Phaedra Parks may have spent her final moments on Sunday’s Real Housewives of Atlanta season 9 reunion apologizing to Porsha Williams and Kandi Burruss for spreading drugging accusations, but the 43-year-old mother of two has no regrets.
In conversation with PEOPLE before the episode aired, Parks explained she thinks “everything happens for a reason.”
“What’s meant to happen will happen,” Parks said. “They say you’re set up to step up for the next thing, right? I know that I’m fortunate. I know that good things happen to me because I have my feet on frugal ground. I can’t regret anything, but I know it was destined to happen.”
It may have been destined to happen, but that doesn’t mean it was fun to watch for viewers on either side of the TV.
The surprising revelation — that Parks had been the one who told Williams that Burruss and her husband Todd Tucker had planned on drugging Williams and their mutual friend Shamea Morton in order to take advantage of them sexually — sent shockwaves through the RHOA cast.
It also appeared to put a fracture in Parks’ tight friendship with Williams, who had come under fire for repeating the accusations throughout the season because she believed the claims had come directly from Burruss.
Problem was, Parks had only heard the information from a still-unnamed source.
“I repeated it because I heard it,” Parks said on Sunday. “Something was brought to me. I repeated what someone told me … I shouldn’t have repeated it … I screwed up … I’m sorry.”
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By episode’s end, it appeared Parks was on an island of her own, with most of the cast accusing her of lying and many RHOA fans left wondering how the attorney, mortician and philanthropist could continue on the show.
Bravo confirmed to PEOPLE that no casting decisions have been made yet, but Parks confessed that, if offered, she’d still want to come back to the show.
“I would love to continue,” she said. “Obviously the show documents your journey, and every journey has its ups and downs.”
“It’s not always accurate, of course,” she added. “But for the moments that they capture something that’s real — like being a mom, helping someone out, having a very sensitive moment on television that turns into something beautiful — that’s the legacy that counts when it comes to reality TV. The moments that change people’s lives.”
Parks’ legacy is important to her, as is fighting the stereotypes black women are often put in on reality TV.
“I really want to show that you can be well-educated, you can be a professional and you can solve conflicts without being ratchet,” she said. “You can be a lady, you can have dignity in your dealings — whether it be personal or professional. I think sometimes as black women, we’re stereotyped in categories of being overly sexualized, of being the aggressive black woman and of being this ratchet sort of character that doesn’t know how to behave herself.”
“I want people to know that there is definitely a real kind of black woman who conducts herself in a certain way,” Parks added. “She’s not out here screaming and cursing and acting crazy. She does things differently, and people love her for it.”
According to Parks, the best way to rise above those stereotypes is by being an example of that good behavior.
“We have to show more images of that,” she said. “So that people don’t believe that the only way you can be successful and be on TV is by fighting and being a crazy character of a person — versus being very real and saying, ‘Hey, at a certain age you don’t have to raise your voice. You can think before you speak. You can articulate a problem. And you can either agree to disagree or you can resolve it.’ You don’t have to go to extremes every time you have an issue.”
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One of the things Parks is thankful for from her time on reality TV so far is the opportunity to show that ambitious women are more than just one thing — and that “having it all” comes at a cost.
“If you think you’re going to be the best mother, it may mean you’re not going to be the best friend. If you’re going to be the best worker, you might not be the best mother,” she said. “You have to recognize your limitations. You have to prioritize and give yourself some leeway, or else you’ll go crazy.”
As for how she braves the onslaught of drama that comes with the show when the cameras aren’t rolling, Parks said she surrounds herself with a strong support system.
“I’ve had great friends since I was a little girl, I’m very close with my parents and I’m constantly bringing people into my circle who believe my vision and support my vision and who I believe are positive people,” she said. “I have a great sense of faith and I have a great sense of humor.”