Co-starring on an immensely popular reality TV show, embracing the advent of yet another career and raising a family are all just part of the juggling act — spokes in the wheel of an life lived in and out of the public eye.
The Neighbor Newspapers caught up with the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” mainstay in advance of Thursday’s scheduled appearance at the Barnes and Noble in the Georgia Tech Village in Midtown in support of her first book, “Secrets of the Southern Belle.”
With her signature subtle twang and candor, the married mother of two assessed her first literary project — a guideline of sorts on fashion, etiquette, dating and workplace dynamics — and other elements of her universe.
Q: What inspired you to write the book?
A: “Lately, I’ve noticed women who have been behaving very poorly, be it via social media or just out in public … and I’ve also witnessed bad behavior by some of my cast mates on the show. I’m a firm believer in [the adage] ‘When you know better, you do better. This book gives you an opportunity to do better.”
Q: How long has “Secrets” been in the making?
A: “About six months. With my life being so busy, that’s how long it took to sit down and totally write it. With being a mom, a lawyer and going to school — I’m now a licensed mortician and funeral director — time [is precious].”
Q: How would you describe your travels regarding the promotion of the book?
A: “I’ve had a lot of signings in different cities … but there’s nothing like being home. Thursday marks my first Atlanta signing — which will be preceded by a discussion [segment]. In Alexandria [La.], people stood in line for six hours; in Washington, D.C., the venue sold out within 30 minutes. I never thought I’d get the outpouring of love and support that I’ve gotten. … I was humbled, really overjoyed.
“I have a personal conversation with everyone who comes out. I’m very personable. That’s the essence of being a Southern belle — making sure every person in that crowded room has an intimate conversation with you.”
Q: Have people been able to differentiate between the reality TV personality and the other elements of your life?
A: “Some people buy the book without knowing about the TV show because they’re interested in etiquette and lifestyles of the South. The show has been a platform for visibility … but [viewers] only get a glimpse of you. I always remind people that TV is one-dimensional. … You’re only seeing a small perspective.
“Our show is one hour a week. Life is bigger than what you can put into that amount of time.”
Q: How are you able to juggle all the responsibilities and roles you have undertaken?
A: “I’m definitely a Renaissance Southern belle. “When opportunity presents itself, you have to be prepared. … [Besides], it’s great to be working. A lot of people can’t find work.
“And I’m enjoying the moment.”
Q: Has a cross section of people turned out for your appearances?
A: “Yes, it’s been a very diverse audience — all races and ages; men and women; heterosexuals and homosexuals; Christians and non-Christians; college students and grandmothers.
“I speak to a lot of different people who are pursuing their dreams and I think that translates. … Every demographic [responds] to the inspirational message.”
IF YOU GO:
o What: Phaedra Parks book discussion and signing
o When: Thursday (April 3) at 7 p.m.
o Where: Georgia Tech Barnes & Noble, 48 5th St. NW, Atlanta
o Admission: Free and open to the public