Marlo Hampton isn't exactly waiting around for a peach.
"I don’t go to sleep every night like, 'Lord, please give me a peach,'" the Real Housewives of Atlanta "friend of" tells ET via video chat. "Bravo pays me well. I travel good. I eat good. I got good benefits. So, Bravo is my family."
Marlo has had a presence on RHOA for nearly a decade, appearing regularly on the show since season 4. She became an official cast member in season 10, outlasting a number of women who have held full-time slots on the show. In an interview with fellow RHOA star Kandi Burruss, Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen admitted that "we don’t have a consensus among the group" of decision makers who ultimately choose who's a Housewife and who's a supporting player, and that's why Marlo doesn't have a peach... yet.
"Somebody at that table don’t like me, but guess what? It's on God’s timing, not mine or theirs," Marlo says. "And hopefully … they’ll come around and say, ‘You know what? Let’s give Marlo a try.’ Because a lot of girls have been given tries and they’re gone."
"Honestly, titles are important to a lot of people," she adds. "With me, coming from humble beginnings, I’m glad to say I can eat, I can shop, I can not work and support my two nephews with no help. I’m living in a home that’s paid for, thank God. I want [the peach] for my fans."
Marlo has delivered some iconic moments in her time on the show, from her NSFW reading of Kim Zolciak at the season 4 reunion, to walking miles in the dark to escape camping, instigating the "Who said that?!" back-and-forth after asking Kandi if she’s a lesbian in front of the group and, of course, her sprinter bus showdown with Eva Marcille. That came after Marlo told the group that Eva was experiencing financial troubles, a big point of discussion in season 11.
"What I will say is, I’m not good at delivering the message," Marlo admits of her so-called messy behavior. "I need to learn a different way to deliver it. Maybe I’ll be like, 'Eva, are you OK, love? I heard you’re having some financial hardships.' Like, I just come with what people are saying."
"I just need to work on the delivery of my tea," she reiterates. "Because everything comes to my DM, people text you. If Eva, Cynthia [Bailey] or Kenya [Moore] are somewhere and they’re mean, people will send us things! They will send us pictures! It’s like a world of receipts. Have receipts, please! And then what’s important on this show, own your truth. These girls don’t own it. I’m gonna own where I came from, I’m gonna own my past. I’m gonna own, I’m not filthy rich. I’m not saying I’m rich, or I’m not the most educated or I’m not this. I’m Marlo."
For as long as Marlo's been on the show, so-called stories about her past have popped up; a rap sheet, rumors of being Ted Turner's mistress and working as a high-end escort, among other things, have followed her around like a shadow.
"They talked about me for eight years, all the awful things they said … where are your receipts?" Marlo asks. "Like, please, bring me the man I’m dating, please bring him."
Marlo says all the women know the truth of her life, so if they wanted to "expose" something, they could. But, according to Marlo, there's simply nothing to expose.
"At some point, with this platform, someone would have come forward, right? A wife, a girlfriend, someone who knows I escorted? It's like, come with something else," Marlo says. "Nothing's a secret when you’re on a television show.”
"It just looks good," she suspects. "It's like, hey, we’re not gonna give her that she loves fashion, she’s extra, she came from foster care, these are things that make her feel good ... Don't be mad because I’m extra -- it’s not even extra. It’s just Marlo."
Marlo says any time she brings something to the table on the show, she makes sure she has the receipts. That includes the allegations she made about Eva's life.
"No lie, I had so much more information," she shares. "I literally had bills, receipts. Like, I’m like, girl, you know I’m telling you! Like, Eva calm down before I show these bills and these text messages, OK? And I didn’t do that because I feel that’s when, you know, don’t go that low."
"I thought we were cool, we had gotten over all of the drama, she got on Wendy Wiliams and threw shade,” Marlo adds. “But I’m like, 'Eva, we’re supposed to be over that. Anything that Atlanta is seeing, or that you’re doing, they're gonna talk about it.' I came back and told NeNe, her ‘big sis,’ and Tanya [Sam] -- who is very mature, and both of them are real connected with money and maybe they could have helped her out! I wasn’t trying to be shady but I was telling the truth what the streets were saying."
Some viewers -- and even RHOA star NeNe Leakes in an ET interview -- are campaigning for Eva to exit the show and hand over her peach to Marlo; but Marlo says she has mixed feelings about that prospect.
"Listen, I don’t like for anyone not to have a job but, I’m not gonna lie, I would love to take her position," she admits. "I would definitely -- my fans would be so excited, they would love it. But I don't want Eva to lose her job. I don't want her to have financial hardships again, and I’m glad that she has her position."
"But, yeah, NeNe definitely feels that way," she goes on to say. "She just feels that she doesn’t bring it like the rest of us bring it. Eva is more of a diva with the producers. As in, 'I’m doing this...' or 'I’m not doing that…' or, ‘No.’ She’s just… it’s like, girl, this isn’t L.A. this is ATL, you know? We got a little hood in us, a little bit. We bring it."
After NeNe’s comments made the rounds, Eva clapped back on The Rickey Smiley Morning Show, saying she does bring it to the show, just in a different way from her co-stars.
"I’m a 35-year-old woman with my family and beautiful husband," Eva said. "As far as my relevance on the show, I choose not to… every single day be ratchet, there is already enough ratchet, i.e. her, on the show. Why do you need two? I do me, and represent the other part of Black women that are smart … well-spoken. That’s who I represent. So, if I’m that boring, you spent time in your interview talking about me because your storyline is the fact that you have no storyline."
"People relate more with things that are relatable," Marlo tells ET. "Like before, you know, it was all my fashion, me being me. It’s like, you know what, Marlo? Put your guards down, these people do not hurt you. Let them know you cry like everyone else, you have issues like everyone else."
Marlo has shared more about her life in season 12 than ever before, partially because her life changed a lot in the time between filming seasons 11 and 12. She was granted temporary custody of her two nephews -- Michael, 12, and William, 11 -- and officially became "Munty Marlo," a name she coined to combine "mom" and "aunty." Friday marks the trio’s one-year anniversary of living together as a family.
"I learned that I’m not as hard and tough as I appear, that I need the love and affection," Marlo reflects, thinking about the last year. "William is the one that’s super-duper affectionate. So, he's like, 'Auntie, give me a hug! Give me a kiss!' Even when I yell at him and I’m mad at him, he’ll come kiss and hug you. And I just have realized that boys really need love, as well."
Along with showing more of her personal life this season, Marlo also integrated more with the women of the cast, spending more one-on-one time with them outside of group events.
"I didn’t just stick with NeNe," she notes. "NeNe, I love to death. That’s my big sis. She’s had my back forever. But it felt good, really, to get one-on-one time with Kandi. It was disappointing when Cynthia thought I was the snake in ‘snake-gate,’ ‘cause I’m like, really, Cynthia? How could you even dare think -- all these years -- how am I gonna be a snake-gate?"
"I’m not gonna record you, you’re not the guy I’m dating," Marlo adds. "I’m not that into what you got going on, sweetheart."
"Snake-gate" was sprung from NeNe claiming to have “recordings” of Cynthia bashing her to someone they both know. NeNe wouldn’t divulge the so-called snake’s identity, so the group started investigating and narrowed the suspects down to two: Marlo or Yovanna Momplaisir. Marlo says the snake is 100 percent Yovanna.
On top of snake-gate, Marlo found herself going toes with Kenya. Near the top of the season, Kenya crashed Marlo's HER Hair Collection launch event with a drumline to promote her own hair care products. Marlo says she can’t wait to confront Kenya about that moment whenever the cast is able to shoot their season 12 reunion. The taping was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We were having a good time, it was like a sisterhood," Marlo recalls. "I was launching my wig line that I paid a lot of money and invested into this venue and just pulling it together, and for you to just come in there and just bring such a dark cloud? I just feel like, how can you do that? That’s just awful."
Kenya, herself, admitted to ET she may have crossed the line with the drumline; she says she got caught up in making good TV.
"I feel she did come back to make a point and it’s, like, 'I don’t care who I’m going to hurt, I wanna secure my job,'" Marlo surmises. "But still, that was so awful. God, don’t go… just have -- it’s not the beginning of the show! You remember those times when I would go below the belt? But I feel we’ve grown … To me, she went back to, like, the beginning of the seasons. Like, girl, I understand you haven’t had an acting gig in forever. But come on! Right now is not the time for you to come here acting and trying to get attention."
Kenya has delivered her fair share of must-see moments this season, and Marlo promises there's at least one more to come: yet another blowup with NeNe.
"Have your popcorn ready and your wine ready, have a shot ready and some tequila maybe," she proclaims. "It’s something… I don’t know. What’s crazy -- I’m going to be honest with you -- NeNe was team Kenya, not team her but wanted to make up with her at my wig line [event]."
"You didn’t see this, but NeNe was being friendly to her," she continues. "NeNe was really trying to talk to her and be her friend, she just would not accept it. I guess she was like, ‘I’m back and I’m just coming with all my guns out. I’m bringing the smoke.’ So, she just wanted to bring the smoke."
NeNe told ET she believes that Kenya is good for the show, and Marlo agrees, but she says she’s not sure that Kenya thinks the same of them.
"She doesn’t have that same respect for NeNe or myself," she says. "Is Kenya good for the show? Absolutely. Does Kenya go too far? Absolutely. She just needs somebody in corporate to sit and talk to her and say … how to balance it, because then it’ll end up how it was a couple episodes when she just, she provokes people. She's provoked people several times. And it’s not -- don’t do that. People have too much real stuff going on in their lives for you to be evil like that."
Marlo says she’s taking this time in the world, when everyone is basically locked indoors due to the pandemic, to focus on the positive.
"You can read about my non-profit, Glam It Up! It's for young girls who are in foster care, 'cause I grew up in foster care … so that’s, like, my baby and I’m going crazy because the girls have prom coming up but we’re not gonna have prom!" she shares. "So, I think I’m gonna have to Zoom with them or do something … virtual prom, maybe we’ll do that! Just dress up, have mocktails, yeah!"
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays on Bravo.