By Terrance Turner
Sept. 30, 2021
Porsha Williams is leaving “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”.
“After ten life-changing, gratifying, incredible years, it is finally time to begin my next chapter. Next season, I will not be returning to the Real Housewives of Atlanta franchise,” Porsha wrote on Instagram today, Sept. 30. “This was a difficult decision to not only make, but also come to terms with. It’s one I have put a lot of thought into and because of that, I know it’s the right one.”
“I want to thank Bravo, Truly Original, and Andy Cohen for this opportunity, and all the show’s producers, editors, and assistants, for working tirelessly every day to create our show. I have so much love and endless gratitude for my Bravo family and supporters. You’ve made the past decade a truly special one. One where I’ve dealt with unbelievable highs and unbelievable lows, and I can honestly say I would not have made it through some of them without the unconditional love and support I have gotten from all of you,” she wrote.
“Don’t worry though, I’ll be back on your TV very soon,” Williams teased. That sentiment was echoed by RHOA executive producer Andy Cohen, who commented: “As we discussed, I’m gonna go ahead and consider this more of a PAUSE than a goodbye.” But Cohen also acknowledged the growth that Williams displayed over her years on the show, writing: “What a run. What an evolution.”
Indeed. Since her debut on the show in season five, Williams has evolved from submissive stay-at-home wife to heartbroken divorcee to raunchy, exuberant good-time girl. In later seasons, Williams got engaged (to former fiance Dennis McKinley) and became a mother to their two-year-old daughter Pilar. (Some time after the breakup with McKinley, Williams turned heads by announcing her engagement to Simon Guobadia — the estranged husband of her “RHOA” castmate Falynn Guobadia.) But Williams also became an activist, following in her family’s footsteps by raising her voice for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Williams’ grandfather was the late Rev. Hosea Williams, a civil rights leader. In 1965, Rev. Williams joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a historic march to Selma, Alabama. King, Williams, and hundreds of other protesters marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to ensure that Black Americans had the right to vote. (That march erupted into mayhem when police attacked the protesters; John Lewis, who was also present, had his skull fractured after a beating by a police officer.)
Decades later, 5-year-old Porsha joined her grandfather in a march against segregation in Cummings, Georgia. “I’m singing ‘We Shall Overcome,’ and I’m seeing my grandfather be the leader of this march, this protest,” Ms. Williams recalled to The New York Times. The Ku Klux Klan met the demonstrators.
“And the K.K.K. started to throw rocks at us. They called us the N-word over and over.” In her memory, the peaceful scene became “chaotic,” as marchers rushed back to the buses that had transported them from Atlanta. The New York Times reported in a front-page article that Sunday that counterprotesters were arrested on charges of possession of weapons including “bows and arrows.”
After the murder of George Floyd last year, Williams was galvanized to action. “When I saw that video of George Floyd being murdered, I knew that I had to change the way I was moving,” she said. “That meant now I have to sacrifice myself, my finance, my brand, my everything, and put it all on the line for change.”
On July 13, 2020 — the five-year anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death — Williams traveled to Kentucky for Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman shot and killed in her home in March after police broke into her apartment. The goal: encourage Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to finally charge the officers involved with her death. (The officers were never directly charged in Taylor’s death.) The Times reports that Williams was among 87 protesters arrested outside the home of Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, while calling on him to file criminal charges against those officers. She was charged with criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct and intimidating a participant in a legal process (a felony, later dropped).
Then on August 25, she was arrested again in Louisville, alongside Love and Hip-Hop‘s Yandy Smith, rapper Mysonne Linen, and Until Freedom co-founder Linda Sarsour, as they again protested for justice for Breonna. They faced misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway. She opened up about the arrest — and her activism — on the premiere of the last season of “RHOA”.
“There are spiderwebs, dirt everywhere. Nothing is sanitized,” she said on the show. “You’re inside of a jail, and it was probably myself and maybe, like, 30 women.” (Smith told Page Six that the toilets inside the prison were unclean and that what at first looked like a puddle of water on the floor was in fact not.)
“As disgusting as that place was, being inside that cage with them actually changed my life,” she said. “I’ve never shared my soul with people that I just met, and we were sharing it because a soul had been lost, which is so ironic about the whole thing.”
Williams added on “Watch What Happens Live” that she felt “emotional” watching the premiere episode back.
“[The protest] changed me because I didn’t know what I had in me,” she said. “I always knew that my grandfather, who was a civil rights leader … I knew that I had a lot of him in me, a lot of his drive, a lot of his outspokenness, his encouragement to other people and to fight … but I didn’t know that it would activate the way it did.”