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INTERVIEW: Phaedra Parks tests out relationship on ‘Marriage Boot Camp’

ajc.com

She and her boyfriend hadn’t had sex yet when they came on the show

WE-TV has long loosened the criteria to be on its show “Marriage Boot Camp.” In other words, most of the people cast on the show are not actually married.

Phaedra Parks, three years removed from “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” started dating actor Medina Islam in early 2019. Soon after, WE-TV came calling.

She and rap legend Kurupt are the biggest names on the latest season of “Marriage Boot Camp: Hip Hop Edition,” which debuts Thursday, July 2, at 9 p..m.

Phaedra, in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said she had heard nothing but good things about “Marriage Boot Camp” from friends including Lil Mo who had been on the show. “She said it was transformative,” Phaedra said.

Phaedra and Medina had a bi-coastal relationship. He lives in Los Angeles while she remains in Atlanta as a mortician and attorney.

So they had not spent all that much time together by the time they arrived on set. So the “revelation” in the preview that she and Medina had not yet had sex wasn’t quite as revelatory as the producers made it seem.

“I’m a great long-distance person,” Phaedra said. “But you don’t have a chance to know what it would be like with someone until you’re with them 24/7. This gave us that chance to see each other good and bad, morning and night.”

Phaedra, who is now divorced from Apollo Nida after he was sent to prison for fraud a second time, admitted her track record with love has been spotty. "I haven't had the best outcomes," she said. "I wanted to really make sure I was giving my current relationship a fair chance."

She said her issues are less about trust in the other person and more about trust in her own instincts and “fear of making the wrong decision.”

Phaedra and Medina first met on a dating site, she said. When he saw her on the site, he reached out to a mutual friend to make sure she was indeed single. That friend provided him Phaedra’s number and he reached out to her directly.

“He called and we ended up talking for three hours,” Phaedra said. “He was really cool. I could have a real in-depth conversation with him. He came to Atlanta. I went to L.A. We began to date back and forth.”

On the show, the couples go through basic exercises with Dr. Ish Major. Some are repeated every season. The one Phaedra dreaded the most was the one where the show hires actors to play younger versions of the cast members and discuss some of their childhood issues.

“It’s such a tearjerker,” Phaedra said. “I’m not a very public emotional person. I know it’s just emotional.”

She said her driving force for better and for worse has been perfectionism. “I put a lot of high expectations on myself,” she said. “I had family that had high expectations. I can be an extreme overachiever. If someone is not perfect, I will try to fix them.”

Whatever “Marriage Boot Camp” did, it appeared to help the couple because Phaedra and Medina are still together nearly a year later.

Obviously, the pandemic has put a crimp on their relationship in terms of spending time together. But they are hanging in there.

“I am finding love and loving being in love,” she said.

Phaedra declined to comment about her ex Apollo and whether he’s still in the picture with their two sons who are now 7 and 10. She also declined to say anything about “Real Housewives,” but did tell People magazine she was open to returning to the show. She departed “Real Housewives” in 2017 after seven seasons.

That year, she alienated much of the primary cast with gossip and aspersions, especially targeting popular cast member Kandi Burruss. Andy Cohen that year told E! that nobody was willing to work with her anymore.

"What's meant to happen will happen," Phaedra recently told People. "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."

Phaedra said she has kept her social circles tight since the pandemic began.

“I’m following CDC rules of quarantine,” she said. “I’m not out there acting like the world has reopened like some people. I’m masked up. I will be totally avoiding people and social distancing.”

ON TV

“Marriage Boot Camp: Hip Hop Edition,” returning on Thursday, July 2 at 9 p.m. on WE-TV

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