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Q) What are the recent projects you have been working on?
A) "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" just wrapped, but we're still doing our pickups. Of course, I'm on the show "The New Normal" as the character Rocky.
Q) What was it about the character Rocky that interested in you in the part?
A) Actually, I was working on the show "Glee," playing Coach Roz. That show is also created by Ryan Murphy. He told me he had a new show that he was working on and he wanted me to play the role of Rocky. I never really got to see the script or judge it by anything. Ryan Murphy just said he wanted me to play the part. I consider him my fairy godmother because he gave me the opportunity over at "Glee." So, I just thought I'd do whatever he wants me to do. I said "yes" before I'd even seen a script.
Q) What do you find challenging about the role?
A) Rocky is really outspoken, vivacious and fashion forward. She's a lot of NeNe Leakes and I love that about her! I've never been a secretary or an sssistant in my entire life. So, that part of playing a secretary or an assistant is a little challenging for me since I've never held a job like that before. Also, there are a lot of hours working on "The New Normal," but the transition has been very easy for me. It's been very easy to transition from "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" to "The New Normal" and everybody has been very helpful and gracious to me.
Q) Is there anything about the role of Rocky that you brought to the character that wasn't scripted for you?
A) I lot of times Ryan says to me, "I want you to put a little NeNe in there" and I'm sure that he wants me to bring a little sass to it. I say things that aren't necessarily written in the script for me to say. I play around with it a little bit and sometimes they keep it and sometimes they don't. He's given me a lot of leniency and leeway to play with the character.
Q) The cast has such great chemistry. Was it instant for you or did it take a bit of time for everyone to bond?
A) None of us knew each other so we were all new to one another. It definitely took a bit of time for us to bond and get that chemistry going where we could go in there and have a really good time. Now, I think we've got that. We've totally bonded and we're a little family. It's really working for us.
Q) There have been some hilarious episodes of "The New Normal" so far. What have been some of your favorite moments from filming?
A) I have a lot of fun on set with Justin Bartha. He is the actor from The Hangover. We have totally bonded and have such a great time. I have a great time with Ellen Barkin, as well. I think she's hilarious! I think she's sassy and definitely outspoken, in real life and her character. Everybody asks how I deal with her being a racist. I say, "That's her character. That is not who she is. If that was who she is, I'd have to tie her up in a knot!" I think Ellen is fantastic. I have very much enjoyed working with her. I've just been able to bond with everybody and make it a very pleasant experience. I've been really lucky and blessed.
Q) The show has become a fan favorite program. Did you expect it to be so successful when you began working on it?
A) When I started working on the show, I started hearing things like everybody thought it would be the new gay show or they thought it was a show that walked a fine line because it was very edgy. I had no idea how the show was going to go, if people would love us or hate us. We were hoping that we would get a lot of love. It's so common now to see two gay men out holding hands or spending their lives together. We just wanted to open the world up a little bit more to that. In the beginning, we didn't know if it was going to be a hit or not, but we felt it was a hit. We didn't know if it was going to hit with the viewers or not. Thankfully, it did and we were given extra episodes by NBC. So, we are on our way!
Q) You are also Coach Roz Washington on the show "Glee." Is there a chance you will be making a cameo this season?
A) I'm really hoping to make a cameo this season as Roz. I love, love, love being over at "Glee." I have the greatest time playing Coach Roz. So, I am hoping that I am definitely invited over there to do more with Roz.
Q) A lot of the "Glee" cast were fans of yours from "Real Housewives of Atlanta." What was it like to step on set knowing you were a celebrity to them?
A) It was absolutely amazing because I love people like Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Naya Rivera and Jane Lynch. They are all stars themselves! For them to have me come over and all go crazy was so hilarious to me. They definitely welcomed me with open arms at "Glee" and I miss all of them. We shoot at Paramount and so do they. So, they are actually just across the parking lot from me. I bumped into Chris Colfer the other day and I talk to Naya all the time.
Q) You have your hands full with three different television shows. What motivates you and gives you the energy to tackle them all?
A) I've talked to a lot of people who have been in the business for a really long time. When ever I bump into them I ask their advice. I recently did Ryan Seacrest's show and I asked him about it. I said, "I know you do a lot of things. Should I let one show go? Do I do this or that?" His advice to me was to do as much as I can for as long as I can. I've asked other people in the business when ever I bump into somebody and they all tell me the same thing. Work and do it all until I can't do it. That's what I do! I continue going. It gets hard sometimes and you feel like you just need a break, but you have to keep going.
Q) We are just starting a new season of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Can you tease about some upcoming scenes we'll be seeing?
A) There are a lot of special moments. I can't really give any away because we just had our premiere last week. There are lots of things, though. We haven't even seen the shows. I can tell you there is a lot of drama and a lot of tears. There are a lot of breakups and makeups this season. it's going to be interesting. We knocked the ratings out of the park last Sunday. We had almost three million viewers. We are really happy and excited about that. It's going to be an exciting season!
Q) Who would you say you are closest to from the cast?
A) I'm the closest with Cynthia Bailey. She and I are BFFs. I have a relationship with all of the girls. I think Phaedra [Parks] is super funny. We have two new girls, Kenya Moore and Portia Stewart. I think Kenya is off her rocker and I think Portia is a great addition to the show. I have a relationship with everybody. I think Kandi [Burruss] is cool. I think we have a great show!
Q) Phaedra recently joined you to celebrate your appearance on the cover of Ebony magazine.
A) Yes, that was very nice for her to come to New York and celebrate the cover. Me, her and many other African American girls grew up looking at the Ebony magazine. So, it was a pleasure and an honor for them to ask me to grace their cover. They, generally, do not have reality stars on their cover; however, not only am I a reality star, I'm also an actress. So, I was very honored to accept the cover of their "power" issue of the magazine.
Q) Where can people go online to learn more about you?
A) I am on Twitter at @NeNeLeakes. They can buy my "Nethia" show through Shoedazzle at http://www.shoedazzle.com/products/NETHIA. It was named after my given name, Linnethia. They can also buy my clothes at http://neneleakescloset.com/.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
A) I have so many fans and supporters. I would have to say without them, there is no me. I appreciate everything! I appreciate them standing by me when I was at my lowest and right now I'm on a high. I appreciate them riding with me all this time. I just finished my fifth season on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" and I couldn't be more proud of that. It's great when you have fans that ride with you through the good and the bad. That's what it is all about!