Metro Atlanta native Kelly Beaty set the Twit- and blogosphere on fire a couple of weeks ago with her archly worded essay skewering locally based reality shows for their portrayal of black Atlantans.
Her piece, “Will the Real Black People of Atlanta Please Stand Up?,” suggested that instead of the drama queens shown scrapping and fussing on shows like “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,” producers might consider personalities such as philanthropist Lovette Russell. “I’ve never met her, but I’d bet she’s brimming with reality-worthy one-liners and sound bites,” Beaty wrote.
On Thursday, she and Russell met for the first time. As you might imagine, they hit it off immediately.
“I can tell we are both strong, confident women,” Russell said. “We think along the same lines.”
Beaty, a past contestant on “The Apprentice” who now lives in New York, was home for the Independence Day holiday. She and her new mentor are both Spelman College graduates, and their alma mater helped get them together. Just hours after meeting, Beaty and Russell were finishing each other’s sentences.
“I feel honored that she took the time,” Russell said.
“No, I’m honored,” Beaty said. She first eyed Russell years ago at a YWCA of Greater Atlanta event.
“I was watching her work the room,” Beaty recalled. “I thought, she’s a confident, powerful woman. When I was writing (the essay) I saw her in my mind.”
Both women reject the image of Atlanta suggested by outrageous reality show plot lines.
“The average viewer would think what you see is what happens,” Russell said. “I didn’t think about it until I started to travel. People used to ask you about Andy Young, Dr. King, Morehouse. Now they say, ‘Do you know any of the Real Housewives?’ Really? That’s what you want to talk about?”
Russell, the mother of a rising University of Virginia freshman and a rising senior at Woodward Academy who has been married for 20 years to H.J. Russell & Company CEO Michael Russell, has the social standing most reality stars could only hope to achieve. She’s a Spelman trustee who chairs the Hughes Spalding Community Board and sits on the boards of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Zoo Atlanta and Sheltering Arms. She’s co-chaired black-tie charity galas such as the Swan House Ball and Beastly Feast and will will receive the Mary Cann Achievement Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service at the Nov. 10 Night of Hope Gala, benefiting the Georgia chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America.
“Someone asked me if I would do (a reality show),” she said. “I said, ’so they can follow me to board meetings and talking to donors about potential contributions to philanthropic causes?’ That would be very boring. People want to watch a train wreck.”
Still, we wouldn’t be surprised to see these two Atlanta women share some screen time.
“Bravo has not called, but I would welcome that sit-down,” Beaty said.
Added Russell: “This is the start of something special.”