According to People, Bethenny Frankel recommended that McSweeney join the show after meeting her through mutual friends. The magazine cited a “cast source” who said McSweeney was “by no means a ‘replacement’ for Bethenny like everyone is saying she is because she was never meant to be on the show without Bethenny.” McSweeney was in talks to join the series before Frankel announced she was quitting.
With Frankel gone, producers arranged for McSweeney to be introduced into the group by Tinsley Mortimer, according to her bio on Bravo. The network teased that McSweeney could end up being a feisty character on the show, writing on the bio that “Leah has found a new group of friends, but her outspoken nature proves to be too much for the ladies to handle at times.”
Here’s what you need to know about Leah McSweeney.
1. Leah McSweeney Launched Her Clothing Line Called Married to the Mob in 2004
Leah McSweeney is the newest housewife with a successful business. She launched her clothing line, Married to the Mob, in 2004. She registered Married to the Mob Inc. with the state in 2005, according to public records.
The Housewives are often seen in designer outfits and expensive dresses, but McSweeney’s clothing line is far more casual. It’s a streetwear brand, selling T-shirts, sweatpants, and hats for women. McSweeney said she was inspired to create Married to be Mob after she saw male friends launch their own clothing brands.
McSweeney wrote on her company’s website that she aimed to “provide a voice and edginess to women who could hold their own (in the likes of a man,) but had the finesse and appeal of a lady… Powerful and purposeful, Married to the Mob is the embodiment of the intersection of feminine and feminist.”
In 2019, McSweeney collaborated with Reebok to design a sneaker. The running shoe was given the name 3:AM, inspired by the unpredictable hours McSweeney keeps as a business owner and single mom.
2. McSweeney Was Arrested In 2002, Accused the NYPD of Brutality & Received a $75,000 Settlement
Leah McSweeney, like her RHONY castmate Luann de Lesseps, has a mugshot. McSweeney was arrested in 2002 after she and her friend got into an altercation with NYPD officers outside the Hammerstein Ballroom in midtown Manhattan. She told the New York Post that the “cops were beating up a friend” of hers, and she tried to intervene.
McSweeney said she had an empty water bottle in her hand and threw it. She told Fox Business that the bottle ended up hitting the officer in the head, though she claimed that had not been her intention. The officer punched her in the face and slammed her face into the subway grate. McSweeney explained in the interview that she was left with a bruised and puffy face and lost a couple of teeth.
McSweeney sued the NYPD for brutality. According to Radar Online, she demanded $4 million in damages and claimed she was kept handcuffed to a chair for several hours at Bellevue Hospital.
She ultimately was cleared of any charges and received a $75,000 settlement from the department. McSweeney said she used the money to kickstart her clothing line, Married to the Mob.
3. Leah McSweeney Was Expelled From Her Upper East Side High School For Being a ‘Bad Influence’
Leah McSweeney was born in August 1982 and was raised in New York City. Her family lived in Chelsea in midtown Manhattan, but her parents decided to send her to the Catholic, all-girls Convent of the Sacred Heart school on the Upper East Side. But McSweeney was expelled when she was 14.
The reasoning for why she was expelled may come up at some point during RHONY. But in an interview with the New York Post, McSweeney simply explained, “Honestly it was total bullsh*t. They made me the scapegoat and said I was a bad influence on the class.”
Her family moved to Newtown, Connecticut after that to finish high school. According to the Cinemaholic, McSweeney returned to New York City after high school and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but did not graduate. On her LinkedIn profile, McSweeney lists her education, in all caps, as “SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS AKA LIFE.”
4. McSweeney Was Diagnosed With Bipolar II Disorder On Her 30th Birthday
Leah McSweeney has shown she is unafraid to dive into difficult topics and reveal her vulnerabilities. She co-hosts a podcast called Improper Etiquette alongside radio personality Laura Stylez. According to the show description, the two women discuss “current events, mental health, sex, and relationships, and conduct interviews amongst the strongest female figures in music, fashion and business.”
The topic of mental health is a deeply personal one for McSweeney and she talks about it on the podcast. According to a column McSweeney wrote for the site HybeBae, she was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in August 2012, on her 30th birthday. The National Institutes of Health details the condition as “defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes that are typical of Bipolar I Disorder.”
In the column, McSweeney explained the manic swings she experienced as doctors tried to figure out which medicine would be the most effective. “My doctor kept upping my dosage thinking it would help. At that point I seriously started to feel like I losing my mind. I told my mom I needed to go to Bellevue Hospital, but instead she had me throw out the bottle of medication. She watched me fall apart and literally lose my life over seven months on it.”
McSweeney said that her life stabilized in 2014 after she was placed on “the right medication cocktail” and she went into “remission.” McSweeney explained she came to accept the disorder but also wonders whether she would be the same person without it. She wrote, “Sometimes I wonder, who would I be without this chemical imbalance? Maybe this intensity my brain, body and being feels is what makes me who I am… For whatever reason — maybe all the drugs I did as a teenager — this is the way my brain functions. Or maybe my brain was always like this and I was using the drugs at a young age to medicate.”
5. Leah McSweeney Admitted There Was Some ‘Hazing’ When She First Joined the Cast & Hinted at Conflict With Sonja Morgan
Luann de Lesseps praised Leah McSweeney repeatedly in interviews leading up to the premiere of season 12. She told People TV that she got along with McSweeney immediately and that she “really stepped up to the plate.” De Lesseps also said on SiriusXM in January 2020 that she thought viewers would fall in love with Sweeney because she is willing to open up. “She’s gorgeous, she’s really beautiful,” de Lesseps said of McSweeney. “And what I like about her is she is somebody who is self-made and vulnerable at the same time. So I think people can relate to her.”
Ramona Singer described McSweeney as having a “rollercoaster of a personality.” She told Entertainment Tonight that because of their age difference, they developed more of a mother-daughter relationship. Singer admitted she was “tough” on McSweeney because she expected “better from” her.
McSweeney told E! News that she felt like there was a bit of “hazing” as the new girl. “I think some of them didn’t want to like me, even though they ended up liking me, but at first, you know, they’re all like, ‘Who is this chick?'”
She told US Weekly that Sonja Morgan and Dorinda Medley were the toughest to get to know. McSweeney described Medley as having acted “cold” toward her at first “but once you get past that she’s actually the warmest of everybody.”
McSweeney said she was taken aback that she and Morgan weren’t immediate friends, and hinted at the conflict between the two of them. Medley matched this tone with a less-than-flattering description of McSweeney in an interview with the Daily Mail. “I always say Ramona’s an itch I can’t scratch. This girl’s like a rash… the new girl.”