Wig tosses, a wicked rendezvous with Bolo – Atlanta’s most notorious exotic dancer, rounds of private jet pettiness (yes, that’s a thing) and a contentious cooking class with Big Freeda – season 13 of The Real Housewives of Atlanta did not lack in entertainment.
And newcomer Drew Sidora was in the thick of it all
If we may say so, Drew Sidora was a refreshing addition to the series. She joined the ladies of RHOA with vulnerability, an occasional hot temper, and dramatic real life storylines—namely a rocky patch with her husband Ralph Pittman.
When we met the couple, their marriage certainly took center stage
We witnessed the two argue about an abrupt and unplanned three day trip to Tampa, FL that Ralph Pittman embarked on solo. The argument became so intense that Drew Sidora stopped filming and went to another room to remove her mic pack.
Love can hurt, right? Prior to things going off the rails, they were enjoying some food and stuff while celebrating their anniversary.
“Obviously my marriage had some issues,” Drew Sidora says about her introduction. “It was almost like a vicious cycle and we put dealing with it on the back burner. The show forced us to actually address it and see if we had a chance to improve things.”
Aside from quarreling with her husband, the Chicago native also got into it with a few of her new castmates—which was super fun to watch, duh. One time even she said, “Don’t f— with me. I’m from Chicago, b*tch,” to a cast member who really peeved her. Yikes!
Look familiar? Aside from RHOA, you guys have seen her on your television before!
Prior to holding a peach on RHOA (it’s what the housewives in Atlanta do, you guys), Drew Sidora had graced the small screen in Girlfriends, That’s So Raven, The Game, and VH1’s CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story. The latter two credits arguably being her most notable.
“The Game is the big one,” Drew Sidora says regarding her roles. “That’s the one where I feel like most people know me from. But for me, I would say my most meaningful project was the TLC biopic. I was such a huge TLC fan.”
In the VH1 flick, she played Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins alongside Keke Palmer who played Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Lil Mama who played Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.
“I loved T-Boz growing up and in the film, not only did I have to capture her emotionally but I had to do a lot of work to capture her physically as well, because they were super fit [back then],” Drew Sidora says about the film. “They had their little six packs, and, like… I just had a baby. So I had to get in emotional and crazy physical shape in order to play her.”
Um, imagine if you had to play T-Boz right after you gave birth—do you remember the “Waterfalls” video, Hollywood fam?
At least on a non-scripted reality show, humans just get to be themselves and they don’t have to do crunches and burpees and stuff to look like someone with amazing abs, right? Instead, they get to enjoy delicious food in very expensive homes—as well as almost physically fight their frenemies, sometimes. It sounds like a pretty enjoyable gig.
“Whew! It was a roller coaster,” says Drew Sidora regarding her debut season on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. “Fun, crazy, good, triflin’, scandalous—all of those things. All of them.”
Oh. Indeed, Drew. Indeed.
Heck, before the season even premiered, the show was generating jaw-dropping buzz all over the internet
Salacious headlines of mainstay housewife and sometimes eyewear designer Cynthia Bailey’s dungeon-themed bachelorette party in Charleston, SC, swirled across the internet after rumors of an X-Rated rendezvous between two of the RHOA housewives and Bolo, the dungeon’s exotic dancer (and also—Atalanta’s most notorious stripper), were alleged.
“Ahh, Strippergate,” Drew Sidoria exhales when we mention Bolo. “I will never be able to live down Strippergate—like, Bolo will forever be a household name, for sure.”
We don’t know about all that, Drew. But Bolo will certainly find a way to profit off his infamous (and alleged) RHOA afterparty antics.
P.S. – Quietly murmur Bolo to yourself several times, slowly. It’s oddly calming. Thank you, Bolo.
Also, before the season premiere, the most controversial Atlanta housewife NeNe Leakes publicized her high-stress stalemate with the network regarding her season 13 contract. Shortly thereafter, the Glee actress announced that she would not be returning to the show.
She went on to feud with Wendy Williams on social media regarding her departure from the show, called Andy Cohen a racist, and begged fans to boycott Bravo.
Sheesh, all that went down before we even got to meet Drew Sidora and watch her do things like put her hands on her hips and smile during the show’s opening credits.
If we’re keeping it one-hundred, Drew Sidora didn’t come in too, too hot – it was a gradual build up
During the first few episodes, Drew Sidora was primarily confined to her home and didn’t film much with the other housewives. However, by the finale, the Step Up actress may have exited as the season’s VIP.
“When you guys met me on the show, I was in a literal boot,” Drew Sidora says about her debut. She was recovering from her third surgery on her Achilles tendon. Ouch!
“And we had the passing of my father-in-law. Plus, 2020. With all of that going on, I was just not my most fabulous self. It did take some time for me to really get a chance to hang out with everyone. But when I did, I instantly connected with a lot of the ladies.”
She went on to rattle off the names of every woman on the show, except for two—fellow newbie and “friend of the cast” LaToya Ali, and iconic queen of shade Kenya Moore.
“For me, it was just the lack of realness and all of the below-the-belt attacks regarding my personal life, my son, my weight – those things are really hard,” Drew Sidora says about her tense relationship with Kenya Moore.
“I feel like at the end of the day, we’re all women. We’re all black women. And during this time specifically, there are certain things that we should not be bashing and doing. Body shaming is one of them. That was really difficult to deal with emotionally. We have to do better, especially with the platforms we have. It’s our responsibility, because there’s a lot of people watching.”
NeNe Leakes not returning to the show had some fans worried about the future of the franchise. The larger-than-life personality can be credited for consistently bringing the funny, the messy and the downright absurdity to The Real Housewives of Atlanta. But with the additions of Drew Sidora and LaToya Ali, the show didn’t miss a beat.
The dynamic newbies brought us the perfect amount of goofy, real, messy, and real messy
Joining a popular franchise during its thirteenth season is not an easy feat—add in a global pandemic and a racy bachelorette trip that will orbit in the housewives universe until the end of time, Drew Sidora’s debut season was a super tall order to take on.
HOLLYWOOD.COM: Congrats, you just came off your first season on one of Bravo’s brightest juggernauts. We bet it’s been intense shifting from living your everyday life to suddenly having a megawatt spotlight on you.
Drew Sidora: Totally. I had to adjust quite a bit. Being my first season, I definitely wasn’t prepared for all of it, you know? I was trying to figure out the [cast] dynamics most of the season and understand why we were not discussing certain things. I was trying to get to know everyone and connect. And then the fans of the show have opinions and I welcome that, but there’s a lot of scrutiny. Everything you do, say and wear are picked apart. It can be a lot.
HW: Stay off the socials!
DS: I tried! The main advice I was given was ‘stay out of the comments, don’t read the comments.’ And, of course, that’s easier said than done because… I found myself in the comments and saw some things and was, like, “OK, this is real.”
But the most gratifying thing has been having people reach out on social, to say that they were going through marital issues and what they saw [my husband and I go through] triggered something for them and it inspired them to seek counseling.
HW: You and Ralph Pittman went through it for a minute there, for sure.
DS: Yeah, of course, and us showing our marital issues in the way that we did, wasn’t something that I was expecting to have happen either. Marriage is not easy. To share all of that, was a lot. Thankfully for us, we got into counseling—and we’re still going—it’s really helped. You learn so much about your spouse and about yourself. Like, if you’re having issues, definitely don’t shy away from counseling. It’s a good thing.
HW: That is awesome to hear. Especially because you’re, like, under this weird new microscope with all of these unwanted opinions, I’m sure.
DS: Yeah, like about my wigs!
HW: Ha! Man, can’t we just leave the wigs alone?
[Laughter. So much laughter.]
DS: Well, it was just, like, one person–well actually, like, two people who love to watch me and pick me apart. But I take it as a compliment when people want to watch you. That means you are entertaining, I guess – or are something to be watched.
HW: Hot. Damn. OK, hang on a sec. Let us do some quick math. Um, person number one is Kenya Moore. And person number two is LaToya Ali.
HW: The LaToya Ali drama is so confusing though, because you guys seemed cool for a second and then…it just went left. Like, completely left!
DS: I tried to connect with all of the ladies. I walked into the situation, very genuine and I tried to connect. And it’s fine if you don’t connect with everyone but I’m always going to put in the effort. Unfortunately, some of the ladies didn’t give me that same chance. They just wanted to throw their little shade and be negative.
HW: Your approach felt authentic to us. You came onto the show being a real human with real human issues.
DS: And that’s the crazy part, because it was 2020 and we were in such unprecedented times. You would think that would put everyone’s life into perspective; what’s important, what’s worth prioritizing, you know? For me, it was a time where I just wanted to be myself and focus less on all of the vanity and get back to important humanistic connections. We all have a chance to make things better.
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