Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker say 2020 taught them how to ‘appreciate each other more, have faith’

The longtime married couple have managed to find some silver linings this year, including more time with family and the beauty of giving to others

Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker are pictured in a promotional photo. (Photo Credit, The Clorox Company)

As 2020 comes to a close, many people have begun to reflect on how this year’s unpredictable events have impacted their lives.

Longtime married couple and Hollywood veterans Boris Kodjoe, 47, and Nicole Ari Parker, 50, have managed to find some silver linings in 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, which forced them to quarantine at home for several months. Kodjoe and Parker are now using their influence to partner with Pine-Sol to support Black female entrepreneurs through the company’s online retail shop.

theGrio sat down with the pair to discuss the beauty of giving back to others, their biggest lessons of 2020 and how they’re spending quality time together as a family this holiday season.

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theGrio: We are living through this pandemic. I know you guys have been quarantined with your kids, Nicolas, 14, and Sophie, 15, and you also now have two dogs. How has that been for you with the whole family inside?

Kodjoe: Well, it’s like living with four animals, right? Two dogs and two feline lions who, like, go at each other all day. It’s been interesting because we’re having these conversations every day about what’s going on in the world—whether it’s the health pandemic or the social justice and systemic racism pandemic—there’s a lot happening. Our kids have questions, and they have ideas, they have perspectives, and they have opinions. And so, dinners have been quite inspiring.

City Year Los Angeles' Spring Break: Destination Education
Nicole Ari Parker, Boris Kodjoe, and family attend City Year Los Angeles’ Spring Break: Destination Education at Sony Studios on May 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for City Year Los Angeles )

Parker: You can see what your children have absorbed and what their assessment [is] and what their solutions are. I personally loved quarantine. Because as actors, we’re both traveling all the time. Even if he’s on set here in LA. He’s on a 14, 15-hour day. So this whole summer, from February to September, it was heaven. I was talking to my kids, staying up late with my kids. We were all in it together. It was wonderful.

Kodjoe: I mean, obviously, we felt the strain. We felt the stress, we felt the pressure that everybody’s felt. There’s a lot of people out there suffering. You know, the food banks are running out of food. There’s so many people who are really in despair right now. So we also talk to our kids about becoming a part of the solution.

theGrio: As 2020 winds down and the new year is approaching, what strong lessons do you think that you’ve learned? Even lessons that maybe your kids taught you spending so much time together?

Kodjoe: Wow, that’s a great question. Humility, strength, courage, transformational power, looking deep inside yourself. I got to know myself a lot in this pandemic, for sure. Learning from your mistakes and staying close to the ones you love. It’s the only thing that matters really.

Kodjoe: And being grateful, you know? Being grateful for what you have, being grateful for your health, being grateful for your family. Taking care of yourself too, on all levels, physically and mentally. [And] having some kind of spiritual practice and habits that help you deal with constant onslaught.

Parker: We don’t have to fight about the things that we used to fight about anymore. We solve arguments. I mean, our relationship—everyone’s always joking about how it’s driving them crazy. But we actually, like I said, have been able to appreciate each other more. I just think also with everything that’s coming at us through the news, that it can be so overwhelming. I’ve really learned how to have faith, be resilient, and think of solutions. Also checking on your friends and your family. I don’t think I’ve called my mom and dad this much ever.

theGrio: Nicole, you are a Black female entrepreneur yourself. What do you think that experience has taught you about the importance of philanthropy and Black businesses?

Parker: My business was a way to serve Black women in their hair journey and their fitness journey. What happened at the beginning of this year was that the pandemic made me regroup and reassess what I wanted my business to be about. So we manufactured masks and we gave them away [to first responders, essential workers].

Parker: There was something about this initiative with Pine-Sol that just felt like service. It was just right on the money. Black women are the only ethnic group with more business ownership than their male peers, according to the Federal Reserve. Black female entrepreneurs are an integral part of our community and the economy, so I’m thrilled that Pine-Sol will be donating $250,000 plus 100% of all proceeds from the Pine-Store to digitalundivided, a social startup that leverages data to develop innovative programs to support Black female entrepreneurs.

Finding Ashley Stewart 2017
Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe attend Finding Ashley Stewart 2017 at Kings Theatre on September 16, 2017 in (Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for Ashley Stewart)

theGrio: You both are on very popular TV shows right now, and as we’ve mentioned, we’re in the middle of the pandemic. So how did you manage the stress of filming in that environment, and still having to think about your health and your family?

Kodjoe: Well, you know, being at work is a blessing. In these times to have a job, it’s truly a blessing. So, thanks to Disney ABC, as well as NBC, we’ve been able to work with these rigorous safety precautions that we are abiding by every single day.

Parker: He gets tested three times a week, whether he’s working or not. Masks, face shields all the way up until ‘action.’

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Kodjoe: There’s pods on set where 20 people cannot intersect with other pods to keep each other safe. So that has been a really beautiful thing for us throughout this pandemic, because we’re very much aware of how lucky we are. There’s millions and millions and millions of people who’ve lost their jobs and cannot work right now. Who are suffering through this pandemic, and we are pushing so hard for us to stay safe so that we can sort of reignite the economy and get back on track.

theGrio: As we wrap up, what are your plans for Christmas and New Years? How are you guys going to navigate that as a family?

Kodjoe: We’re going to call a bunch of people. We’re going to dance around the Christmas tree. We’re going to cook, we’re going to eat, we’re gonna laugh, we’re gonna hold each other close and we’re going to make sure that we keep safe for as long as it takes. And hopefully, in the new year, we’ll be able to see our families again, our parents.

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