Real Housewives of Atlanta debuts tonight

Bravo diversifies its prime-time lineup and its Real Housewives franchise tonight when it debuts The Real Housewives of Atlanta. The network says its five new stars are “driven and ambitious women [who] prove that they’re not just ‘housewives,’ but entrepreneurs, doting mothers and classy Southern women.” Two of the five are also married to professional athletes, and one used to be.

The stars are DeShawn Snow, who has three boys and is married to Eric Snow, Cleveland Cavaliers captain; Zim Zolciak, who’s a single mother of two children and is recording a country album; Lisa Wu Hartwell, who has three kids, runs her won real estate agency, acts and models, and is married to NFL player Ed Hartwell; NeNe Leakes has two sons and does non-profit work; and Sheree Whitfield, who’s single, has three children and her own clothing line (and is the ex-wife of NFL player Bob Whitfield).

Four of the five women are black, and executive producer Steve Weinstock told critics that producers “went down to Atlanta to look for a diverse cast because we just thought it would be a very — a great extension of the franchise which has been so successful on Bravo. … We sort of felt blessed that we found a combination of both a diverse cast and an interesting place that Bravo hadn’t been to before. Bravo wanted to kind of explore the South in a city like Atlanta, and, you know, we think we’ve got an amazing show.”

They were all close friends before the show except Lisa, who was an acquaintance. All of them also watch the other Real Housewives shows. In July, NeNe told TV critics, “Atlanta is the Black Hollywood. We have CEOs, athletes, executives, and a lot of powerful people there.”

Real Housewives of Atlanta [Bravo]