phaedra parks*Phaedra Parks knows her purpose for being on the “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

To hear the entertainment attorney tell it, the hit Bravo reality show is a vehicle for elevating her brand as well as providing exposure for a new funeral home business she’s starting. “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” it seems, was the right opportunity that arrived at the right time for Parks.

“It wasn’t that I had so much of a desire to be on the ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta.’ It came at a great time. I was on bed rest. I was pregnant and it was a good opportunity for me to really expand my brand because I had produced TV shows,” Parks shared with EUR’s Lee Bailey. “I am an entertainment attorney, but I had never been in front of the screen so I understood all the workings of reality except for being a true cast mate. So it gave me an opportunity to say ‘Hey, I have diversified and I can do every part of TV now.’ I know the legal side. I know the technical side and I know the artist side of it.’”

With a cast that includes NeNe Leakes, Kim Zolciak, Shereé Whitfield, Kandi Burruss, Marlo Hampton and Cynthia Bailey, Parks has seen her share of ups and downs as part of the “RHOA” cast since becoming a part of the show in the third season. The premiere of the fourth season of “Atlanta Housewives” became the highest rated premiere of any series in the “Real Housewives” franchise with approximately 2.9 million total viewers.

Parks acknowledges what has contributed to the success of “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” However, she believes that viewers can change the perception and image of her show as they ultimately have the final say.

“I think as black people, we have to stop saying this show represents our whole race. We have to vote with our viewership and say ‘On the show we want to see professionals. We want to see mothers. We want to see whatever it is that you actually want to see,” Parks said, knowing that a change in viewing habits is easier said than done. “Unfortunately, as viewers we have sort of bought into the stereotypes that the mass media has shown us for years and we glorify it. One of our biggest characters on there is probably very stereotypical of what we want to admonish as a people, but people love to say ‘Oh we love to see her cut up because that’s what we’re tuning in to see.’”

The bottom line is that drama rules on reality TV.

“It’s unfortunate, but I think we have been programmed to want to see drama,” Parks informs.  “We want to see discord. And when you see people getting along, instead of us actually praising ‘Oh wow, they’re getting along. There’s teamwork. There’s camaraderie. There’s things that’s positive about us as black women,’ people will say ‘Oh, that’s boring. That’s so boring. We don’t want to see that.’ I think we sort of went in a direction where we subscribe to drama and we appreciate that more than sensible behavior.”

With a new season of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” underway, fans can expect more of what they’ve known from Parks and Co as well as a look at Parks starting her own funeral home business. According to the former Wesleyan College and University of Georgia student, the venture is something she is putting her all into, with the goal of making it an all-inclusive effort for her family.

“I developed a big desire to be in the funeral home business about five or six years ago. I had a lot of friends that passed away and I was the person that would plan their homegoing services, so that’s how the interest started, Parks said in a statement about her motivation for creating the business. “The funeral home I’m going open will be fabulous and the services will be a celebration of life.  It will be a family business. My husband, my mother, and my brother will be involved. It’s going to be a great legacy we can leave for our son.”

EUR associate Chris Richburg is a freelance writer based in the Charlotte, NC area. Contact him via: [email protected].