Who is Nicole Ari Parker?
Nicole Ari Parker is an American film, TV, and stage actor, known for her performance as the spirited attorney ‘Teri Joseph’ in the ‘Showtime’ series ‘Soul Food.’ Following her marriage, she is also known as Nikki Kodjoe. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, she showed an inclination toward acting since childhood and received a “Best Actress” award in a Maryland high-school competition. After working in theater and ‘The Washington Ballet Company,’ she earned a degree in acting from ‘New York University.’ Her first major role (in ‘The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love’) fetched her immense admiration. This was followed by movies such as ‘Boogie Nights,’ ‘Spark,’ and ‘Blue Streak.’ Her performance in the TV series ‘Soul Food’ was immensely appreciated. She also appeared in TV series such as ‘Second Time Around’ and ‘Empire.’ Earlier in her career, she appeared in a number of stage productions. Parker, who takes active interest in politics, is married to actor-model Boris Kodjoe. They have two children.
Childhood & Early Life
Parker was born on October 7, 1970, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Donald Parker, a dentist, and Susan Parker, a healthcare professional. She is the only child of her parents. Her parents divorced during her childhood. She is of mixed ancestry.
She attended the ‘Roland Park Country School,’ where she was part of the high-school drama club. In the statewide Maryland high-school competition, Parker won the “Best Actress” award. She was just 17 at that time.
Parker performed at the ‘Baltimore Actors’ Theatre’ and the ‘Washington Ballet Company.’ Soon, she moved to New York City. According to her parents’ wish, she initially agreed to study English and journalism at ‘New York University.’ However, she later changed to performing arts and won a seat at ‘New York University’s ‘Tisch School of the Arts.’ She studied acting under Tony Greco. In 1993, she graduated with a degree in acting. Around this time, she performed in ‘Off-Broadway’ productions such as ‘House Arrest: First Edition,’ ‘Chicago,’ ‘Romeo & Juliet,’ and ‘The Flattened Fifth.’
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After a few small parts in ‘Other Women’s Children’ and ‘Stonewall,’ Parker made her first major appearance in the 1995 romantic comedy ‘The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love.’ The movie featured her as ‘Evie Roy,’ a girl from a wealthy family with an affinity for literature and opera. Following this, she got mostly minor roles.
Parker earned another key role in ‘Boogie Nights’ (1997), a film about the adult film industry. The movie featured her as a porn star named ‘Becky Barnett.’ Her performance won her a nomination for the ‘Screen Actors Guild Award’ for ‘Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture.’ This movie paved way for better opportunities, as she received a plum role with Terrence Howard in the 1998 thriller film ‘Spark.’ She played ‘Jenny’ in ‘The Adventures of Sebastian Cole’ (1998). The film won an award at the 1999 ‘Sundance Film Festival.’
In the legal drama ‘Exiled: A Law & Order Movie’ (1998), she essayed the role of ‘Georgeanne Taylor.’ Some of her films released in 1999 were ‘200 Cigarettes,’ ‘A Map of the World,’ ‘Loving Jezebel,’ and ‘Blue Streak.’ Parker appeared as ‘Blanche DuBois’ in the ‘Broadway’ production of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’
Parker portrayed the lead role of TV producer ‘Tomasina “Tommy” Crawford’ in the original ‘HBO’ movie ‘Dancing in September’ (2000), in which her work received rave reviews. In the sports drama ‘Remember the Titans,’ she played Denzel Washington’s wife, ‘Carol,’ and in the romantic comedy ‘Brown Sugar’ (2002), she appeared as ‘Reese Marie.’
Parker made her TV debut in 1999, with a few episodes of ‘Cosby’ and ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.’ In the latter, she essayed a singer’s role and sang her own songs. In 2000, she received one of her career’s most important roles. She played a tough attorney named ‘Teri Joseph,’ the eldest in a family of three sisters. The series was well-received and ran from 2000 to 2004. She also contributed to some songs in the series. Her work in this series earned her five ‘Image Award’ nominations.
Parker then appeared as an artist name ‘Ryan’ in the ‘UPN’ sitcom ‘Second Time Around’ (2004–2005). The series paired her with Kodjoe, whom she had started dating by then. Their performances received accolades.
Following this, she appeared as ‘Angela Drake’ in the comedy ‘King’s Ransom’ (2005). This was followed by another comedy film, ‘Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins’ (2008), which saw Parker in the role of ‘Lucinda Allen.’
In the science-fiction TV series ‘Revolution’ (2012–2014), Parker played ‘Justine Allenford.’ She had a regular role in the ‘TNT’ detective anthology series ‘Murder in the First.’ She became part of the ‘Fox’ soap opera ‘Empire’ from its fourth season in 2017.
She has worked as an executive producer for the 2015 series ‘The Boris & Nicole Show’ and the 2017 TV movie ‘Downsized.’
Family & Personal Life
In March 2001, Parker eloped and married actor Joseph Falasca. However, they divorced 8 months later. She met her co-star Boris Kodjoe during the filming of ‘Soul Food,’ and the two began dating soon after. She got married to Kodjoe on May 21, 2005, in Gundelfingen, Germany. Their daughter, Sophie Tei Naaki Lee, was born on March 5, 2005, and their son, Nicolas Neruda, was born on October 31, 2006.
Her daughter, Sophie, was diagnosed with spina bifida at birth. Parker and her husband have started the ‘Sophie’s Voice Foundation’ to spread awareness about this preventable birth defect. Through this effort, they wish to educate multicultural communities about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.