A lot has changed since Leah McSweeney’s first season of The Real Housewives of New York City. “We were in a dark place in a lot of ways, with so much illness and unknown that I wasn’t able to fully embrace it,” Leah tells StyleCaster. “We’re coming out of the pandemic. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Leah joined RHONY in season 12, which aired just a couple weeks after the lockdown started in New York. The season also saw Leah and her co-stars—Luann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan—do virtual confessional interviews for the first time. While season 13, which premieres on Tuesday, May 4, was also filmed in the middle of the pandemic, Leah had a much different experience. “At the end of the day, it was so nice to have them and to have the show to do during a time where I probably would’ve been locked up in my apartment, working from home,” she says.
Thanks to RHONY, Leah has also seen growth in her brands, Married to the Mob, a streetwear brand she founded in 2004, and Happy Place, a sleepwear line she launched in November. “[Married to the Mob] grown without a doubt,” she says. “I definitely have a whole new audience. It’s really cool to me to see the brand grow from a niche brand to a little more mainstream with a lot more eyes on it.”
Leah’s time on RHONY has also led to an internet friendship with Rihanna, a well-documented Bravo viewer who’s been a fan of Married to the Mob long before Leah was on RHONY. “We’ve DM’d back and forth. I met her at an after party for the Met Gala one year,” she says. “She’s the fucking baddest bitch in the world. There’s no one hotter and cooler than Rihanna. It’s pretty amazing [to DM with Rihanna.] How I gauge that is I tell my daughter because she isn’t isn’t impressed by anything. So if I tell her and she’s excited about it, then I know it’s worth being excited over. And she was definitely like, ‘Mom, that’s a very big deal.’ I was like, ‘I agree with you.’”
Ahead, Leah talked to StyleCaster about RHONY’s newest Housewife, Eboni K. Williams, Tinsley Mortimer’s breakup with Scott Kluth, and the cast members who told Bravo executives Leah wasn’t a “good fit.”
On how Eboni fit in with the other New York Housewives
“What’s great about Eboni is she came in being like, ‘I’m not going to get hazed.’ She’s like, ‘You’re not putting me in the lower level. You’re not going to haze me.’ She’s holding people accountable in a way that they’ve never been held accountable before. I mean, I don’t mind it. I kind of enjoy it. I was definitely hazed. Oh my God, I was absolutely put through the Singer Ringer. It’s not the Singer Stinger. It’s more like the Ringer. You get put through the Ringer. It’s more of a ring than a sting with Ramona. Me and Eboni, we have different personalities. There are a lot of similarities, but we have different personalities. She came in different than I did.”
On Dorinda leaving RHONY
“I found out at the same time as everyone else. She’s obviously so beloved. She was really there for me last season. Not just on camera, but off camera. After Rhode Island, I left disheveled and broken. Ramona and Sonja didn’t want me on the show after that trip. They’re going to get so mad I’m saying this. There were phone calls made to executives saying I’m not a good fit. I get too crazy when I drink, which is interesting considering how they get. It was rough.I remember waking up and calling Dorinda being like, ‘I don’t feel good.’ She’s like, ‘I know that feeling. Don’t worry. It’s going to be fine. You’re going to go to this tea party and you’re going to make it right.’ She was very maternal in a lot of ways. Not having Tinsley on either. Those were my two confidants in a way, even though they hate each other, but whatever. I miss both of them.”
On Tinsley’s breakup with Scott
“My relationship with Tinsley is great. She’s coming to the city in a few weeks. We’re going to chill. She actually sent me a text today saying, ‘I’m excited to watch you tonight.’ She’s so supportive and so sweet. I was shocked absolutely by that announcement [about her breakup.] I had no idea that was coming. But she’s doing good, and I think she dodged a bullet.”
On why she became sober again
“If you watch season 12, I think that’s the reason why. I don’t talk too much about my sobriety on the show because it just doesn’t come up. I talk about it if it comes up. But it’s not something that drives me everyday. It’s not something that defines me. It’s part of who I am. I didn’t drink for nine years. I wouldn’t say it was easy to switch back to not drinking, but I did have this reference point. Having Luann not drink was really helpful for me because I was like, ‘How the fuck am I going to get through this season without drinking?’ Because we were so limited in what we could do with the restrictions and COVID. How many people we could film with? We couldn’t have parties. In a way, it leaves you very raw and open. There aren’t any distractions. In a way, it was more challenging than usual to not have all that extra stuff.”
On her relationship with the New York Housewives now
“I feel closer with all the women. It’s really because we didn’t have the extra bells and whistles while filming this season. This is just us. We went through this crazy, traumatic year together. Yeah, arguing with each other sometimes. It was a very, very good bonding experience.”
The Real Housewives of New York City is available to stream on Peacock.
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