Parker with Kam Williams
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins Interview
Nicole Ari Parker really
arrived in 2000 when she played Denzel Washington’s wife
in Remember the Titans. Since then, she’s appeared in
Brown Sugar and King’s Ransom on the big screen, while
enjoying recurring roles on a couple of TV series, Soul
Food and Second Time Around.
In 2001, the
Baltimore-bred beauty eloped with actor Joseph Falasca,
though their union would last just eight months. Four
years later, Nicole married her Soul Food co-star, Boris
Kodjoe, and they already have a couple of kids, Sophie
Here, she talks about
her latest movie, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, an
ensemble comedy about a Hollywood talk-show host who
finds himself cut down to size when he returns to his
Georgia roots for his parents’ 50th anniversary.
Directed by Malcolm Lee, the film features Martin
Lawrence in the title role.
* * * *
KW: How are you and
Boris balancing raising children with your acting
NP: Before we had kids,
we would dream about having two kids, and we would say
that we weren’t both going to work at the same time. And
we had this whole ideal game plan which we’ve totally
thrown out the window. We both got work, and we both
just jumped right in. We took the kids with us. They’re
young enough right now that we can do that. To answer
your question, we’re winging it.
KW: What interested you
in playing Lucinda?
NP: Honestly, for me, it
was a lot of fun to play the sweetheart, because, as you
know, for a long time, I wasn’t a sweetheart on
television. But I did marry a sweetheart. [Chuckles]
Here, I got the opportunity to be the nice girl. And for
me, that was a blessing.
KW:Tel me a little
about your character.
NP: Well, I think the
Lucinda aspect of the movie just adds another layer to
the Clyde (Cedric the Entertainer) and R.J. (Martin
Lawrence) battle, because I was another thing that they
had competed over from childhood. Clyde always liked me,
and kind of pushed that in R.J.’s face. R.J. never
really spoke up about it, and this is one opportunity
where I’ve come back into R.J.’s life. We haven’t seen
each other in a really long time, and we catch up about
what we’ve been doing. He’s gone off to become this huge
star, and I’ve still had a simple life. We just meet up
again, and I show up with Clyde, and that sets the stage
for more competition. It just feeds the whole fuel.
KW: How was it working
with Martin Lawrence?
NP: Really good. A lot
of big stars, they don’t want to stay for the coverage
when the other actors are shooting. But he stands by the
camera and feeds us his lines, every time, like he was
still doing a performance on his close-up. It’s been
really amazing to have all that support. It’s been a
really wonderful experience.
KW: What was it like
being on a set with so many comedians?
NP: It was interesting
to watch because everybody has their own style. Everyone
had their own magic. I have so much respect for what
they do, and for how they kept their own thing going
within the family theme of the movie. But for my
character, for me being the straight man in the film,
you start to get a little delirious between takes and
think that you’re funny and a comedian, too, because
you’re surrounded by Mike Epps, Ced, Mo’Nique and
Martin. And so you’re thinking, “Yeah, on my close-up,
I’m going to say something funny, too.” But it was
amazing to watch them in action. I was blown away.
KW: Were they
competitive with each other?
NP: Yeah, they were
totally competitive. But it was the best kind, because
they were inspiring each other, and helping each other
to improve their jokes. They still knew they were making
a movie and stayed with the same theme.
KW: How about working
with a legend like James Earl Jones?
NP: I think I stared at
him most of the time. I was just in awe that I was in
the same frame with him, given his body of work. I was
also in awe of his stature and his strength, because in
real-life, he’s bigger than his persona, even at his
age. His still enormous and has got that charisma.
KW: As a serious
Shakespearean actor, did he seem uncomfortable around so
NP: Not at all. He even
had jokes when he was hanging with Mike Epps. At first,
I kept hitting Mike under the table, because he was
saying things like, “That [N-word]…” or “I told that
mother-[expletive]…” I had to remind him, “Mike, James
Earl Jones is here today. You don’t talk like that in
front of James Earl Jones. Have some respect!” But Mike
would say, “Oh, James, you know you’re a player.” And
James was a remarkably good sport about it.
KW: What is Malcolm Lee
like as a director?
NP: Malcolm is very
focused, no matter what is going on. No matter how crazy
it’s getting, he’s calm and very secure in the shots he
wants to get, even if we’re all exhausted. Even if we’re
in the 14th hour of a 12-hour day, he finds a way to
bring the energy back, and get us all rallied up to
stand in the rain and keep going.
KW: This film is being
released in February, Black History Month. What do you
see as the significance of Black History Month?
NP: I think it’s
important to find a way to make Black History Month less
of a history lesson and more of a way of life. We need
to inspire not just the young people, but the older
people, too, because after school, the young people are
going home to their moms and their dads. So, everybody
has to be inspired by who they are, who they can be, and
what their purpose is in this world. We have to start
with history, but I think we have to bring it right into
the moment, and make the best of our lives right now.
That’s how things can change, and take it out of
February, and into the whole year.
KW: Jimmy Bayan, realtor
to the stars, wants to know where in L.A. you live.
NP: We live in Atlanta
full-time now. Boris was shooting two films down there,
and I’d just had my baby. We’d been staying in hotels
for maybe seven months, when I decided to call a real
estate agent and look around. And we found our dream
house! And that’s how we’re rolling right now. It’s been
a bit of an adjustment, but with the kids, it’s just so
nice to chill and not be so Hollywood all the time.
KW: Well, thanks for the
interview and best wishes to you and Boris and the kids.
Steven Williams the photographer /
from left to right, are Boris Kodjoe,
Nicole Ari Parker and Alfre Woodard.
posted 5 February 2008
* * *
* * * * *
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of
By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the
rosy picture of race embodied in Barack
Obama's political success and Oprah
Winfrey's financial success, legal
scholar Alexander argues vigorously and
persuasively that [w]e have not ended
racial caste in America; we have merely
redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial
segregation has been replaced by mass
incarceration as a system of social
control (More African Americans are
under correctional control today... than
were enslaved in 1850). Alexander
reviews American racial history from the
colonies to the Clinton administration,
delineating its transformation into the
war on drugs. She offers an acute
analysis of the effect of this mass
incarceration upon former inmates who
will be discriminated against, legally,
for the rest of their lives, denied
employment, housing, education, and
public benefits. Most provocatively, she
reveals how both the move toward
colorblindness and affirmative action
may blur our vision of injustice: most
Americans know and don't know the truth
about mass incarceration—but her
carefully researched, deeply engaging,
and thoroughly readable book should
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 15 April 2012