When Cynthia Bailey Hill first joined The Real Housewives of Atlanta in season 3 of the popular franchise, her co-stars nor the fans were very receptive to the high cheekboned supermodel. Her sweet and southern demeanor and her reluctance to stand in the middle of reality television drama came across to many as her being passive, especially compared to her once-close BFF Nene Leakes. 

But a lot has changed in the 10 years that Bailey has been a peach holder. While she’s arguably the most reserved one of the bunch, and many would say exudes the most class and grace, Bailey is no one’s punching bag and can definitely hold her own.

Viewers watched Bailey in season 9 break free from an unhappy marriage and begin anew at 50-years-old, proudly boasting the moniker 50 Cynt. Her divorce birthed a new Bailey, one that appears to be more fearless and confident in her decisions. And, despite vowing to never marry again, Bailey is now happily married to sportscaster Mike Hill.  Bailey tells Shadow and Act that Hill is everything she could have ever hoped for in a husband.

“I never thought I was going to get married again. I’ve been very public about that,” Bailey said. “I ended up meeting Mike and he changed me. It just went from, ‘I’m not going to get married’ to ‘Why wouldn’t I marry this man?’ He’s everything that I ever wanted. He’s my best friend.”

Bailey was eager to jump into wedding planning with her future husband but due to the coronavirus pandemic, her fairytale wedding seemed unattainable. In the premiere episode of season 13, viewers witness a tense debate between the bride and groom over Bailey’s insistence of having all of the bells and whistles, while Hill is more realistic on how the state of the world may impact their big day. But Bailey refused to settle, and for good reason.

“But I wanted to do a big wedding with all of our loved ones there because I kind of wanted my happily ever after, I wanted to do over from my first wedding. My first wedding was stressful and filled with drama,” Bailey recalled. “So this time around, I just didn’t want like a little small thing in the driveway. I was like, ‘I deserve this,’ and let’s try. And if I can’t have it – if everything we put in place is not enough, then we’ll talk about it then. But can we just try? I know I got a lot of pushback and I expect to get even more pushback as the season plays on because I stand pretty strong on the fact that I want to try to do this wedding and do it safely and responsibly. There were also other factors, including health issues with both Mike and I’s mothers, so who knew if they’d even be alive to attend the wedding if we pushed it back to be honest.”

And she did just that. Bailey and Hill’s wedding is now the blueprint for how to successfully pull off a wedding amid a pandemic. There were hand sanitation stations at every checkpoint, every guest was required to test and wear masks. None of the 250 guests who attended tested positive post-Bailey and Hill’s wedding.

While Bailey is basking in marital bliss, the same cannot be said for her BFF and co-star, Kenya Moore. This season, Moore is an emotional wreck over her marriage being in limbo. Luckily, Moore has Bailey to lean on, and she knows first hand what it’s like to be in an unhappy marriage, which is why she’s so vocal to Moore that it’s time for Moore to make a decision…preferably to move on and start over.

“As far as Kenya and Mark, I’m like, if he ain’t making it better, please don’t let him make it worse. He just needs to be out the picture as far as a romantic relationship because this is crazy,” Bailey said of Moore’s marital strife. “The saying ‘you can do bad all by yourself’ is true. It’s just extra stress for no reason. And this is blocking you from being able to move on into a lighter space in your life. I like Mark and I like Kenya but at this point, I don’t know if I like them together.”

Bailey is happy with Hill, though issues from her past relationship recently made headlines. Reports surfaced that Bailey is suing her ex-husband Peter Thomas over a $170,000 business loan. Thomas has spoken out about the lawsuit, expressing his disappointment, but Bailey is taking the high road. Thomas is currently grieving the recent and unexpected death of his father, which is why Bailey is opting to not speak publicly on the private matter. She does however stand by her decision to take him to court.

“I really don’t even want to talk about it at this point because of Peter dealing with the death of his father, but I’ll just say that we had an agreement and the agreement was supposed to be that we were to wrap everything up by the end of the year and it was not wrapped up,” Bailey explained. “I still want to close it with intentions that we had to close it with, but if it doesn’t and we have to figure out what looks like legally. Regardless of the fact that we’re not together anymore, I’ve never been interested in talking about my financials with my ex publicly. But since he put it out there, of course, I’ve had to address it.”

Despite the lawsuit, Bailey isn’t letting it get her down. She has her new husband to focus on and her ever-expanding business profile. Bailey owns several businesses, including a modeling agency, an accessories line and a wine cellar. 

“Bravo has been very good to me and one of the things they have that made sure they did that is they’ve always promoted my businesses,” Bailey said. “Right now, I just want to sustain the businesses that I have going on. Any of my future businesses, I actually want to do some, projects with my husband.”

Outside of the show and her entrepreneurial efforts, Bailey continues to focus on her most beloved role: a mother to her 21-year-old daughter Noelle. Fans of the show remember Bailey’s unwavering support of Noelle after she came out as sexually fluid. Out of all of her time spent on the show, Bailey says Noelle’s coming out moment was her proudest. Overall, she is in awe of the woman Noelle is growing into and believes her and Noelle’s story serves as a teachable moment to others.

“It was the best thing for her to do it on television,” Bailey says of Noelle’s coming out moment. “She could have been on campus, walking across the campus on a girl’s hand and someone snaps a picture and send it to a blog and that’s how the world finds out. It almost looks like we’re hiding it. I’m proud of her for doing what she did and she’s flourished since.” She’s just a good kid and I’m excited for what’s to come for Noelle.

RHOA airs every Sunday on Bravo at 8 pm EST.