After kicking off the Atlanta installment of the "Real Housewives" franchise with a lavish birthday bash, the south's Head Housewife in Charge, Sheree Whitfield, might have won more foes than friends. But don't let Whitfield's designer duds fool you. The budding fashion designer and fitness buff proclaims she is a lot more relatable and warm than her naysayers think. Half way through the season, ESSENCE.com caught up with the mother of three to discuss her thoughts as she watches the other housewives criticize her each week, rumors about bounced checks and family turmoil, and how her life should be a shining example for young mothers.
ESSENCE.COM: Hello again, Sheree. This show has truly been a hit, so congrats on the success. How has the response been and are you guys doing Atlanta justice?
SHEREE WHITFIELD: People notice me every day. I'm like, "Oh my gosh, does that mean I have to put a face on every day?" I don't like wearing makeup (laughs). It's something that's obviously long overdue because people have been waiting to see [a show] like this and are definitely tuning in. We're not here to represent all of Atlanta. There are people who relate to us and people who cannot. Unfortunately, on the show they show us going to a lot of parties. We do things for the community, too, but they aren't showing that.
ESSENCE.COM: There have been rumors in the blogosphere about the fragility of your relationship with your eldest daughter, Tierra. How is your relationship with your daughter and how is she enjoying the show?
WHITFIELD: She likes the show and we have a great relationship and you just have to take the good and the bad when it comes to rumors. I want to mentor young girls. A lot of times they become young mothers and think, I've made a mistake, I've gotten myself pregnant. They continue the cycle by having more kids. Yes you can continue to dream and you can still finish school and be who you want to be. Your life is not over.
ESSENCE.COM: You mentioned that you don't check the blogs, but they definitely have their eyes on you. Is it true that you gave one of your party planners a bounced check?
WHITFIELD: I've heard that one. And if I gave you a bounced check, sweetie, post the check. Don't talk about it. One lesson I have learned through this is you realize who your real friends are. I found out someone who [I thought] was close to me has been sending a lot of the negative stuff to different bloggers. I guess I cut her 15 minutes to 2. That was an eye opener.
ESSENCE.COM: (Laughs.) The bloggers will always talk, but are you surprised by cast mates Kim and NeNe's comments about you?
WHITFIELD: Yeah, I have been surprised with their comments, though I've never heard Kim sing. One woman can be a little cattier than others. After my party, Kim and NeNe got together and totally bashed me. I thought it was crazy because I'd met Kim a few years prior through NeNe and we only saw each other in passing. So for her to sit and say all those mean things about my character, it was way out of line and she had no merit. Since the show, I've gotten to know her and you guys will see that.
ESSENCE.COM: So what do you think is the biggest misconception about you?
WHITFIELD: People are focusing on one facet of my personality but I am multifaceted. I am like a diamond and have many sides. I am a sweet person and loyal. I'm real and down-to-earth. And I am drama-free. Anybody who knows me knows I do not do the drama. Again, it's crazy because on the show; it looks different but you can't control that. When you are [followed], taped for months, and that [content] is edited, you become a character. Even so, I get so many e-mails from young girls that say I inspire them or that they admire me. If I can inspire one person, then I've done a tremendous service. So regardless of negative comments, that one e-mail outweighs the others.