When part of your job description entails mercilessly mocking a certain Atlanta-set reality show, it’s always awkward when you actually run into one of the cast members face to face. For example, when we spotted Atlanta attorney Phaedra C. Parks this week at the soiree for Georgia’s 2012 Grammy nominees at the downtown W, we braced for a) a beating with a metal folding chair or b) a hug.
Blessedly, when Parks saw us, chose the latter. First up, we asked Parks (who served as one of the co-chairs of last month’s Captain Planet Foundation gala auction) if she was as surprised as the rest of us to learn the gala’s headliner bluegrass Grammy winner Alison Krauss was a huge “Real Housewives of Atlanta” fan. “I love her!” Parks confided to us. “I actually went back [stage] and talked to her for a long time and we exchanged numbers. Maybe next year, I’ll get her on the show!”
Parks also gave us a sneak preview of what’s coming up on the very special three episode fourth season finale of “RHOA” as the ladies travel to Africa. Part one airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on Bravo. “The Africa episodes are going to be absolutely wonderful,” she hinted. “It’s beautiful. It’s going to be three episodes but we were there for ten days. We did everything. We had a great fight. You will see that this Sunday. It’s just unbelievable. But there were also a lot of great moments. A lot of tear jerking moments. It’s going to be something to see. We did a safari and a lot of cultural things. I’m very proud because I organized the trip. It was my baby and I’m really excited about it.”
Over the years, long before she ever became daily fodder for the blogosphere, we interacted with Parks routinely in her capacity as one of the city’s entertainment attorneys. Back in the day, we filed countless dispatches on her famous clients, including former Atlantan R&B singer Bobby Brown during his often tumultuous marriage Whitney Houston. Brown, you see, had this habit of forgetting to pay child support from a previous relationship until he given a gentle reminder from Boston law enforcement officials. This gentle reminder often came in the form of an orange jumpsuit.
So why would a lawyer as smart as Parks sign up for a ridiculous reality show after it had already made our city a national punchline? “The show came at a good time,” she explained. “I was pregnant and I was on bed rest. It was a great opportunity. But on the flip side, I wanted to showcase what I felt Atlanta was really about. That is, educated women, professional women and entrepreneurship. I like to think I embody all those things.”
But Parks does concede that what viewers see on “RHOA” is a, well, heightened TV version of herself. “Yeah,” she said laughing. “Well, you’ve known me forever! Here’s the thing. It is TV and it is for entertainment. People need to realize that. What people have to know is that you’re peeking into moments that should be shared amongst friends. It’s a wonderful medium. But no one is one dimensional. Everyone has different dimensions to themselves. When you’re being taped for television, it’s very different from how you might act otherwise.”