Does Nene Leakes deserve to cover Ebony magazine?

Reality TV’s reining diva, Nene Leakes, landed on the cover of the December issue of Ebony Magazine, and some people are not pleased.

The cover finds Leakes seductively bathing in tub full of diamonds while holding a glass of bubbly and serving up her best 100-watt smile. The tagline? “Nene Leakes Gets Her Hollywood Hustle On.”

Leakes heads up Ebony’s annual “Money and Power” issue, which lists the 100 most influential African Americans of the year, and many are crying foul at her inclusion.

But should they?

Although she served up major drama along side her cast mates on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, Leakes has parlayed her reality show antics into two meaty roles on network TV. She scored a recurring role on Fox’s hit show Glee and landed a part on the NBC comedy, The New Normal. Leakes also recently signed on with a licensing agency to create a clothing and accessories line.  So the Atlanta diva has definitely been making power moves as of late–making a transition most reality stars are unable to pull off–but does she deserve to grace the cover of Ebony, one of black America’s most storied publications?

According to Demetria Lucas, frequent CLUTCH contributor and former associate editor at Essence, the answer is a resounding no.

Lucas wrote on Facebook: “Really, Ebony? Really? Is this a joke?” and likened the picture of Leakes to one better suited for the skin mag Black Tail.

Despite this objection, it’s hard to deny that black folks have helped Leakes attain her success. Many black women have been staunch supporters of Real Housewives of Atlanta, making it the cable network’s most popular draw, and Leakes has remained its most talked about personality. So can we really be mad at Ebony for giving people what they obviously want?

Make no mistake about it; Ebony magazine is an institution. It has graced newsstands since 1945 and has had prominent black folks from the President and civil rights leaders, to legendary artists and entertainers on the cover. Moreover, it offers hard-hitting news stories on many issues that affect our community from politics and education, to mass incarceration and healthcare. However, these days magazines are quickly losing readers to digital outlets and a cover that capitalizes on RHOA’s success may be just what the publication needs.

Ebony boasts that it is “more than a magazine, it’s a movement,” but does allowing Nene Leakes—one of reality TV’s biggest bullies—fall in line with that mission?

You tell us.

  • Malik Hemmans

    NO! i’m still trying to figure out what she does for a living

  • Cocochanel31

    While the cover is not the best ..I guess my response is Why not? I looove the content of the new Ebony under Amy DuBois ?Barnett, and whether we like Nene personally or not, she made herself a household name after being a random nameless woman only what four or five years ago? She represents having achieved “The American Dream” for many. Besides, Essence and Ebony have THE SAME FIVE BLACK ACTORS AND ACTRESSES on their covers year after year.

    Give someone else a chance!

  • African Mami

    First and foremost, Ebony is a business…….keep that in mind, ALWAYS. That way, you won’t be surprised by the people who are featured on its front pages.

  • Terez (@TerezBaskin)

    Did you forget she also has a wine brand? I think she is working her way to being a brand. She is the reason RHOA is on the air according to reports from her and Andy Cohen. She had acting experience and really is the most popular housewife and deserves her due. She is influential to the scores of women that watch. The cover, well that is just a great PR move. People will pick it up just because they want to know why she made the coveted spot. Kudos to her and her success. I cannot be mad.

  • Ms. Write

    “Despite this objection, it’s hard to deny that black folks have helped Leakes attain her success.” I don’t know why we people are fronting on Nene like people don’t watch RHOA, Basketball Wives and the like giving her and her ilk the fame and fortune to grace Ebony, Vibe etc.

  • d_nicegirl


  • Ms. Write

    Exactly! I’m glad somebody pointed that out. There are only so many times you can put Nia Long on the cover in a year. Lol

  • Korrell

    THIS! Black people acting like they mad at Ebony but they are the number one viewers and supporters of RHOA. Please stop black folks – you can’t play both sides. Go Ebony!

  • Pseudonym

    Are people actually buying and reading “Ebony Magazine?”

    I thought it had gone the way of the VCR.

  • silkynaps

    Personally, I like NeNe. She’s the only interesting person on RHOA. I like how checks herself. In the beginning, she was a plum fool. She saw herself on TV and toned it down.

    As far as I’m concerned, there’s no problem with NeNe. If anything, there’s a problem with US. Crabs in a barrel don’t need a lid because they will always try to pull one another down.

    With so much hate, jealousy, and vitriol all over the net regarding Black people, sometimes, I feel the only people that have a problem with Black people are Black people.

  • -A.

    i won’t deny that she has a nasty ass attitude and has no shame allowing the entertainment industry capitalize on that. But I will not knock her hustle, which is legitimate, and frankly relevant right now. She may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but she’s making great strides for herself.

  • khrish67


  • Child, Please

    So, a reality TV idiot gets a cover spread on Ebony cover before Rihanna, Journee, Kelly Rowland (?), and countless others with actual talent/notoriety/non-jump off fame. I don’t like Nene, her brand and i’m not even one of those “black people” who watch her shows (clutch, stop with generalizing us; “some” and “most” are words for a reason!). I like Ebony, but this was really low and to justify it by saying at least it isn’t the same celeb we see on every other cover is outright bull if I ever heard it.

  • Mase

    Some does equal most in this case. Check the ratings. No generalizations here.

  • Kim-Bufalo

    Absolutely deserve to be on the cover. Putting aside all the drama of the Housewives she earned and paid her dues. I love it.

  • Cocochanel31

    Alot of those “common” celebs have been on Ebony’s covers..numerous times over actually.

  • Real Talk

    She is nothing more than a glamed up New York or female Flava Flav. A bunch of black sterotypes for others outside of the community to confirm that there is some truth in them. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a Jew reality show. Guess we know who controls what you all see and hear.

    You can put lipstick on a turd but it’s still a piece of sh*t. At least she has an (ex) husband who seems to have some semblance of intelligence. There is a chance for growth. We will see.

  • Truth Sayer

    Kelly was on the cover of Ebony this year. Do you read the mag or are you just talking?

    Rihanna has yet to cover a Black mag and I’m wondering if it isn’t because she hasn’t been asked…

  • Gennatay (@gennatay)

    Who are we to determine who “deserves” what in life? If her personality and hustle got her to where she is today than KUDOS for her! Most of us wish we can be in her position just by “doing you”.

  • Child, Please

    I do read the mag a-hole hence the question mark b/c I couldn’t remember seeing her on there. I read Ebony quite frequently and as I’ve state, they haven’t done ish like this before. Please don’t talk to me out the side of your anal crevice; I know what i’m talking about. I find it quite funny clutch and it’s bogus readers find it an uter annoyance with Essence placing the same women on its covers, but Ebony does this – which is very much a slap in the face to the readers and the brand it has – and it’s gumdrops, roses and fairies. Miss me with that bullsh!t! It amazes me to no avail that folks will dig Kim K. another one for her come up, but because Nene is black (because that’s really what it is) she gets a pass when her come up is no freaking different. But I guess if she’s hustling harder than the two dolar hooker on a corner it doesn’t matter. She’s rich right?

  • Child, Please

    “Some” and “most” are NOT equivalent on any universe. Please go back to school.

  • Joy

    Real: RU insecure or what? I don’t know I’m just asking because you are concerned about what “other outside the community” think. Personally who cares what other people think. It appears ur eluding to what white people think. I don’t know about you; but white people don’t rule me.

  • Joy

    Gennatay: Thanks for the common sense comments

  • Joy

    -A: How is the entertainment industry capitalizing on NeNe? It goes both ways……she’s getting paid. Her net worth is now almost 5 Mil.

  • Joy

    Child: I think Kelly Rowland is very beautiful. But what has she done lately to warrant being on any cover? Kelly’s singing career is barely on cruise; in fact her career is more in an idle mode; it’s not moving at all.

  • stacyaustralia

    Or Jill Scott, Sanaa Lathan…

  • stacyaustralia

    Like most of you mentioned I do not necessarily care for the cover (it looks really cheap) but I have no problems with her being on the cover. I was a fan of RHOA some seasons ago and I’ve witnessed her acting a fool. However she has mad hustle. I am not going to take that away from her. I’m trying to figure out how I can get on somewhere (without acting the fool). No offense but the white people do it all the time. She took her nasty attitude and belligerent ways and made it work. It’s not something I would do but hey can’t knock the hustle.

  • RJ

    Ebony has long stood as a reflection of black culture. Unfortunately, she represents the get money at any cost hustle that some of us have embraced. I personally cannot stand to watch most of these shows because I feel my IQ slowly draining as I watch (I include all non- talent related shows in this mix-Kardashians, Bachelor…).

    I personally would rather see a less clownish person on the cover. So I will keep my dollars to myself and bypass this issue. It is that simple.

  • RJ

    All criticism is should not be classified as hate or jealousy. Believe you me, I do not feel one bit of envy in regards to this woman. She will have to do this song and dance forever and that is no way to live.

  • mEE

    …clearly the article just said she’s an actress.

  • Egypt

    I see Ebony, too, is desperate for clicks…. I hate to see magazines cheapen themselves, just to go along with the hype. If people no longer support print…so be it. Use this as a opportunity to be innovative, and stop thinking in terms of what use to be.

  • mEE

    I feel what you’re saying in regards to someone like a Kim Kardashian who even though we see a more…”domestic” side of her now is still in many ways selling sex. but I don’t feel that way towards Nene.
    I don’t know if you watch RHOA, but in my opinion she has really evolved since the show started. maybe it took seeing herself on tv acting a fool to convince her to change her behavior. who know?

  • Whatever

    I totally agree. Also, I would like to point out that right now the content in Ebony is much better than Essence at the moment so anyone affiliated with Essence shouldn’t be throwing shade.

    Nene has managed to do very well for herself and I am happy to see her land a spot on a prime time television. I’m fine with her being on the cover.I’m pretty sure she had a say in the cover since she created a shoot just like this one when she was on the Apprentice on NBC.

  • godivabap

    Deserve? I mean, its Ebony Magazine. Not exactly the pinnacle of publishing prestige and elegance. And Kelly Rowland has been on the cover.

    Its the money and power issue. As i understand it, NeNe is the architect of RHOA and now flipped its success into legitimate acting gigs. Warrants a feature and her on the cover will sell like hotcakes.

  • YouHave2Wonder

    My d*mn finger slipped. +1 your comment. Nene was able to make something out of nothing.

  • Downsouth Transplant

    Mee, what she did up until GLEE does does not fall under the defination of acting sorry. Actor literally “one who interprets”; in this sense, an actor is one who interprets a dramatic character, unless she is a caricature in RHOA?

  • binks

    Well if she can be in prestigious VOGUE magazine (who stated no reality stars ever) posing with her cast mates I see no issue why she shouldn’t be on the cover of Ebony. Love her or hate her Nene is smart by flipping her image and branding herself OUTSIDE from reality tv. And honestly Nene may not be a saint but she isn’t nearly the WORST reality tv personnel on tv. She working hard for her successful and trying to maintain it so yeah she deserves it whether you like her or agree with her is a personal issue. Not everybody have humble and quiet beginnings….

  • Joyful1

    Ebony Magazine now has an iPad app. It’s pretty cool.

  • K. Moore

    For all that,you could’ve put Phaedra Parks on the cover. At least she’s the ONLY housewife with a REAL career. Nene is a obnoxious,loud mouth,big bird shaped,monkey teeth,tall bitch.

  • The Other Jess

    More evidence that Ebony has gone straight down the tubes since the death of its founder. John H. Johnson would never allow such ignorance on the cover of his magazine. His daughter is sinking Ebony to a new trashy low.

    Mr. Johnson had pride and integrity and understood that everything is not about money – unfortunately, his daughter obviously only cares about the almighty dollar and doesn’t care what images she promotes. Won’t be buying.

  • -A.

    cap·i·tal·ize/ˈkapətlˌīz/ Verb:

    1) Take the chance to gain advantage from.
    2) Provide (a company or industry) with capital: “a highly capitalized industry”.

    See definition 2. My assertion is not that her relationship with the industry is parasitic, but in fact, is mutually beneficial. They use her as she is in parts many other actresses feel are too stereotypical to take on, ie. loud, ghetto, black woman. It annoys some, but in truth, there are many other women like her. She’s taking the “sassy” roles many feel they are now too good for, using the money from that for other ventures and then laughing all the way to the bank. ‘Tis legitimate business.

    Like I said before, I won’t knock her hustle[...]she’s making great strides for herself.

  • interior design

    Ebony has to survive, sink or swim. There was a time when they would be above all that but times have changed.

  • Malik Hemmans


  • Wow

    Then how about let’s shift to innovative up and comers like Issa Rae or Adepero Oduye (actress in Pariah)? This is a multimillion dollar publication; somebody has to have some creativity and vision there! And I am tired of seeing the same 10 black actors and actresses, lol!

  • Wow

    Then how about let’s shift to innovative up and comers like Issa Rae or Adepero Oduye (actress in Pariah)? This is a multimillion dollar publication; somebody has to have some creativity and vision there! And I am tired of seeing the same 10 black actors and actresses, lol

  • Wow

    Then how about let’s shift to innovative up and comers like Issa Rae or Adepero Oduye (actress in Pariah)? This is a multimillion dollar publication; somebody has to have some creativity and vision there! And I am tired of seeing the same 10 black actors and actresses!

  • Blue

    I can see this on Vibe, XXL, or any other Hip Hop gossip magazines. But Ebony is known for more class, refinement & maturity. They certainly fell off on this one

  • SS25

    Demetria Lucas has some nerves to talk about Ebony. Essence put Reggie Bush on their black love issue, a black man who LOVES non-black women. She also defended DL Hughley’s ignorant ass comments about black women. She likes to write/tweet things that will get HER more press. I can’t stand her or essence!!

  • Pseudonym

    I’ll give it a look one of these days. I became disinterested a long time ago b/c in 2005, Ebony Magazine was still stuck in 1989, so I just wrote it off as being for Old Timers.

    (I know one of the guys from VerySmartBrothas posts on their website nowadays.)

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  • Mina

    I wouldn’t say she doesn’t deserve it because she’s making a huge breakthrough and has gone on to star in other network cable shows like Glee and The New Normal. I don’t watch either one though or RHOA and yeah we all know Nene is a big mouth gossip but I’m glad she’s getting more opportunities and I hope she can improve and become more humble and polite. What doesn’t deserve to get the cover is Nene’s boobs. I’d rather not come home to finding a magazine cover in the mail with a half naked woman on it. Even if she’s covered in diamonds, I don’t find it cute.

    But anyway no shade thrown at Nene. Don’t really care.

  • chicnoir


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  • Lori

    I’m certain putting her on the cover will not raise monthly sales at newspaper stands. The millennial generation is so used to receiving content for free that they don’t buy magazines at the same rate, or for the same reasons that anyone over 40 might. Pandering to an audience that you hope to capture, rather than building upon and trying to retain an audience you already have is just bad business. My parents have subscribed to Ebony for 40 years — out of habit. I’m 35 and grew up reading Ebony, but I wouldn’t subscribe to it today. I prefer to get my information — even the hard news related, specifically to blacks, elsewhere. From outlets that I deem to be more serious. And as for entertainment, which is why I loved it when I was young. … Well, too often, they profile people that I either care nothing about (i.e. Leakes) or know nothing about (Nikki Minaj).

  • chanela17chanela

    why the hell would black women be jealous of someone who constantly yells,fights,and embarrasses the shyt out of her race on the daily?

    despite how filthy she acts, we’re supposed to want to be her simply because she gets paid to act a fool? SMH

  • chanela17chanela

    @child please

    i can’t believe you got thumbed down for that! smh i totally agree. for some reason the black community has no problem with how people gain their success (no matter how vile and embarrassing) as long as they have money.

    apparently we are “haters” and jealous of her. how the hell is a grown woman yelling and fighting every week something to be jealous of or proud of?

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  • PhoenixRose360

    It’s conveniently coming out when RHOA is starting back up…they’re in the business to sell magazines, enough said

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  • Love Sosa

    photoshopped to hell

  • lauryn


  • chinaza

    Well, why not? What are the criteria that exclude her? A black magazine can represent all facets of black regardless of our personal taste.
    Nene is a creation of herself and popular culture. Who defines popular culture? We do.

  • Sean

    ^^^^ What sHE just said!

  • Dee

    I will NOT be renewing my subscription.

  • momteacher

    If neck rolling, eye popping, profanity, hostility, pretension and loud, audacious behavior are desirable and enviable traits to be highlighted, then perhaps it is acceptable for Nene Leakes to be featured on a magazine cover touting ‘power’. Maybe it does not matter that she has outrageous behavior and that she promotes an unattractive stereotype. She has parlayed buffoonery into personal success. Apparently there are not enough other options to represent achievement in the African American community.

  • Dee

    People need to stop hating. Yes she deserves it, she’s in the entertainment industry not the role modeling industry. She has the personality and popularity to draw people in rather for positive or negative reasons. Shes doing her thing and getting rich and famous off of it, lets be honest most of these people who have nasty or negative thing to say about NeNe was in her shoes they would living this attention up. This just shows how jealous and hateful can be towards someone who is doing better than them.

  • Richard

    Spot on momteacher

  • Richard

    Based on your feedback, I’ll assume you’ve been raised on a diet of TV. Not you fault, We let you down so that you don’t understand the full breadth of your cultural legacy. There were those in the struggle how died to give us the right we so enjoy today. But, you don’t this history so it understandable that you would feel like you do.

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