Nicole Ari Parker on Motherhood and Projects Outside of Acting

It’s May, the month we celebrate all the moms in our life! Nicole Ari Parker has seamlessly balanced the demands of Hollywood and motherhood, establishing herself as both a distinguished actress and a committed mother.

Known for her dynamic presence in films such as Boogie Nights and Remember the Titans, and the drama series Soul Food, Parker infuses her roles with depth and authenticity, deeply resonating with audiences. Off-screen, she is equally dedicated to her family life with her husband, Boris Kodjoe, and their two children, often discussing how motherhood has deepened her personal and professional perspectives.

In the Sex and the City revival series, And Just Like That, Parker continues to captivate viewers as Lisa Todd Wexley, a documentarian and socialite navigating friendship, motherhood and her career in New York City. Her portrayal adds sophistication and relatability to the show, enriching its narrative and connecting with a new generation of fans.

Aside from acting, Parker has collaborated with Jergens Skincare on their new Mother’s Day Campaign, “Mom-Sense,” which honors the unique, intuitive bond—often referred to as a mother’s intuition—that mothers share with their children. The campaign acknowledges the often effortless appearance of motherhood while celebrating its year-round, daily demands. Parker has also teamed up with fashion jeweler Adina Eden to create a custom, limited-edition bracelet that evokes Jergens’ classic Cherry Almond scent. This special bracelet will be available as a complimentary gift with any purchase of $15 or more from the Original Scent Cherry Almond line on, while supplies last.

EBONY spoke with Parker about balancing motherhood and her everlasting acting career.

EBONY: Have you encountered any challenges or lessons learned while navigating the balancing act of family and career in the entertainment industry?

Nicole Ari Parker: The acting industry is one big challenge. I think that some of the things we go through as actors in this business made me stronger as a parent because having all the yeses and all the noes takes a toll on your emotional life. Because I was coming home to children, I had to get my spiritual self-care really strong, and I’ve become a better person because of all the demands in all directions. I made sure to seek support when I needed it, kept my self-esteem intact and maintained my positivity and all of the things that motherhood takes, even in the face of adversity. So, they both went hand in hand, and I am just grateful that I was able to do the greatest thing that ever was, which is to be a mother and have a decades-long career at the same time.

Nicole Ari Parker - motherhood
Nicole Ari Parker, Nicolas Kodjoe, Sophie Kodjoe and Boris Kodjoe. Image: Michael Tullberg for Getty Images.

How do you like to celebrate Mother’s Day, and are there any particular gifts or gestures that hold special meaning for you?

I think that poem was pretty up there. 

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of motherhood for you, and how has it enriched your life and career?

Just being a mom stretches you in so many directions. In terms of the impact on my personal life, I feel unstoppable. I can do anything because I was lucky enough to be someone’s mom, but in terms of my career, I have a resilience and confidence that I don’t think I would have had if I wasn’t responsible for someone else’s life. It’s made me a better human and, I think, a better actor.

Jergens has been around forever. How were you introduced to the brand?

I was introduced to the brand as a child. All the mom figures in my life had Jergens in their bathroom, so the scent and the packaging were always a part of my life. When I got the call about partnering with Jergens for their Mother’s Day campaign, it was a no-brainer. This year, Jergens is celebrating Mom-Sense, which is also known as a mother’s intuition or sixth sense. Mom-Sense is all about a mother’s ability to sense what her family needs right when they need it the most. Being a mother is a unique blend of hard work, experience and scrappiness that should be celebrated year-round because being a mom is a 365-day job. I’m also excited that I was able to design a bracelet with Adina Eden, a wearable reminder that will make mom feel loved all year long.

What strategies or tips do you have for other working parents who are trying to find a balance between their career and family responsibilities?

I think anyone will tell you that balance is not realistic sometimes. Boris and I made the kids the priority during those formative years, and things eventually balanced themselves out. I wasn’t always in the best outfit if you saw me in the grocery store, but my kids were with me and that was the best choice, priority over balancing. 

What was it like to co-design a Limited Edition bracelet with Jergens Skincare and Adina Eden?

When designing the limited-edition gift-with-purchase Adina Eden bracelet, I wanted it to be more than just a piece of jewelry. I wanted it to embody the sweet essence of motherhood—the love, the strength and the sweet moments that make it all worthwhile. I was involved throughout the process, as we wanted to create something that was inspired by the iconic Cherry Almond scent while also creating a piece that moms would not only cherish but also wear proudly as a symbol of the love and appreciation they deserve, not just on Mother’s Day, but every day of the year. I loved the gold heart and specifically requested a star charm to celebrate all the mom figures in my life and to celebrate my mom and to acknowledge how important she is in my life and how she has shaped the way that I became a mother. The links in the bracelet tie back to the unbreakable link between mothers and their children, and the cherry charm symbolizes the sweetness of motherhood and is, of course, a nod to the iconic Cherry Almond scent that Jergens has become so well-known for. 

Nicole Ari Parker - motherhood

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Can you share some of your favorite Mother’s Day traditions or rituals you enjoy with your family?

I enjoy having Mother’s Day breakfast with my children. When I come downstairs, there are flowers on the table and all of the cards that I have kept over the years. One year, my son Nicholas wrote me a Mother’s Day poem and recited it in full Mandarin. Never has it been about gifts. My kids’ creativity shines through in their expressions of love because they know poetry, music and all of the things that are free mean the most to me. 

Who are some of the most influential mother figures in your life, and how have they shaped your approach to motherhood?

My mother is number one. I had two grandmothers, a godmother and beautiful, strong powerful aunties in my life. I was surrounded by a lot of mom wisdom and Mom-Sense, and the thing that was the through line for all of them was that everything they gave me was free. Kisses, attention, hugs, talking me through anything, helping me find my voice, those were the gifts that I hope I gave my kids and that they will give theirs.

Are there any lessons or values you’ve learned from these influential mother figures that you carry with you in your journey as a mother?

I think that one of the things about growing up in the 70’s and 80’s that was really important was that there wasn’t a lot of covering up, so if there was something going on, my mom always talked through it. My kids have seen all of my emotional realities. I do my best to articulate it in age-appropriate ways to prepare them for the world so that they are not shocked or surprised and that they find their own voice because life is full of ups and downs. So, keeping it real and knowing that they’re loved has been really a joy to give my children as their mother. 

Can you share a funny or heartwarming anecdote from your experiences as a mother that you cherish?

We were living in Atlanta when my kids were really little. Nicholas was just under one, and I had been in my room for a while; Nicholas was in his crib and Sophie was playing with her dolls, but it was just a little too quiet. Boris and I went into the room and Nicholas was covered in lotion and the lotion was everywhere. Sophie looked at us and said, “I made the baby shiny,” and she sure did. She was fully in big sister mode.

Have any unexpected moments or surprises in your journey as a mother left a lasting impact on you?

I see the growth and maturity in my children when I hear them talking to their friends, on Zoom calls or processing something with someone. I hear the maturity and clarity of thought, and their self-confidence comes out. It makes me really proud. 

Updated: May 1, 2024 — 9:02 am