Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey isn't your typical housewife. Having already conquered the modeling world, Bailey has her sights set on other ventures, and her role on the wildly popular Bravo television series is only the tip of the iceberg. With the Bailey Agency School of Fashion flourishing in its first year of operation, she's made the transition from full-time supermodel to full-time boss.

Now, with the fifth season of RHOA set to premiere tomorrow night at 9 p.m., things are about to get even more hectic for the supermodel turned pop culture personality.  We caught up with Bailey and talked business, reality TV politics, and, of course, cast member drama. This housewife keeps it real!

Interview by Julian Patterson (@JulianPatterson)

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Prior to joining the Real Housewives you made a name for yourself as a model. How did you get in to modeling?
I actually was discovered in a homecoming queen beauty pageant, and one of the judges was a model scout for Wilhelmina Models in New York City.

 

Kim & I actually got along [this season] because she was in her motherly way most of the time. And it is not fun when you argue with a pregnant lady. I have been down that road!

 

Since then, on the last season of the show, you opened the Bailey Agency School of Fashion. What's the status of that right now?
It's actually doing pretty well. I just celebrated my one-year anniversary, and we are moving to a larger location by the end of the year. Also, we did a really successful model search tour where we found an amazing 14-year-old supermodel who you will be hearing a lot about in the next year. I incorporated pageants under the Bailey Agency as well. The school is actually a really big part of my storyline this season, so you will get to see how that has all evolved since last season.

Your husband, Peter, opened up a bar last season, too. How do you balance running two businesses with also having to maintain your marriage?
It’s difficult. Peter opened Bar One, just around the time that I opened up the Bailey Agency. We were having some financial issues—shown in the previous season—which we have worked through and are still working through, but it was really important for us to invest in new businesses. It's tough sometimes because we really don’t get to spend a lot of time together. It's also kind of fun because it’s like "the Bailey Agency is doing this," and "Bar One is doing that," so it is kind of fun to have these two businesses going.

Essentially you guys push each other to do bigger and better things every day?
Yes, we definitely support each other. I do everything I can to incorporate something I'm doing at my school with the restaurant, like after parties—we had our one-year celebration at Bar One, of course. Anytime he needs pretty people to do things at Bar One, we can work together. He is my number one client, and I guess I am kind of his number one client as well. I am the first person he calls if he needs something. [Laughs.]

We can't forget about the other housewives on the show. How do you juggle the various personalities that are always around you?
I just try to go with the flow. Working with six different female personalities can definitely be challenging. I think this season you are going to see a more vocal, feisty Cynthia. I feel like I am at a place in my life where even though I am definitely caught up in a lot of drama this season, I really handle it a lot differently. I don’t have patience for a lot of things because I am busy working hard. I definitely try to shut things down before they get out of control, because we all know that issues can linger and things become bigger and bigger.

You and Kim [Zolciak] have had your differences. Have you made up since?
Kim and I have never been BFFs, obviously. But the great part of that is she has been pregnant most of the time so I didn’t have to see her that much. [Laughs.] We really didn’t bump heads as much because I didn’t see her. We actually got along because she was in her motherly way most of the time. And it is not fun when you argue with a pregnant lady. I have been down that road!

You have cameras and production crews following you around all the time. Do you ever get used to having a camera in your face 24/7?
I’ve gotten more used to it, but I think there is always a part of me that is a model, so if I see a camera, I want to look good at all times. I think I am always aware because I have been trained to always be aware and try to look good if someone is filming me or taking a picture of me.

A lot of people who watch reality TV perceive that sometimes it isn’t real, that it may be staged. Is there any truth to this?
Our show—I can’t speak for every reality television show but I can tell you for ours—is definitely real. The only things that are kind of set up sometimes are situations. But you don’t know what outcome of that situation is going to be. They’ll say, “Today you are going to go shopping with Candy,” but in reality TV world, yeah we’re going to go shopping, but I don’t know what bomb she is going to drop on me when we get there. I never know what we are going to talk about or what some of the other ladies may have repeated.

You are kind of under the fence because you are always ready for a bomb to be dropped. I can meet one of the girls for a drink and end up getting into something with them about something that has nothing to do with why we got together in the first place. It just depends on that day and what I am feeling like and what she is feeling like.

 

Our show—I can’t speak for every reality television show, but I can tell you for ours—is definitely real.

 

Do you think Sheree will ever return to Real Housewives of Atlanta or TV at all?
I can’t speak about it in terms of Housewives of Atlanta. I think Sheree definitely was a big part of the show, and her character will definitely live on. In terms of TV, I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear from her somewhere else. I think she definitely has a interesting personality.

Why do you think people feel the way they feel about Sheree?
Reality TV is supposed to be the reality of who we are, for the most part. You have to be very careful of what you put out there because that is what people receive. Whatever you put out to the world every Sunday night on the show is what they are going to receive. So you just have to be ready to deal with what you put out to the world because they receive it, and they receive it very seriously and you have to be able to live with it.

How often do you hang out with some of the other ladies when the cameras aren’t rolling?
I hang out with NeNe the most; we really connected on screen and off screen. She really is typically my best friend on the show, and we spend quite a bit of time together. I also have spent a little bit of time with Candy. We kind of are in the same circles, we are getting to know each other, and our friendship evolves this season. I talk to pretty much all the girls from time to time on the phone with the exception of Kim. Kim doesn’t really call, but for the most part I have a cordial relationship with all the girls, I would say. If I see Kim, I would say hello but we don’t really talk on the phone.

What can we expect to see in this first episode and the rest of the season?
I am not really sure because I haven’t seen the first episode yet. I think something that will be interesting about this season is that we have two new girls, but we did lose one of the veterans. And Kim is pregnant but she is not around as much as she would normally would be, so it has kind of made things different.

I don’t even know what to expect because it just changed the whole dynamic of the group with two people missing and two other ones came in. I think there definitely will be a lot of drama, but we're not as divided as we were last season. We are around each other a lot more this season, which only means more drama! I personally think this is going to be my best season because my storyline is just so much stronger.