Lisa Wu Hartwell on Foreclosure Rumors, Family Life and Drama With Kim Zolciak

We've come to love and know Lisa Wu Hartwell as the petite powerhouse of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" crew that is as tough as she is gentle. Despite the show's upheaval with weekly catfights, The Wu appears to have dodged the hailstorm of drama so far. Recently, there have been some whisperings about her and her family's financial status and rumored homelessness, certain goings on with her and her kids, and claims that her nemesis Kim really tried to steal her husband. caught up with the savvy hustler to hear her side of these rumors firsthand.

ESSENCE.COM: Have folks treated you and your family any differently since reports surfaced that you all were homeless and broke?

LISA WU HARTWELL: We have not been treated any differently. In fact, people close to us were actually laughing, knowing that the story was in accurate and that there was more to it than what was reported and sensationalized. Our close friends knew that we had moved several months ago and were not evicted. Even fans were very supportive, and I appreciate that and the well wishes.

ESSENCE.COM: Have you had success in selling the house?

HARTWELL: The bank that held the mortgage chose not to allow us to sell and they chose to handle it in hopes that they would recoup the original value of our home by coming after us for the difference. We paid millions in taxes every year and chose to downgrade by moving to another one of our properties. Ed and I even wanted to rent our former home after the bank said they would restructure the loan to make it affordable, but ultimately they chose another route. We've lost more than $600,000 in that home. How is it that the bank wants to be made whole when they've already been bailed out by the government with our tax money?

ESSENCE.COM: What we love most about you is your hustler's spiritjuggling so many hats in your career. Are you ever afraid that the perception is that you aren't focused?

HARTWELL: People that can only do one thing should to stick to doing one thing. I actually enjoy doing everything I do. I didn't wake up one morning and say, "I want to do this and this and this." I've been grinding for years and now I am finally able to sit back and reap some of the benefits. I have a lot of energy. I've got to expend it (laughs).

ESSENCE.COM: This season there have been more catfights than ever. Do you come to blows with anyone?

HARTWELL: I don't come to blows with anyone. I have this ongoing thing with Kim. I hate the perception that we all attack her. I would never participate in such behavior nor is it part of my character. Kim always does and says things about me off-camera. So it appears that my beef with her is not legitimate. She is not worth my time to simply sit around and talk about her. Who is she anyway? What does she do for a living (laughs)? One minute we call a truce and the next she's doing something off-camera again to jeopardize it. I don't know if that's by design or what (laughs).

ESSENCE.COM: There was a rumor in the blogosphere that NeNe noted in her book that Kim tried to go after your husband. Is that true?

HARTWELL: That was my first time hearing it. I actually laughed when I read it. She could never steal my husband, nor would he want her.

ESSENCE.COM: Folks are still curious about your personal life and why you don't have custody of your kids. In the past you mentioned that was something you were working on. How's it going?

HARTWELL: It is a very private issue. My husband, myself and [ex-husband] Keith Sweat are trying to work things out. Our children are doing fine and I see them every other day and sometimes every day.

ESSENCE.COM: How do you feel about your critics saying that you only want your sons to exploit them on the show in order to make you appear like the perfect mom?

HARTWELL: I would never exploit my children nor do I feel the need to impress anyone. Everyone has a different parenting style. I am a very hands-on mom that gets dirty with my kids (laughs). We paint ball together, we play kickball and everything else. Every mother should want more time with their children and I'm no different. It's sad that people pass judgment on things they know nothing about. At the end of the day I can't worry about everyone else, I have to stay focused on what's important and that's me and my family.


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