By Sandy M. Tyler

The Real Housewives of Atlanta return to Bravo for season four of the series this Sunday, Nov. 6, at 9 p.m. Intown housewife Cynthia Bailey took some time out from her busy schedule to talk to Atlanta INtown about how she wound up becoming a reality star, what to expect in the new season and what it means to be real.

You’ve done so many interesting things in your life. How did you wind up in Atlanta and a Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member?
I ended up in Atlanta because I met my now husband Peter Thomas who had moved to Atlanta from Miami. We went back and forth on whether he was moving to New York or if I was moving to Atlanta, and I decided it was time to make a move. About 8 months after I got here, there was a casting for new Real Housewives of Atlanta cast members. People I knew had mentioned I should be on the show, and I was eventually approached because my name kept coming up as a candidate. I took a meeting, which led to another meeting, which led to a phone call with Bravo and a screen test. It seemed really crazy that I might actually wind up on a reality show! Originally, they were just looking for one new cast member, and it was between me and Phaedra. We both wound up on the show because Phaedra and I are very different.

What was it like watching your rookie season? It’s one thing to go through the video taping process, but I imagine it’s quite another watching your life on TV as part of an edited storyline.
It was honestly a little mortifying. It was my first time at the playground in every way – first time living in Atlanta, first time getting married. I say there’s no season like the first season. There’s no book on how to be on a reality show. You just have to go through it. Peter and I decided the best thing to do was to put it out there – to be real. On one hand, I’m glad we put it all out there. On the other hand, I feel like we gave too much.

Did you change anything for your second season? Try to present yourself or your family in a different way? Were you more guarded? Less?
One of the things that I definitely changed is I think I’m more opinionated. I’m more engaged with the other cast-mates as well. Last season, NeNe was my friend on the show, but this season I integrated with more than just NeNe, and I’m much more vocal.

Atlanta’s Real Housewives are the most popular of any of the Housewives series on Bravo. Why do you think the Atlanta cast is the one everyone wants to watch?
You know, there’s something on our show for everybody. Our show offers something different; we’re organic. It is what it is with us. We’re more real, and you’re going to get great moments and major train wrecks with us.

You’re our first real Intown housewife. People see you out and about in the neighborhood where you live and even at the grocery store, though granted looking better than your average shopper. Why do you Keep it INtown?
I lived in New York City for 25 years, and I’m more of a convenience person. I still travel a lot to New York and Los Angeles, and I like being near the airport. And in the Grant Park area where I live, there are more stores and things to do near my home, and I can walk to those places.

What can you share with us about this season’s Real Housewives of Atlanta? What can our readers expect to see?
Well, Africa will never be the same. We took an amazing trip there, and it’s one of my favorite things we shot this season. I felt like I really bonded with each of the girls individually on the trip. We were stuck together for 10 days in a Third World country, and it brought us together.

You and your husband Peter Thomas have so many new ventures going on. Anything in particular you want to share with INtown readers?
I opened the Bailey Agency School of Fashion, and I call it that because a lot of people who come through the door can’t be models, but they still want to get into the business. I wanted to offer them other things to do and teach them how to be make-up artists, hair stylists, fashion stylists and photographers. Not just kill their dreams (if they can’t be models). Peter has just opened Bar One in the Grant Park area; he got right back into the business after Uptown closed. I think people really related to our troubles last year with this economy. I got so many letters from viewers who were losing their jobs, losing their houses, losing their cars. They were glad to see that people on TV have problems, too. It was really real. I can’t fake that kind of pressure.

Congratulations on the recent opening of Bar One. What’s the best night for our readers to visit?
I think Friday and Saturday nights will be great. We have lots of events coming up, and on Sunday nights, we’ll be hosting Real Housewives of Atlanta viewing parties. Either Peter or myself or both of us are going to try to be there whenever we can.

Brigette and I will be spending our Sunday nights giving the once-over to each new episode, so log on to INtown’s blog every Monday afternoon for the latest show recap. And be sure to let us know what you think of all of the Atlanta Housewives’ unpredictable moments.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.