As a new cast member of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Phaedra Parks is clearly a different breed from the originals. She is actually married and just had a baby. She has a full-time career as an entertainment attorney. She can be brash and bold and back up her words with action.
That’s all good but you can imagine immediately she will create a bit of competition for NeNe Leakes, Queen Bee of the show.
Her biggest controversy point is who she married:
Apollo Nida was convicted for racketeering in 2004. He served five years in prison and was paroled last year. The other housewives jabber about this factoid behind her back.
But she isn’t ashamed. She feels he served his time for his crime and life should move on.
“I’m from a very religious family that’s very conservative and a very political family that’s well known,” Phaedra said during a conference call earlier this week to promote the show. “I wanted people to judge my husband for his character and not his past because he’s a great person and your past doesn’t dictate your future.”
She was pregnant during the filming of the show earlier this year and is now on maternity leave to raise her two-month son. She said her husband was okay with her doing the TV show as well, despite the scrutiny it inevitably creates.
“He’s my man and I love him so I’ll stand by him no matter what.”
In a separate interview after the phone conference, Parks fleshed out her background a bit.
“I chose law because I really have always been a fighter,” she said. “I’ve always subscribed to the theory of helping people and trying to enrich people.”
The Athens native and University of Georgia graduate at first wanted to go into politics but didn’t like the compromises and needs to clip her tongue to accommodate constituents. She prefers being able to speak her mind.
Out of UGA law school, she did insurance defense and even pondered becoming insurance commissioner.”I was excited about insurance,” she said.
But she knew a lot of athletes at UGA who became professionals. They’d ask for her advice. She is also friends with a rapper Too Short. He and V-103’s Ryan Cameron encouraged her to go into entertainment law.
She did have reservations. “I didn’t get into law to babysit and be around a bunch of crazy people doing crazy things,” she said.
Then again, one of her first clients was Bobby Brown. “Whitney Houston called me on a Sunday. She had heard I would be the best attorney for her husband.” Bobby’s been in trouble with the law over the years. “I was so honored she called me,” Phaedra said. “I met them at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead and the rest is history. She was so passionate for her husband… It was sad to me when they decided to divorce.”
She has a solid career and a husband she loves, plus a new baby. Why would she want to do “Real Housewives of Atlanta”?
“Life is full of different roads and journeys,” she said. “Not every road is smooth. In order for you to grow, you need to experience different things. This is just another experience. I just hope I can do our city proud and do the legal profession proud.”
She entered the show without knowing the other women well but came in with an open mind as best as she could. “It’s going to be a different show,” she said, “but just as excellent as past years.”
This doesn’t mean there won’t be disputes. (The preview trailer shows her flapping her mouth at another housewife.) “At the end of the day, we respect each other,” she said. “There will be explosive drama but also great heart-touching moments.”
My time with Phaedra was up. We’ll see how well she fits into the cast. Based on the first episode, she certainly gives us a more colorful personality than either DeShawn Snow or Lisa Wu Hartwell.
“Real Housewives of Atlanta,” 9 p.m. on Mondays on Bravo