Conversation with . . . Nicole Ari Parker

11 06 2009

After the conclusion of the popular long-running series, “Soul Food,” Nicole Ari Parker has slowly but surely begin to reemerge. Starring in the family comedy, “Imagine That,” Parker sat down with Kam Williams to talk about her marriage, the film and working with Eddie Murphy.

Parker is the better half of Boris Kodjoe, the hunky star of such films as “Brown Sugar” and “Madea’s Family Reunion.”

Married in May of 2005, the attractive power couple have two children, Nicholas, 2, and Sophie, 4, who was born with Spina Bifada, a birth defect involving an incomplete spinal cord.

Nicole and Boris have created a foundation called Sophie’s Voice to bring attention to the affliction and to raise money for an expensive experimental surgical procedure for their daughter and 20 other children.

Here, the Baltimore-bred beauty talks both about Sophie and about her latest film, Imagine That, a family comedy where she plays the wife of Eddie Murphy.

Thanks so much for the time, Nicole. I really appreciate it.

Nicole Ari Parker: Oh, thank you!

What interested you in Imagine That?

NAP: In two words: Eddie Murphy.

This was your first time working with Eddie. What was that like?

NAP: Just being around him was a big deal, because he was such a huge star when I was a teenager. So, being offered a chance to work with him, let alone play his wife, was an opportunity I had to jump on. It was also great to witness him working, and to see how he gets his “funny” across on the screen. And it was at a tough time, because we were filming during the writers’ strike, a time when there was a lot of turmoil and commotion in Hollywood.

Did Eddie have to do a lot of ad-libbing during the filming because of the writers’ strike?

NAP: He actually had to do more ad-libbing off-camera because of the strikers disrupting the set. But we still had a great time.

And how did little Yara Shahidi, who plays your daughter, handle her pivotal role in the film?

NAP: Well, she was a natural. She felt very comfortable. I attribute a lot of that to her mom, who was on set with her the whole time, and who had a very calming presence. She really kept her daughter safe, so she was just free to be her really beautiful self, and that really came across on camera.

Is this more of a kiddie movie or a family movie?

NAP: That’s the great thing, it’s right on the edge there because Thomas Haden Church’s character keeps the adults happy, while Yara just makes everyone relate, especially parents and little kids. So, it’s for everybody

Tell me a little bit about how you approached playing your character.

NAP: Eddie’s character starts off as a deadbeat dad, and I have to walk a line between being positive and not letting him get away with slacking off on his parental responsibilities. I just try to find the realness in a character, because I’m a mom, and I know that a lot of moms out there are dealing with stuff, and that keeping both parents on the same page can be tough. I was just trying to take as lighthearted yet real approach to the character as I could.

To read the rest of Williams’ interview with Parker, click here.




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