Kenya Moore is getting emotional thinking about her past. During a recent interview with ET’s Brice Sander, the Real Housewives of Atlanta star reacted to her first interview with ET, which came after she was crowned Miss USA in 1993.
“This is so wild. Oh my God, she was perfect,” Kenya said after reviewing the throwback footage. “… That’s such a great time, being Miss USA… being the second [Black] woman to be crowned Miss USA. I’m a part of American history.”
“I just think you can’t take that away,” she added. “During a time where Black women weren’t necessarily recognized for their beauty, so I like to think that I helped to change that perception of beauty for Black women.”
Kenya additional noted, “A little young Black girl from Detroit, having come from really nothing to being a celebrity overnight and touching people and having people be excited to see you in person and crying over you, that was a lot. It was a lot to deal with, but I just remember it was the best time of my life.”
Kenya also believes that her family, her grandmother specifically, “would be really proud” of the success she’s experienced since that moment.
“I just remember my grandmother being so proud,” the reality star said, before adding of her latest venture, starring in Lifetime’s Abducted Off the Street: The Carlesha Gaither Story, “Hopefully seeing a project like this and seeing how far I’ve come, she would be proud of me now.”
In the film that she referenced, Kenya stars as a mother who stops at nothing to find her missing daughter.
“I wanted people to see me as Keisha, who was Carlesha Gaither’s mother,” Kenya said, before explaining why signing on to the project was a “really difficult” decision.
“At first I was like, ‘I want something gritty. I want something that challenges me, that makes me step out of my comfort zone.’ I read the script and I was like, ‘Oh my God I, can’t do this.’ It just struck this cord in me of fear. I was like, ‘I have a child that is a girl,'” she said of her 5-year-old daughter, Brooklyn. “As a mom, your biggest fear is something happening to that child.”
“I said, ‘Let me look at the script again.’ When I read it for the second time, I said, ‘I can do it, because… I could save a life, I can possibly prevent someone for from being abducted and get another girl home,'” she recalled. “I said, ‘That’s the reason why I needed to do it.'”
After viewers watch the film, Kenya hopes that people realize “that a Black girl was found, that a missing woman was found.”
“I think that this story really shows that, if your family cares, if they are focused, if they remain calm, if they get everyone, that they possibly can… rally behind them to bring our girls,” she added.
As for acting in general, Kenya noted that “it felt so good to be back to my roots” with the project.
“I started off as an actress. I became known in this world after Miss USA as an actress. I’ve studied. I’m not someone who thinks that something should be handed to me. I’m willing to do the work,” she said. “I love the fact that Keisha, Carlesha’s mom, is this focus driven mother who stops at nothing to bring her daughter back. I would like to think that we would react in the same way under crisis.”
As she looks ahead to the future, Kenya — who finalized her divorce from Marc Daly in 2023, three years after she filed for divorce from her husband of four years — said that she feels “liberated.”
“I finally have been granted a divorce, I finally got the most beautiful child I ever wanted, everything that’s on my vision board comes true for the most part,” she said, before adding of the Bravo series, “I feel like when it’s time for me to move on, it’ll be a happy moment. It won’t be sad. It will mean that I am taking a step in a different direction and I would hope that everyone would support me in that.”
“I look back and I see that I was a former Miss USA. I was a Housewife… I think the next chapter will be as equally as important,” Kenya added. “… I feel like a liberated women…I’m excited, actually, because I just think that [divorce] was holding me back, and, now that it’s not there, I can really lean into this next chapter.”