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‘One Of My Favorite People’: Andy Cohen Reacts To Kandi Burruss’ Exit From The Real Housewives Of Atlanta

 Andy Cohen and Kandi Burruss on Watch What Happens Live.
Andy Cohen and Kandi Burruss on Watch What Happens Live.

Grammy Night is always a big occasion for the musicians being honored, but Kandi Burruss of The Real Housewives of Atlanta had her own professional milestone moment on the red carpet. The reality TV veteran announced that she would not be returning for Season 16 of the Bravo reality show. This was not news to executive producer Andy Cohen, though he said didn’t know she’d planned to let the cat out of the bag at the awards show. The host reflected on the end of Burruss’ epic stint on RHOA, calling her “one of my favorite people."

Kandi Burruss is the longest-serving cast member in the Real Housewives franchise, having joined the Atlanta cast in Season 2. Andy Cohen opened up about her 14 years on Bravo and her “iconic” contributions to RHOA on SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live, including how she wrote and produced Kim Zolciak’s “Tardy for the Party.” He also praised Burruss’ authenticity, saying:

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 hosting Watch What Happens Live.

Andy Cohen went on to talk about how smart and strategic Kandi Burruss always was, making her opinions known about Bravo’s marketing strategies and offering her own suggestions. This notably came into play in 2020, when tensions were running particularly high in matters of politics and race relations. The WWHL host recalled the impact she had not just on The Real Housewives of Atlanta but on how Bravo did business overall. Cohen said:

She wrote such a thoughtful letter to all of us at Bravo and Truly Original with some really valid and true thoughts about the way that we could be conducting business differently that might be just more inclusive, more positive, more meaningful and it led to a great conversation between she and the network, and I believe the network then took it seriously enough that they basically made them all action items and said, ‘Well, we need to do all of this now,’ and that's a 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, if I didn't respect her and love her before that, man did I after that.

While no one expected Kandi Burruss to make such a big announcement on the Grammys red carpet, it’s actually a pretty appropriate venue, given her background in music. The Masked Singer’s first female winner was nominated for a Grammy Award for her work on the Destiny Child hit “Bills, Bills, Bills,” in 2000, the same year that she won for Best R&B Song with TLC’s “No Scrubs.”

Variety caught up with The Real Housewives of Atlanta star on the red carpet, where she divulged:

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. But it’s not just that. It’s just like, after you really have time to think, and a friend of mine was like, ‘Why do you keep doing it?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I think because I’ve just been doing it for so long, it feels weird to think not to do it?’ So I was just like, ‘You know what? I’m going to take a break, I’m going to take a moment.’

Neither Kandi Burruss nor Andy Cohen seemed to rule out her return to the series down the road, with the EP saying, “Bravo will be in business with her for a long time,” and that there are “other things in development.” Based on Burruss’ own comments, it sounds like she’s got some other coals in the fire, too, so we’ll have to see if Bravo remains involved in her next ventures.

A shakeup amongst the RHOA cast members was expected after Season 15 wrapped in September, with many fans wondering if NeNe Leakes might make a return, despite her comments throwing shade at the entire Real Housewives franchise last year. While we wait to see who will comprise the Season 16 cast and when its premiere date will hit the 2024 TV schedule, fans can catch all of their favorite Bravo-lebrities streaming with a Peacock subscription.