond right away because you’re going to seem thirsty.
I’m on a dating app, Raya, and sometimes I get some cool interest.
S: What’s your photo?!
C: Oh honey, it’s a really good photo, it’s just me looking all glammed out in a baseball cap. My profile is very fabulous – and I definitely have my #50Cynt nude photo in the mix. I like to make it very clear [that] this is my age, don’t come over here unless you’re good with it.
S: Thanks for talking to us Cynthia. One last question, are there any surprises in store for fans this season?
C: Well we’re just getting warmed up. We haven’t even gotten to a lot of the real drama that you guys love watching on the show…but we’re also having a lot of fun this season too. For myself, personally, I’m just at a different place. I bump heads with a couple of people this season, but I [own] my stuff. I’m 50, I’m happy, and not much is going to rattle me at this point. I’ve been able to get through most of my drama, but I definitely do address it. I definitely check anybody who comes for me, but I do it with class and grace – as always!
Watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta Sundays at 8e/p.