Kandi Burruss is looking forward to all the blessings manifesting in her life — and that seems to include her departure from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
The reality TV star and songwriter soft-launched her career pivot Sunday while walking the red carpet at the 66th Grammy Awards. She is officially closing the door on her Bravo home, announcing her departure from the show after a 14-season run. The move came as a shock to fans of the franchise and apparently to Bravo frontman Andy Cohen.
“I’m not really keeping up right now,” Burruss told Variety editor Marc Malkin. “I’m not keeping up. I already said it, so I’ll tell you. I decided I’m not coming back this year.
“It’s been 14 seasons, and they allowed us to sit around for a little too long, but during that time I had started working on a lot of other things, and I got some nice big projects coming soon, so I’m super excited about those things,” the Grammy-winning songwriter added.
Burruss, 47, had been a “RHOA” mainstay since debuting on Season 2 in 2009, chronicling the ups and tragic downs of her personal and professional life. But as the series navigates its own rocky transition, she’ll be stepping away — at least for the time being.
The R&B songwriter and Xscape singer explained that she remained with the show for so long because it “feels weird to think not to do it.” So, she said, she decided to take a break and not return for the upcoming season.
Bravo’s Georgia-set edition of its widely popular franchise wrapped its 15th season in September and has indicated that it would change up the cast, leading many to believe it would reboot the show as it did with its “Real Housewives of New York” last year. But the network is reportedly close to announcing the new “Atlanta” cast with some familiar faces slated to return.
Representatives for Bravo declined to comment Monday when reached by The Times.
Cohen, who executive produces “Housewives” and host’s Bravo’s late-night show “Watch What Happens Live” and many a Bravo reunion, gave a glowing review of Burruss’ “incredible run” with the network.
“You think about how much she not only went through on the show but brought to the show,” Cohen said Monday on his SiriusXM show, “Andy Cohen Live.”
“When she came on, she was with [ex-fiancé] A.J. [Jewell]. He, between filming our first season and shooting the reunion, was killed. She lost him. Mama Joyce was disapproving of A.J. in her first season. This was Season 2 of ‘Atlanta.’ It was Kandi’s first season. She also, in those early seasons, did the music and wrote ‘Tardy for the Party,’ which has become, you know, canon. I mean, it’s just iconic to the moment. She fell in love with Todd [Tucker]. … She brought us Mama Joyce. She brought us Bolo, she brought us the dungeon, bedroom Kandi, Don Juan, the Old Lady Gang. I mean, it goes on and on.
“She was always very true to herself. She wanted to be the best. She has been one of my favorite people to work with in my whole time. First, as an exec at Bravo, and then as an EP of ‘The Housewives’ and just, you know, hosting ‘Watch What Happens Live,’” he continued.
“I love how competitive she is. I love how thoughtful and smart she is. She is so strategic. … She always brought her authentic self to whatever she was doing and I’m excited also because she just came into the show with her own, obviously her own name and her career. I mean, she’s got a huge thing.”
Burruss joined the show not as a titular “housewife” but as someone who had already established her own claim to fame as a recording artist and award-winning songwriter, with tunes including Destiny’s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills” and TLC’s Grammy-winning “No Scrubs.” She also worked with heavy-hitters such as Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Pink and Ariana Grande and starred in and produced a handful of Broadway productions. She’s since appeared in several Bravo spin-off series and competed as Night Angel on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.”
Cohen also cited a 2020 letter Burruss penned to Bravo executives during the network’s racial reckoning that summer. He said she made “really valid and true thoughts” about the way that the network “could be conducting business differently” and how it might be “more inclusive, more positive, more meaningful.” That led to “a great conversation between she and the network.” Bravo ultimately used that as a jumping off point for action items, and Cohen described her as a real partner.
“That’s someone who’s like, ‘We are in this together. We have a long history. This is what I’m seeing that’s going on. This is how it could be better,’ and so I just, if I didn’t respect her and love her before that, man did I after that,” Cohen said. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is very cool. This is very impactful.’ She impacted not only the show, but she impacted the way that we do business behind the scenes and that is powerful, so I just, I think both of us were kind of crying a little bit at the end of the call the other day.”
Cohen also said that Burruss and the network will be in business together for a long time and that she still has “other things in development, so she is a talent that they’re not gonna want to let go.”
“She is one of the greats. She is one of the greats and I want everybody to know it, so thank you Kandi for your service. I did tell her, I was like, ‘You know, Kandi, you could drop back in in a year or two,’” he added.
Burruss was listening, apparently, and took to Instagram to thank Cohen for his kind words.
“Thank you @bravoandy! I love you! ❤️ 😘” she wrote Monday, re-posting a portion of Cohen’s clip.