In the twelve seasons that The Real Housewives of New York City has aired on Bravo, the ladies of the Big Apple have had significant cast changes throughout the decade-plus run. They are the only cast, for example, that had three brand new women added and four women leave the cast in one season (Season Five). As Season 12 concludes this week, some changes are already definite. Tinsley Mortimer has departed The Big Apple for Chicago, and Dorinda Medley is already confirmed not to be returning to the show when cameras go up for Season 13 (allegedly within a week or so). Newest cast member Leah McSweeney has called for some diversity in the cast, and it looks like this newly minted fan favorite is getting her wish; it is heavily rumored that the Bravo franchise is adding not one, but two brand new women to the cast and they are both women of color; a first for the show.
DailyMailTV correspondent and journalist Alicia Quarles is heavily rumored to be joining the ladies for the next season and has established relationships with the cast already. She recently told David Yontef on the Beyond The Velvet Rope podcast “I’ve actually, I’ve known Bethenny (Frankel) the longest,” she said. “I’ve known LuAnn (de Lesseps) the longest after that, probably over 10 years. We just connected. We were at a charity event in the Hamptons with my ex-husband’s organization. LuAnn was there. I was there. We were both bored. And we just, we bonded. We’ve been getting into trouble ever since.” She also knows departing cast member Dorinda Medley, calling Medley’s departure a “big loss” for the show and acknowledging that Medley definitely had a “rough season” on the show. As for joining the show herself, Quarles is a bit more cagey, telling Yontef “I can’t confirm nor deny.”. She went on to say “Listen, I’m the ultimate New Yorker,” she said. “So I’m just saying if it happens, it’s all good…They’re wonderful. It’s a bomb franchise. So you know, it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be”
Just as word about Quarles possibly joining the show started making the rounds, another name has emerged that might be mixing it up with the ladies of #RHONY this season. Page Six is reporting that motivational speak Bershan Shaw is rumored to be joining the ladies this season. A production source disclosed to Page Six that Shaw has already filmed with “some of the cast, but nothing is official yet.” Shaw’s career and background is varied with her website describing her as both a motivational speaker and TV personality. Shaw is also a cancer survivor, saying on her site “I am a stage 4 breast cancer thriver and this journey has prepared me to live my best life. I help transform the lives of leaders and business owners to get what they want from their business.”
As two new women possibly start their career as Real Housewives, a woman that helped define the genre from its inception is departing her own city after a decade plus career holding a peach. Nene Leakes announced this week that she would be departing the show that she helped put on the reality show map. In a video posted on Instagram, Leakes said in part “I’m just so happy that I can say that I was a part of a genre that opened doors for black ensemble reality shows.”
For his part, Bravo honcho Andy Cohen posted a lovely tribute to Leakes, quoting some of her most iconic lines from her career as a Housewife, and including a pic taken of the two of them at Palace in South Beach, where Leakes and Cohen could sometimes be seen taking in a show featuring legendary drag performer Tiffany Fantasia.
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Nene Leakes is an icon of the genre. She is a gif and catchphrase machine. In 11 years of #WWHL, Nene has been our most frequent guest, and she is always A BLAST. Nene nicknamed me “Buttercup” the first day we met, and still calls me that today. Through her whole run, she has always had a serious concern and drive to maintain the success and well-being of #RHOA. I am going to miss Nene on the show, but I’m hoping we work together again soon and will remain in each other’s orbits forever. XO, Buttercup. #Bloop #LowDownMonkeyWithAWig #CloseYourLegsToMarriedMen #WeSeeEachOthah #ISaidWhatISaid #TrumpCheck #ByeWig #SoNastyAndSoRude #Buttercup
“The Real Housewives of New York City” airs this Wednesday night on Bravo (check local listings)