Born in Baltimore on October 7, 1970, Nicole Ari Parker was the only child of Donald, a dentist, and Joanne, a health care professional. Bitten by the acting bug at an early age, Nicole starred in both school plays and community theater before attending film school at NYU. After graduating in 1993, she landed several supporting roles in feature films, and began to get some serious attention after delivering a powerful performance in Boogie Nights.
She subsequently made memorable appearances in pictures like Blue Streak, Remember the Titans, Brown Sugar and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, to name a few. On TV, Nicole has enjoyed recurring roles on such shows as Cosby, Second time Around and Soul Food, which is where she met her future husband, co-star Boris Kodjoe.
The couple married in 2005 and they already have a couple of kids, Sophie, 3, and Nicolas, 1. Here, Nicole talks about Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, which has just come out on DVD, and about the challenge of juggling acting and her family responsibilities.
Nicole Ari Parker Interview
with Kam Williams
KW: Hey, Nicole, thanks again for the time.
NP: No, thank you.
KW: How are
Boris and the kids?
NP: They’re great. Thank you for asking.
KW: How are you fining time to balance kids and career?
NP: I'm finding it, Kam. I'm finding it every day. You just have to. This business pulls you in so many different directions that you just have to line up your priorities, and commit to them. We really give our family love and attention constantly, because we want to do what we want to do in this business. So, we have to put 110% in.
KW: What interested you in Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins?
NP: First of all, I wanted to work with [director] Malcolm Lee. I was really excited about that opportunity and the chance to be a member of this cast.
KW: It is interesting that you hadn’t worked with Malcolm before, because you were so good in Brown Sugar which has the feel of his type of film. Plus, you are so much a part of that generation of young black actors and actresses many of whom enjoyed breakout roles in his movies.
NP: That happens a lot, Kam, It's like two ships passing in the night. We should've been matched up a long time ago, but just never had the chance until now.
KW: I think you would've been perfect in The Best Man. You would've fit in well with that ensemble.
NP: My sentiments exactly.
KW: Who did you base your character Lucinda on in Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins?
NP: It was really Malcolm’s, baby. He really had specific ideas about how he wanted her to be. She might have been a girl he knew. I don't know. But he was very clear about he wanted from her, and I just kind of fleshed it out. And it was fun to play a nice character for change. [Laughs]
KW: Was it weird having so many comedians, Martin Lawrence, Cedric, Mo’Nique and Mike Epps, on the set?
NP: No, it just made going to work everyday such joy. It was really remarkable to see them in action. They’re all so brilliant. In reality, Malcolm had to edit a lot of stuff out which you’ll now get to see on the DVD. You’ll be blown away and saying to yourself, ’I can't believe this didn't make it into the movie.’ But you just can't, the movie happens in real time.
KW: I would also guess that these comedians were constantly going off the script, and cracking jokes which might be hilarious but couldn't be included in the final edit for consistency reasons, since their improvising never got shot again from all the different angles needed.
NP: Exactly! They couldn't go back and get the coverage of it. you're absolutely right. There could be technical reasons as well.
KW: Are there any specific DVD extras you're recommending?
NP: If you buy the DVD and go right to deleted scenes, you’ll know the money was totally worth it. You’ll see your favorite comedians in action.
KW: The cast also had a couple of veteran actors in James Earl Jones and Margaret Avery.
NP: I thought Malcolm was so smart in casting them in the movie, and in giving them a chance to shine. I felt blessed just being in the same frame as James. He's so elegant and graceful in real life. And my husband got to be with him on stage recently, in the Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
KW: Do you care to comment about your upcoming projects: Never Better, Pastor Brown and Nowhere Land?
NP: Never Better is a TV pilot. For Pastor Brown, I was so blown away to be working with Rockmund [Dunbar] as a director. I couldn't believe how much my brother-in-law from Soul Food was shining in this moment. I totally trusted him behind the camera and it was a really wonderful experience.
KW: And how about Nowhere Land?
NP: Honestly, working with Eddie Murphy was mind-blowing just in terms of the budget alone. To see the respect he commands, to witness his presence, you understand why he and people like Martin Lawrence are stars.
by Joel Goldsmith
by Elizabeth Gilbert
KW: Bookworm Troy Johnson reminded me to ask you, what was the last book you read?
NP: Showing Forth the Presence of God by Joel Goldsmith, my favorite writer. And before that I read Eat, Pray, Love, a best seller by Elizabeth Gilbert. I think it might have been a featured Oprah Book Club pick.
KW: Is there a question you wished a reporter would ask you, but
none ever does?
NP: No, they pretty much ask me everything. [Laughs] They get all in my business.
KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
NP: I am like overflowing with an avalanche of happiness. My cup runneth over.
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
NP: As a mom, yeah. I worry about my kids. Like, ’Are they breathing?’ ’Are they having a nightmare right now?’ I still have all that new mommy stuff going on.
KW: That's normal. And I think you might have it for the rest of your life.
NP: My dad is so funny. He's 66 year's old, and we were in the airport the other day and he heard a little girl who was looking for her father scream ’Daddy!’ and he still turned around. You know, it's just in you. When I saw that, I thought, ’Oh, I get it.’ I'm a grown-up, but in his mind, he's still my daddy.
KW: How do you want to be remembered?
NP: I just want my kids to feel like they got the best mommy ever. That's the most important thing to me. And in terms of a legacy, I hope that I'm remembered for contributing some images that uplifted humanity.
KW: Which of your films is your favorite?
NP: I love them all, because they were all different parts of my life. So, there's really no one project. I think Soul Food had the biggest impact on me, because that's where I was really able to shine as an actress, and because I also met my husband there, and that was a huge turning point in my personal life. So, that show will stick with me forever and ever and ever.
KW: Best of luck with both your career and your family, Nicole.
NP: Thank you.
The Welcome Home
Click to order via Amazon
Actors: Martin Lawrence, James Earl Jones, Margaret
Nicole Ari Parker, Mike Epps
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Rating: PG 13
Studio: Universal Studios
DVD Release Date: June 17, 2008
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins - Film Review by Kam Williams