The star of "Don't Be Tardy," and former Real Housewife of Atlanta, opens up about her stroke, the demands of being a reality star and mother, and what it was like being the only white woman on "Real Housewives of Atlanta."
Photos courtesy of NBC Universal
Kim Zolciak is one woman who has accomplished a great many dreams: She married a beautiful football player, released a song called "Tardy to the Party," and appeared on reality television for eight years. In 2008, Zolciak made her TV regular debut as one of the original Real Housewives of Atlanta. While most Housewives last a few seasons—and then get booted or quit and, if they're very lucky, star on a spin-off that crashes and burns—Zolciak lasted five seasons on the show and then landed a successful spin-off called Don't Be Tardy. Its fifth season premieres next week on September 14.
The new season follows Zolciak and her six kids while her husband, NFL player Kroy Biermann, is a free agent looking for a new team. While dealing with the fallout from her mini-stroke, Zolciak also tries to become the next Kris Jenner, managing her daughter, Brielle, who tries to find work as an entertainment reporter.
This week, we sat down with Zolciak to discuss the stroke, the difficulties of raising six kids on television, and being the only white woman on Real Housewives of Atlanta.
BROADLY: What will we see on the new season?
Kim Zolciak: What won't you see, honey? You see the struggle of free agency. He had been at the Atlanta Falcons for eight years; that's nerve-racking, exciting. Had I not had a stroke, I probably wouldn't look at it as an adventure, but I do now. Just the struggle of the stroke—I was on Dancing with the Stars [at the time]—having to live a normal life and not have the fear of [medical problems], [being] a mom of six kids, [supporting] my husband in free agency and his dream. Yes, six kids; it's not like I can go and find a house anywhere [if Kroy lands a job in another state].
How has the show affected your kids?
We love it. We are who we are. I've always taught my daughters to love who they are. But I do think social media has affected the show and the impact it's had on my girls. I feel like I have to constantly manage comments [on one daughter's page] and block people on Ariana's. I'm trying to figure out what they're on: Periscope, Snapchat. The social media aspect of it is my biggest challenge. Some of the stuff people say to a 14-year-old [online] is un-fucking-believable to me. It's a full-time job for me! They're just fucking gross. Some lady wrote today on the Don't Be Tardy page, she's like, "Kim never had a stroke. She's just looking for attention." I personally went on that page and said, "Let me tell you something: I actually had a stroke, and I don't there's a person on this planet who would ask for a stroke for attention. There are 100 other ways you can get attention." Sometimes I do get a little fired up.
What does it feel like to have been on reality TV for so long?
I never get used to it. Let's be honest: The first four, almost five years, of my career on [Real] Housewives of Atlanta was a lot of stress. I always had people coming at me that I'm racist, I'm this, I'm that. It was five black women and me! I just am who I am. I have grown tremendously—as I should—over the past ten years. In the last five, I've gotten to film with my family. I've had four children, married someone eight years younger than me. It's been a whirlwind. There's no acting here. Sometimes it's so crazy, but it is what it is. I cuss but I don't even think about it because I'm so frazzled. It's life.
Is Tardy easier than Housewives since the first show gave you reality TV experience?
Oh my god, yes! Filming with your family every day, it doesn't get any better than that. Housewives was tough yet fun. There's a lot of things I did on Housewives that I wouldn't have done without that show. I dreamed of being a one-hit wonder. I got it. Don't Be Tardy was a huge hit. I traveled. I have absolutely no regrets. I feel one stepping stone leads to another.
Do you still feel like a Real Housewife?
Sometimes. I will always feel like a Housewife. I never would have met my husband if I had never done that show. I have no hard feelings towards that show whatsoever. That show made me who I am today. I'm stronger than I've ever been. It was very difficult at times for me. If I wasn't pregnant, I probably wouldn't have left. I decided, "Just fuck it." There isn't enough money in the world for me to keep doing this. Never had an offer to do my own show, never thought that would happen. I just would never sell my soul to the devil.
Has reality TV changed the perception of women?
No. If anything has changed about women in general, they've done that basically to themselves. You look at people who capitalized on [themselves] like the Kardashians. People aspire to be them. Kim has kids [and] a great husband. Kourtney, she's a single mom with three kids. Khloe, she doesn't have any. Then there's Kris, who is the momager. I'm running Brielle's career, and I'm so fucking overwhelmed. I'm not comparing myself to them in anyways, but Kris is incredible. People need to look at that! She has run all their careers, and look at all of them as individuals. That is insane!
What's the biggest misunderstanding about you?
I think people think that I have all this time to get plastic surgery. I've been filming straight for so many years, and/or pregnant, that I wish I had the time. Whatever I have done, I've shared publicly. I don't need [to have plastic surgery]. I'm fucking 38 years old. Talk to me in ten years.