For the past 14 years, Shereé Whitfield hasn’t “tried to be anyone but Shereé.”
As the first Housewife ever to depart and rejoin a series three times, Whitfield made history this year when she returned to Bravo’s "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" for Season 14, joining Kandi Burruss, Marlo Hampton, Kenya Moore, Sanya Richards-Ross and Drew Sidora.
Whitfield’s return was accompanied by buzz surrounding the launch of her brand, She by Shereé, which has been in the works for over a decade.
With Season 14 coming to a close on Bravo, TODAY caught up with Whitfield to hear all about what’s going on in her world.
Whitfield said she was ‘let down’ when the She by Shereé website crashed
Since the inception of She by Shereé in "RHOA" Season One, many cast members (and fans) have wondered if the brand would ever become a reality.
Fourteen years later, the brand is a reality — but with some bumps along the way, and a timeline that isn’t exactly as viewers may think.
Whitfield told TODAY, “People joke, ‘Oh, it’s taken 14 years.’ It didn’t actually take 14 years. I wasn’t actually for 14 years consistently saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t get this, what am I what am I doing?’ It was me jumping into something that I didn’t know much about.”
During Season 14, Whitfield went all out on She By Shereé, which culminated in a fashion show in Atlanta during the season finale. Immediately after the season finale aired, the line launched for sale online, but the website was overloaded and crashed.
Whitfield told TODAY that she was “so pissed and let down” when the website crashed.
“It didn’t feel good because I knew people were counting on this, waiting on it and rooting for me,” Whitfield explained. She said she’s learning more and more about the fashion business every day.
Whitfield addressed ‘ruthless’ social media stir about She by Shereé
Since the fashion show episode on Sept. 4, social media has been all over the brand’s every move.
After the site relaunched, viewers pointed out that some of the designs are similar to fast fashion brand Shein’s products, and questioned the large price difference between the brands' products.
Whitfield said the similarities come from certain garments being sourced from a private label manufacturer, a decision she says she and her production manager made to “find (products with) different price points for everyone.”
“It’s only a few pieces, yet people are ruthless. For some reason, people hold me to a higher standard. I am not the first to incorporate a few private label pieces, and I will not be the last. So for them to focus on those two pieces, when I took time and my energy and everything to create these things, it’s just disappointing,” Whitfield explained.
Fans have also criticized Whitfield for showcasing products in the fashion show that aren’t yet available to purchase. Whitfield told TODAY, “I am so tired of having to educate the unfashionable people.”
“When you see a runway show, you may see 50, 60, 70, looks, but that doesn’t mean everything is dropping at the same time,” Whitfield explained, and added that more fashions will be coming — in monthly drops of six to eight products at a time.
Whitfield addressed Kandi Burruss’ ‘absolutely unprovoked’ comments about her
During Season Fourteen, Episode Six, Hampton made disparaging comments about Burruss to Whitfield, calling her a “damn h--,’” and adding that Burruss is “for herself.” Whitfield seemingly agreed to Hampton’s comments, as she did not retort in the moment.
Whitfield told TODAY, “I talked to Kandi, and I apologized for agreeing with Marlo.”
“She seemed like she was okay, and then she just kept going, going, going. People would send me, ‘oh, Kandi said this, Kandi said this.’ Doesn’t she have anything to talk about in her own life? Why am I her only topic?” Whitfield continued.
Their feud spilled over into the Season Fourteen reunion, where Whitfield said that Burruss talks about her on her YouTube show “for clickbait,” or to get more engagement with her show.
While speaking to TODAY, Whitfield called Burruss’ attitude toward her “absolutely unprovoked” and “bizarre,” and noted that she still co-signs her statement about clickbait from the reunion.
“She talked about how Shereé is getting money to pay for her house. First of all, I’ve been living in the house for six years, and you’re just now wondering about how I paid for it? ... I’m on the same damn show you’re on. Don’t think that you’re the only one that knows how to save money or how to invest. That’s what it seems to me when she says ‘I don’t know she got the money.’ Honey, I started this platform,” Whitfield continued.
Whitfield clapped back at Kandi Burruss’ comments about her relationship with Martell Holt
Another point of contention between Burruss and Whitfield is Whitfield’s relationship with Martell Holt, star of OWN’s ‘Love and Marriage: Huntsville.’
During a July 29 appearance on Atlanta’s V-103, Burruss spoke of Whitfield and Holt’s relationship, and said “I don’t want her to be in a situation where it feels like she’s being used for publicity,” a topic that also arose on Burruss’ latest ‘WWHL’ appearance.
On the Sept. 18 episode of Bravo’s "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," Cohen asked Burruss “on a scale from 1-10, how worried are you that Shereé’s new boyfriend is using her?” to which Burruss responded, “Well, I feel like they’re on the same page.”
Whitfield told TODAY, “I don’t know who she thinks I am, but honey, I don’t have to make up a man.”
“She’s been used in the past. I cannot take these women. Just because you’ve had a bad past and you’ve been used, and like I said, a sugar mama or whatever, don’t put me in that situation,” Whitfield explained.
As far as her relationship with Holt, Whitfield said she’s “having fun” with the relationship.
“We laugh, we have a good time, and we have a lot of similar interests. Kandi has not been around us, so who cares how Kandi feels, how about that?” Whitfield said.
Whitfield said Drew Sidora was ‘searching for a storyline’ with Season Fourteen rumors
Whitfield’s largest sparring partner this season has been Sidora, mainly over allegations swapped between both of them from an assistant they both worked with…that Sidora’s husband could be secretly gay and that Whitfield didn’t pay the assistant while working for her.
At Part Two of the Season Fourteen reunion, the allegations came to a head, as Sidora played a video recording of the assistant saying that he didn’t say that Pittman was gay.
Whitfield immediately FaceTimed the assistant, who clarified that Whitfield doesn’t owe him money. The assistant also added that he believed that Sidora fed into the rumors for a “storyline” and “to get onto this season.”
Whitfield told TODAY that she “believes Drew was searching for a storyline” by re-bringing up the rumors.
“They cut out so many different times (during the season) when she would bring it up or would want to talk to me and have a conversation with me about what Anthony said. My response to them was, you can’t pick and choose what you want to believe. You only want to believe the things that he said about me, not the things he said about you,” Whitfield added.
After Part Two of the reunion aired, social media speculation erupted over whether Whitfield may have paid the assistant to have her back on the FaceTime call. Whitfield told TODAY, “I don’t have to pay anybody for stories, honey.”
“You cannot pick and choose between Shereé doesn’t pay or Shereé does pay.” Whitfield explained.
Earlier in the season, Whitfield responded via Twitter to TODAY’s interview with Sidora, stating that Sidora should pass her peach to RHOA vet Porsha Williams, suggesting the departure of Sidora to make room for Williams’ return.
Whitfield still stands by that suggestion and explained, “I think it would be nice, or she should give it (her peach) to Ralph (Pittman, her husband).”
Whitfield reflected on her resilience and strength during Season Fourteen
After a season that tested Whitfield’s strength and resilience, Whitfield said her biggest lesson learned is to “continue to dream.”
“Don’t let anybody steal your light. Keep moving. If that is something that you’re happy about, that you’re passionate about, that you really, really want to do, keep doing it because the haters are always gonna hate,” Whitfield explained.
Throughout the tumultuous time building her brand, Whitfield said seeing positive comments and support helped her keep going, as she “wanted to provide something people would be proud of.”
With spring and summer gone and September almost over … what’s next for Whitfield next season? An expansion of She by Shereé, and a fitness subscription from her and her kids!
“When I started She by Shereé, I wanted it to be a lifestyle. It’s home decor, it’s beauty, it’s kids, it’s so much more than we see right now. ... Fitness is another passion of mine. My girls, my son, we all love fitness, so we’re working on putting together a fitness subscription that everyone can enjoy” Whitfield explained.
With Season Fourteen coming to a close, casting rumors about Season Fifteen have begun to swirl, including talk that "RHOA" veterans Porsha Williams and Kim Zolciak-Biermann could return.
Whitfield said that a Williams return would be “nice,” and added that she’d welcome Zolciak-Biermann back into the mix with open arms.
“She’s fearless, she’s funny as s---. She’s not going to take any s---. I think she’s good TV. I would just like to see and hang out with her.”