ESSENCE: What’s been the biggest surprise about becoming a husband and father?
Boris Kodjoe: Beside the fact that it’s love that I’ve never known before, it empowers you. Well, it empowered me. I feel like I’m a superhero now.
What first attracted you to your wife, Nicole Ari Parker?
Boris: Initially when we first met on the show, right away her energy, her personality was so amazing that I knew right away she was going to be in my life. I knew she had a very specific purpose in my life.
Many actors hate being described as sex symbols. How do you feel about being described that way?
Boris: Well first of all, everybody who knows me is aware that I don’t take myself seriously at all.
Sanaa Lathan says you’re goofy.
Boris: See? There you go. That’s true, I’m very goofy. So’s Nicole.
Does the sex-symbol attention bother Nicole?
Boris: No, my wife is very secure about who she is and about what we have in our relationship. She knows what this about. … And she’s never bothered about it because nobody disrespects her and I would never let anybody disrespect her.
It has been the year for black actors like Jamie Foxx and Terrence Howard. Do you feel like you’ve made it?
Boris: I feel like I have a long way to go, honestly. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, because I’ve come a long way from growing up in Germany, not being able to speak English and learning to speak it without an accent. The way I grew up is completely different from how people live here.
Every actor needs that one perfect vehicle, that one role to catapult them. Is The Gospel your vehicle?
Boris: It’s definitely a role that will allow me to show people what I can do. Once I did Brown Sugar a lot of the roles that I got offered were along the lines of the athletic hunk. I want to show people that I can do many different things and I think The Gospel will accomplish that. It’s about a tortured soul who goes through ups and downs. … I play a young kid who grows up in church, his father’s a pastor. He leaves home after his brother dies and becomes a secular singer. When he hears that his father is dying, he returns home to the South, faces the demons and tries to work his way back to who he used to be.
You have an incredibly eclectic background. Do you wish more Americans, and especially African-Americans had a more complete cultural and political awareness of the rest of the world?
Boris: Absolutely! It’s something that I think is very important. It contributes to us not only learning about ourselves but about our place and position on a global scale. There are billions of other people on this planet. [PARA]
They say that only 1% of Americans have a passport.
Boris: Isn’t that sad? I always tell people to travel. There are more similarities than you might expect. At the end of the day, we’re all human.…When you travel, you’re able to paint a different picture about social and political aspects of this country. You get a different perspective, and sometimes that helps to, or it motivates you to take a stand. To vote, to take part in what’s going on in this country and not just sit back and have that attitude of, well, they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do anwyay. Especially nowadays with the war in Iraq. It’s more important than ever to speak out and ask questions and question authority.
You were once the seventh seeded junior tennis player in the world. How’s your game now?
Boris: I played today, actually. I love the game. I still play a lot. Serena (Williams) comes through and we work out together. And … A dream role of mine is to play Arthur Ashe.
With all due respect to a great man, you’re way hotter than him.
Boris: That’s why I’m an actor! Jamie Foxx doesn’t looking anything like Ray Charles!
Boris: Oh absolutely not. No, not at all. It seems longer than it’s been. It’s only been five years since I started acting. It’s been a great learning experience to be inspired by all these amazing artists. I have a lot of goals in front of me as I climb up the ladder and as I become a better person and a better artist. So there’s nothing I regret at all.
Alynda Wheat is a staff writer for Entertainment Weekly.