Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker may be juggling parenthood and their own successful TV careers (aboard ABC’s ‘Station 19’ and HBO Max’s ‘And Just Like That…’ respectively), but the husband-wife duo – over 20 years after first collaborating on the hit TV adaptation of the classic film ‘Soul Food’ – are still finding time in their busy schedules to join forces on screen.
Their latest tag team comes via the forthcoming thriller, ‘Safe Room,’ starring Parker. Serving as Kodjoe’s directorial debut, ‘Safe’ sees Nicole portray a widow trying to protect her autistic teenage son from danger after he witnesses a break-in.
Ahead of its January 15 premiere on Lifetime, That Grape Juice caught up with the lovebirds to dish on the movie, that long-rumored ‘Soul Food’ TV series reboot, and so much more.
Read it all inside:
That Grape Juice: We’re really excited for your forthcoming Lifetime film, ‘Safe Room.’ Tell us what we can expect from it.
Boris: The movie is about a mother and her teenage autistic son who just moved to in inner city Baltimore, and are now suddenly faced with severe challenges after the son witnesses a murder and the perpetrators come after him. The 12 hours that follow are very stressful to say the least.
That Grape Juice: Besides your husband being the director, what ultimately drew you to want to be part of this story Nicole?
Nicole: Just being in this high stakes parenting scenario. I’ve never been in a thriller before, and I really was happy Boris was directing. Also, when we found Nik [Sanchez] to play my son, because Boris really insisted on hiring someone that was on the autism spectrum.
That Grape Juice: That’s one thing that makes this film a standout; the neurodiversity angle. We’re seeing more and more of this on screen, especially in casts led by people of color. Can you speak to how important that type of representation is?
Boris: It’s everything. That’s why we insisted on hiring an actor who was on the [autism] spectrum because representation in this industry means that we will see more diversity on the screen as well as behind the cameras, in the writers’ rooms, in decision-making positions, and other places.
Representation normalizes one’s experience. It kills a bunch of unconscious biases that lead to discrimination and other things.
That Grape Juice: Boris, what pressure(s) came along with ‘Safe Room’ being your directorial debut?
Boris: I love pressure because it’s a privilege to be able to be in that position. I had a great support team, starting with my wife who took a lot of pressure off my plate when she agreed to play the lead.
That Grape Juice: What do you think you’ve learned from this experience that will help even better prepare you for your next directorial gig?
Boris: There was so many bumps, hiccups. and hurdles to overcome with this film that I know I’ll be equipped to handle anything in the future. This was such a profoundly difficult 360-degree tour de force journey. The fact that we came out alive and have a movie we can be proud of is everything.
That Grape Juice: Nicole, this is a “safe space,” no pun intended. Tell me about the challenges of working with your husband.
Nicole: Well, I respect him as an actor and we met in a professional situation and we have a natural rapport. He’s the director, so I just had to do what he said. That was an adjustment. But, he knows my instrument and I trusted him.
That Grape Juice: That’s awesome to have that kind of trust. Finally, since you both are currently attached to reboots [Boris with ‘Real Husbands of Hollywood’ and Nicole with ‘Sex and the City’], what’s the status of the ‘Soul Food’ TV show reboot?
Nicole: I know (laughs)! People keep asking about this.
Boris: Yeah, we got to talk to George Tillman and Felicia D. Henderson about that. You know, people want to see the ‘Soul Food’: the next generation. We got to get it figured out.