"Be Good to Me and I'll Be Good to You:" Chicago Star NeNe Leakes Talks "NeNe-isms," The Wiz and Needing Her "Glam"

News   "Be Good to Me and I'll Be Good to You:" Chicago Star NeNe Leakes Talks "NeNe-isms," The Wiz and Needing Her "Glam" "Real Housewife" NeNe Leakes, also known for her roles on "Glee" and "The New Normal," made her Broadway debut last season in Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella. Now she's back as Chicago's Matron "Mama" Morton through Dec. 20. We caught up with Leakes about her current run and who she'd want as a cellmate in the Cook County Jail!

Nene Leakes
Nene Leakes Photo by Monica Simoes

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What was the audience reaction like on your opening night?
NL: I felt like the audience received me very well. I got a standing ovation, which I really loved. I was trying to make sure I didn't cry. I cried last year and I said, "This year…these lashes I've got on, they're really big and I don't want them to fall off so I'm just going to try not to cry," and I did pretty good!

How are you making "Mama" Morton your own?
NL: Well, what I try to do with "Mama" Morton is make her a little funny by saying things that are a little hilarious, and I think that everybody over at Chicago really loves it. They say I make them laugh. We wanted to make "Mama" Morton funnier and kind of a little bit like me. I like to be funny and she's a little outspoken so I want to make her outspoken, but also funny — put some of those "NeNe-isms," those one-liners I used to do on "Housewives," I love that! I want to make her funny.

Speaking of "Housewives," if "Mama" Morton had her own tagline, what would it be?
NL: "Be good to me and I'll be good to you." [Laughs]

Nene Leakes
Nene Leakes Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

If you were in the Cook County Jail, who would you want to be your cellmate?
NL: Oh Lord! In real life? I guess Gregg [Leakes, my husband]! At least I could still make love, honey, while being in jail and have somebody to cuddle with.

What's it like being part of a cast with so many supportive women?
NL: It's really great. Last year when I was in Cinderella they were all very supportive, as well. It's really good to be with a cast that's really loving and supportive of you. This cast has been really good to me. They all sent messages and left me little cards. They've been sending messages for the longest time saying "We can't wait to meet you!" and things like that. They've been asking "How's she doing?" We all got to meet each other yesterday at 3 o'clock and have a really good time before the show.

Do you have any other dream roles that you'd love to play on Broadway?
NL: Let me see…Well, we were just talking about The Wiz. I know that The Wiz is on NBC. It would be great if there were a Broadway show. I love The Wiz. I would want to be a part of that. Of course as Evillene! She has a great song.

Donna Marie Asbury, R. Lowe, Jason Danieley, Dylis Croman, Amra-Faye Wright, Raymond Bokhour, NeNe Leakes
Donna Marie Asbury, R. Lowe, Jason Danieley, Dylis Croman, Amra-Faye Wright, Raymond Bokhour, NeNe Leakes Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

What's your favorite cast recording or album?
NL: I'm a big fan of Toni Braxton. I love her music. I listen to her albums all the time. When my glam [squad] comes over they can probably tell you that we listen to her while we're getting in "glam" because she's really mellow and I like that in the morning time. Not to mention I'm best friends with [Toni's] sister, Tamar!

Do you have a must-have item in your dressing room?
NL: The one thing I bring with me everywhere is my makeup bag, but I don't have anything in my dressing room in particular. Right now I have lots of gifts! Lots of flowers and those Edible Arrangements are all in my dressing room right now, but I don't have anything in particular that I would just carry with me to the dressing room other than my glam. I'm an easy girl on shows. All I need is my check! [Laughs] Just give me my check on pay day and I'm good — bring me a little water every now and then and then I'll take my check! Thank you!

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