I’ve mentioned here several times that the cast of Real Housewives of Atlanta was paid $5,000 for their entire season when the show debuted in Atlanta. Now the top paid person on RHOA makes 20 times that amount per episode. Nene Leakes is of course that person and she also has a “most favored nation” clause in her contract to insure no one else, and in particular Kim Zolciak, does not make more per episode than she does. It’s also the reason Nene is not included in all the episodes.
Bethenny Frankel disclosed that the RHONY season one cast made 50% more on their first season.
Bethenny told InStyle magazine:
On being taken seriously… In the beginning, I wasn’t. But it was what it was. I shouldn’t have been taken seriously in the beginning; I had no value. Or I didn’t know the value I would have yet. I was a person that Bravo was hiring for $7,250 for the entire first season of [Real Housewives]. But I knew what I wanted, which was to keep anything that I did in business. If you go on a reality show, you have to give a percentage [of any business you promote on the show] to the network—but I never did that. The industry ended up calling it “The Bethenny Clause.” So that was very destructive in the industry, but I only got paid $7,250—and I was keeping whatever I earned. But I was nobody; I had(n’t) accomplished anything yet, really.
Bethenny also explained that the financial ups and downs of her childhood played a role in her tenacity to be sure she was taken care of. Bethenny has talked about her childhood a good bit in some of her books and other interviews. Doubters have acted like the fact she was sent to decent schools for high school that got her accepted into a good college means that her family didn’t have financial difficulty but that is just not true.
Bethenny told Instyle:
“I grew up around a racetrack where there was a lot of feast or famine and gambling. It created what I call ‘money noise.’ My room was completely decorated, but the rest of the house had no furniture in it. The dining table was literally a card table, and my stepfather would be asking me to break into my piggy bank to cover his bets. But then at the same time, we’d have multiple cars in the driveway. It was a very up-and-down type of thing, seeing glamour and limousines but then having nothing.”
“I always thought that everything was sort of going to be okay,” she says. But when she headed to college, that changed. “I was pretty much on my own, and that’s when I had to start worrying about money and working. I knew that there was really no one who was ever going to take care of me, so I just had to take care of myself.”
Samantha Simon’s interview with Bethenny on InStyle is one of the best I’ve read and I strongly encourage you to click the link and read the whole thing. It does not disappoint.