A week before the premiere of her new ABC series, Time After Time, Nicole Ari Parker
is getting pretty in her dressing room at The Real. It’s midafternoon in Los Angeles (3 p.m., to
be exact), and she’s up next for a segment on the daytime gabfest. With the soothing sounds of singer Sara Tavares billowing in the background, Parker gazes at the mirror as her hairstylist brushes her honey-hued strands into a high bun. Between laughs, and while waiting for her makeup artist to settle on the just-right lip color, she gives a rundown of her day—which, for the record, began at 6 a.m. with a kiss for her husband, actor and photographer Boris Kodjoe. Then, she adds, “I prayed, got the kids off to school, exercised, ate and left for acting class.” And that was all before 10 a.m. 

The star’s film, stage and small-screen credits span more than two decades and include movies like Boogie Nights and Brown Sugar, Broadway’s A Streetcar Named Desire and the TV series Soul Food and Rosewood. As with her performances, Parker’s real-life roles—wife, mom to Sophie, 12, and Nicolas, 10, and creator of the ever-popular save-your-hair-while-working-out GymWrap—require her to be front and center. But when work calls, the balancing act can get a bit tricky, especially when the job is across the country. “I love New York, but it’s tough to be away,” she says of her new show, which films back East. “The great thing about being part of an ensemble cast is that you don’t shoot every day. So if I’m off on a Thursday and Friday, I run to the airport and make it a four-day weekend.” Once at home, Parker immediately slips back in step with her family’s rhythm. And on the next day and the day after, she does it all over again, with a grateful heart, always: “We have a nice, simple life. I’m blessed.”

Keep reading for a sneak peek into her daily routine! 

This feature originally appeared in the May 2017 Issue of ESSENCE Magazine.