Go Away With … Nicole Ari Parker

The Boris and Nicole Show

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
July 7 , 2015

Best known for her work in “Soul Food” and “The Deep End,” actress Nicole Ari Parker won rave reviews for her portrayal of Blanche DuBois in Broadway’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.” For her latest project, she has teamed up with her husband, actor Boris Kodjoe, to co-host Fox Television’s lifestyle chat program, “The Boris and Nicole Show.”

Besides acting, Parker co-founded Sophie’s Voice Foundation, to raise awareness for global health and wellness initiatives in multicultural communities. The fashionista also created Save Your Do, a stylish headband for women who work out. Fans may follow her on Twitter.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Paris. I love Paris because I love everything French. I am a true Francophile. As a little girl, I said I was going to save Paris for the love of my life and I didn’t make it there until I was 33, when Boris proposed and took me there by train from his hometown in Germany. But I also love Fiji, Cabo and Ghana.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. My neighbors were from a small island in the West Indies called Montserrat, near Antigua. In 1995, the island was destroyed by a volcano. I used to go there with them every summer as a child. I also spent a lot of summers in North Carolina, where my grandmother lived, picking blackberries and catching lightning bugs. My mom’s whole family lived on one street called The Hill. I had cousins and second cousins, aunts and great aunts, all in one place.

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?

A. To respect other cultures. When I’m traveling, I try to learn basic greetings and customs of some of the indigenous people. I’m also a foodie, so I’ll try anything from pupusas in Guatemala to the hot pepper sauce in Ghana. I make it a point to go off the tourist track and find where “the real action” is. I’ll go to a church service, a local market and a hole-in-the-wall night club, all in one weekend, to get a sense of how people live.

Q. Have you traveled to a place that stood out so much that you felt compelled to incorporate it into your work?

A. As an artist, I sometimes am lucky enough to do research about a place that will inform the development of the role I’m playing. For example, when I was on Broadway playing Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” I was able to visit and dive into the rich history of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The food, the smells, the history and the heat all helped me shape that character. Standing in front of the building where Tennessee Williams wrote the play was quite a treat.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. Cabo and the coastal woods in Northern California. Boris and I love to take the short flight to Cabo San Lucas and stay at Palmilla. The service, the seclusion and the sunshine make the perfect weekend getaway. There’s nothing like that Highway 1 drive up the coast of California. The woods are very calming and restorative.

Q. If you’ve ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?

A. We’ve recently spent two Christmases in Fiji, but my husband is from the picturesque town of Gundelfingen in Germany that is absolutely beautiful in winter, so we usually make a trip there as a family. As a result, my kids ski like champs. They leave me on the kiddie slopes! We also got married there in a 900-year-old church and then walked through the cobblestone streets to his Oma’s house, where he grew up. This is one of those places where the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker really do exist.

Q. What are some of your favorite cities?

A. Paris. New York City. I went to New York University and began living my dream to be an actress, so this city will always be in my heart. New Orleans for its swampiness, the music and the beignets. Accra. I love that my children’s heritage is directly connected to the motherland. My husband’s father is from this beautiful city.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. Prague, Hong Kong, India and Tibet.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. When I’m away from home, I always have my favorite scarf from Ethiopia, tweezers, red lipstick, perfume, my hair moisturizer and my Save Your Do gym wrap. With these essential items I can be ready for anything — meeting a diplomat, praying at a temple or dancing wildly at a music festival.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. French fries and hot sauce with everything! And a little chocolate. In all my travels, I’ve always managed to find a place that nailed these three key items.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. My fondest vacation memory as a parent was traveling to Central America with my children, so that my daughter, Sophie, could see a homeopathic specialist for her neurogenic bladder, which is one of the manifestations of being born with Spina bifida. While in Guatemala and El Salvador, I witnessed my very American children interacting, showing kindness, respect and generosity to people who live differently than them. They did not complain, they spoke Spanish and embraced all of the beautiful sights and sounds around us. It was extremely gratifying. I have yet to have a bad vacation.

© 2015 JAE-HA KIM

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