Words and Images: by DeWayne Rogers
Hair: Derek J
Makeup: Dionne Wynn
Wardrobe: Leah Taylor and Renee Brown
The headline on this week’s cover story reads “Love Never Looked So Good,” which makes perfect sense in relation to our cover subjects. It’s no secret that Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker are blessed with freakishly good looks — almost as if they were genetically created in a lab to mate and create a master race.
So it would be easy to solely focus on their looks when exploring their relationship. But if you took that approach, you would rob yourself of something very endearing. From the moment they arrived on set for their rolling out cover shoot, Boris and Nicole displayed the type of bond that we often saw in Cliff and Claire Huxtable … or better yet, now with Barack and Michele.
Yes, seven years in and the sparks that we originally witnessed in “Soul Food” now appear to burn hotter than a blue flame. Their chemistry was a refreshing and welcomed addition to our time together on set. It also provided a few hilarious moments when it was time to “talk shop” as the couple shared insights on life, love and the challenge of disciplining their kids (yes, it’s hard for them too.)
You’ve both been keeping incredibly demanding schedules. Can you fill us in on what you’ve been up to?
Nicole: Well, I just finished a sixteen-week run making my debut on Broadway. I just closed A Street Car Named Desire on July 22, and then I took a much-needed family vacation with Boris and the kids. Being away from home was tough, but the challenge and the thrill of being on Broadway was so fulfilling, and I’m thankful to my husband for making it possible and holding it down at home.
Was it all pleasure? Did you get a chance to see any extended family while you were gone?
Nicole: We just got back from Germany seeing Boris’ grandmother. Now in a couple of weeks, I’m off to London to do the run of the play on the West End, so that is also very exciting. I play the character Blanche, and I am fortunate to be the first African-American to play that part. So I’ve really enjoyed my time with this experience.
And what about you Boris?
Boris: I’ve been at home with the kids. I’ve been driving them to surf camp, making sure that they are at ballet and karate, and just doing everything that I’m supposed to do as a father. I’ve also been prepping for my directorial debut. It’s a film called Looking For Jimmy Lee, and I’m really looking forward to that.
You’re also in the latest Resident Evil installment. Tell us about that.
Boris: Well it’s the fifth installment of the franchise, and it’s a homecoming for me. Working with Mila [Jovovich] and her husband is always a great experience. We trained for six weeks before we started filming … it was very demanding with a lot of action sequences and fight sequences. Ultimately, I think it’s really going to be something that audiences enjoy.
How do you handle the rigors of the industry when you both have demanding schedules that take you to opposite ends of the globe?
Boris: We work really hard at making sure that our kids always have a sense of stability and routine, which means that when one of us is working, we try our best to make sure that the other is in place so that they can still go to school and do all of the things that they are accustomed to doing in their routine. And then, we also make sure that we visit each other. When Nicole is in London, I am going to make sure that I go and see her. And at the end of the year, we will take the kids over to see her and spend the final five or six weeks of her show together. When she was on Broadway, she would always fly home to see the kids if she had a day off, and to also spend time with me. So that’s how we try to keep things going … family comes first with us, so we’re going to do what we have to do to make this work.
Do your kids understand it when you have to be away? Have you explained to them the industry that you are in so they can come to terms with you being away?
Boris: Our kids don’t know anything about Hollywood. They just know that sometimes Mommy and Daddy have to go away for work. And they know that if Mommy is gone, then Daddy is going to be there, and if I’m gone, then Mommy is going to be there … at least one of us is always there. We also take them with us at times. I took them to New York at least three times to see Nicole, and we stayed a few weeks. We take them backstage and on set so they can see what we do, but they don’t look at it as Hollywood. They just know that this is where Mommy and Daddy work.
What is the process when an opportunity comes for either one of you? Do you sit down and see if it will work for the family and your schedule with the kids, or do you take the big role first and figure it out later.
Boris: We prioritize things, and family always comes first. We sit down together, and then we just weigh the pros and cons and figure out what ‘s best for the family. When we found out that Nicole would be in London, I turned down some things because I knew that I needed to be there for the kids — and she’s done the same thing for me. When you keep in mind what your priorities are, and for us it’s family, all of the other things just kind of fall into place.
What’s been the easiest and hardest part of parenting and marriage?
Nicole: Being a parent is the hardest job ever in life. Raising children uses every bit of your being — your heart, your time, your patience, your foresight, your intuition to protect them, and you have to use all of this while trying to figure out how to discipline them.
It takes its toll on a marriage as well. The time that should be spent with each other after the kids have gone to bed is usually spent face down, in your clothes, on the sofa with the remote control in your hand. It’s exhausting … but we’ve been married for seven years, and I think that the greatest challenge but also the greatest gift, is understanding that I’m way more capable than what I think I am. You have to work hard not to take your partner for granted, even when you are tired. We have a special needs child, so we also have to get up in the middle of the night and check on her. So, I’ve been pushed to the limits that I thought I had, and I’ve gone beyond those … that’s been the greatest gift throughout this journey with my husband.
Boris: As far as our marriage goes, again it’s all about priorities. We make sure that we put in some sexy time, and we go out on date nights and spend quality time together, because we were here first. Everything else is a reflection of that. If she and I are good, then everything else is good. So it’s very important that we put in the time to cherish each other.
Can you describe for us what it was like when you first realized that you loved each other?
Nicole: Boris might have a different version, but from my side there was immediate chemistry, and that’s not necessarily sexual. It was just immediate understanding, flow of conversation, intellect, and an instant trust. “Soul Food” made us make out all the time, so us wanting to kiss each other was handled on set … but that really wasn’t the crux of our relationship. There was an immediate deep trust and love there for me, and I knew that he was going to always be in my life somehow, I just didn’t know how.
The great thing is that we really were friends first. When you’re shooting 14 hours a day on a set, you see a lot. He saw me when my eyebrows weren’t tweezed and when my gray hair came in, and when I was in my pajamas at five in the morning going into the dressing room. So we had no choice but to be really real from the very beginning.
Your thoughts Boris?
Boris: What she said was so true and poetic. We had instant chemistry, and right away there was an attraction, but it was more on a spiritual level. I knew right away that she was going to be in my life forever. I didn’t know in what capacity, but I just felt that. That just happens when you meet a person that is on the same wavelength. We saw eye-to-eye on so many things. She was open minded, well traveled, and had a great sense of humor — which are all very important to me. The fact that she became my wife was definitely a bonus. It worked because we were friends and liked each other as people first, which is very important in a relationship. You can fall in and out of love, but if you like each other as people, then I think that’s a great foundation to grow a relationship, and we had that, so I’m very lucky.
Nicole, I want you to finish this sentence for me. ‘My husband makes me feel beautiful when…’
Nicole: When he looks me right in the eye.
Boris, ‘My wife makes me feel like the king of the world when…’
Boris: My wife makes me feel like the king of the world when after a long day of working she tells me to put my feet up and cooks an amazing meal for me.
Here’s the last question for each of you to answer: “I’m a better person today than I was before marriage because…”
Boris: I’m a better person today than I was before marriage because my wife makes me a better man.
Nicole: I’m a better person today than I was before marriage because I get to care about one of the greatest human beings on the planet.
Check out this exclusive video from our shoot with Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker
Want more pictures from the shoot? We’ve got you covered. Click below.