"RHOA" star Phaedra Parks poses for the latest issue of ROLLING OUT where she recounts her road to success and the obstacles she's had to endure. Also, find out more about her commitment to helping parent young Black males inside...
Whether you're a fan of "RHOA" or not, it's hard to dislike Phaedra Parks. With several successful businesses in Atlanta (including a legal practice and a funeral home), and a role on one of TV's hottest reality shows, she's a woman with a plan and a vision for the legacy she wants to leave behind. And the road hasn't been easy....
In addition to watching her become a single mother right before our eyes (her husband Apollo Nida was incarcerated for fraud), we also saw her handle Miss USA Kenya Moore with style and grace. And that couldn't have be easy.
Now....she's talking to ROLLING OUT about going forward with her legacy, which includes writing a book about raising Black boys and "speaking life" to people going through struggles. Prepare to be inspired....
Do you think your old-school mindset came from the way you were raised?
Growing up in Athens, [Georgia], coming from a political family, a family of preachers, we were the quintessential old school, middle class black family. Both of my parents are pastors and educators. I went to the school that my parents taught in, so people expected more of me.
So, you grew up in a lot of structure. Being in the entertainment world as an attorney and as a reality star can be a very demanding and even chaotic. How do you make those two things fit?
I never had any intentions on being an entertainment attorney. I think this was truly my calling. My main goal was always to help someone, and I’ve always been very connected with Black men. When you look at the structure of the entertainment world and its leadership, there are not a lot of people that look like us. When I first got into the industry, that’s what resonated with most of my clients. They were the people that no one wanted. People didn’t understand them. They had issues that the majority of attorneys did not want to deal with. So, I found out what my niche was: helping people who most thought could not be rehabilitated. And I really made it my duty to show that just because someone has an issue doesn’t mean that they can’t be successful.
You’re on a show where you can get pulled into situations and it’s not always about “speaking life.” How do you deal with that?
I’m on a show where they speak death all the time. But the way I have conducted myself has set me apart because I really try to think before I speak. I try not to say things that I can’t come back from. I’m always very careful, and just because you’re thinking something doesn’t mean that you should say it. But there’ve been a lot of times where I wanted to rip somebody’s wig off.
You always seem to be thinking two or three steps ahead. Have you ever considered that maybe you overthink things?
No. I think anyone that’s smart is always thinking forward. The smart person is always thinking about the next phase of their life. At the end of the day, my legacy won’t be that I was on a reality show. I want my legacy to be that I’ve made a change for many people, opened doors for women, that I was a great mother juggling a family and a career. Not that I was a fool on a reality show. There’s no honor in that.
You’ve been speaking around the country. What is that thing that you’re really able to dig down and share with people that resonates with them?
In this past year, people have seen how I’ve dealt with my husband being incarcerated, and I became a single mom in front of the world. But I think that on the flip side, people saw me as a pregnant woman, going to school and getting my degree. I had both of my children on the show. And I was still able to come out of all of that unscathed. People have seen me at the best and at the worst of times. They’ve seen me in heated situations where I handled myself respectably. I can speak to the students because I know what it’s like to stay up all night studying. I know what it’s like to be pregnant and go to school. I can speak to the person who is in a marriage with issues; I’ve been that person. I’ve been in many adverse situations where I’ve succeeded and didn’t compromise my morals. I think a lot of these things resonate with people because these are things that we all deal with. Tests build testimonies. As long as you’re questioning, “God, why am I here?” and not accepting defeat, that’s when you know you have the option to get out.
In 2013, you published Secrets of a Southern Belle. Are we going to see another book from you?
Absolutely. I am playing with the idea of writing a book about parenting, and about Black boys. I want to talk about how you prepare a Black boy for this society that we’re in. I’m active with the Black Lives Matter movement, because although it’s 2015, the social and racial climate makes it feel like 1960.
Do you think “Black lives matter” in this country?
No. I don’t. I think Black lives have been devalued by the United States merely because of legislation and acts of people in power that say, especially to our Black boys, that they don’t matter. I see it all too often. I think that, socioeconomically, people that sit in my tax bracket are not putting money back into our community. This year, I participated in Bloody Sunday’s 50th anniversary, and I could count the number of celebrities on one hand. I saw more politicians than people who influence the culture. They haven’t taken their platform to really use it in a way that is influential in our community.
Phaedra is currently filming the next season of RHOA. Read the rest of her interview over at Rolling Out.
Photos via DeWayne Rodgers