Soul Food Guy
"I like good writing. I like good scripts. TV is nowadays better than films in terms of writing. TV has come a long way, especially cable--like 'Six Feet Under.'" Boris Kodjoe.
Austria-born, Germany-raised Boris Kodjoe was an aspiring professional tennis player before an injury struck him and halted his aspirations. Standing at 6' 2½'' tall and owns unique, smoldering good looks, Kodjoe subsequently entered modeling and was widely recognized as the hunky posterboy for Ralph Lauren and GAP ad campaigns.
Kodjoe later turned to acting and began appearing with guest roles in several TV shows like "The Steve Harvey Show" and "For Your Love." He got his big break in 2000 when he snagged the role of Damon Carter, the passion/husband of Teri Joseph (played by Vanessa L. Williams and then-girlfriend Nicole Ari Parker), on Showtime's popular drama series "Soul Food" (2000-2004). He also has appeared in "Boston Public,""All of Us," "Eve," "Second Time Around," "Crossing Jordan" and "Women's Murder Club."
On the wide screen, the multilingual actor (he is fluent in English, French and German; he can also speak some Spanish) could be seen in the films "Love & Basketball" (2000) and "Brown Sugar" (2002) before landing his first film starring role in "The Gospel" (2005). He later appeared in the film adaptation of Tyler Perry's acclaimed stage production, "Madea's Family Reunion" (2006), and then "Alice Upside Down" (2007) and "All About Us" (2007). He will next be seen in the upcoming films "Starship Troopers: Marauder" and "The Trunk."
Kodjoe was named one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" by People Magazine in 2002. He has been married to his "Soul Food" co-star actress Nicole Ari Parker since 2005 and has two children with her.
Childhood and Family:
"My grandmother's Jewish. My mom is. Which would make me Jewish. So I'm a Black German Jew, if you wanted to say. [laughs] Talk about being persecuted; that's pretty deep. [laughs] So, yes, I'm still a churchgoer. Right now we go to Agape, and it's very interesting as well. I think I'll always be that way; I think a better way to describe myself is being very spiritual because sometimes religion causes a lot of mayhem." Boris Kodjoe.
Born in Vienna, Austria, on March 8, 1973, Boris Frederic Cecil Tey-Natey Ofuatey-Kodjoe was raised in Freiburg, Germany. His father, Eric Kodjoe, was a physician from Ghana, West Africa, and his mother, Ursula Kodjoe, was a psychologist from Germany. Boris has one sister named Nadja Kodjoe and one brother named Patrick Kodjoe. His parents divorced when he was six and he has since become estranged with his father.
He revealed, "My parents divorced when I was six and lived apart, so our relationship wasn't as close as me and my mother's. So it was the whole, "I'll be there on Sunday" and never show up and that kind of thing. So after years went on, I sort of dealt with it and accepted it. I looked for communication again with him and sort of arranged myself in a place where I felt comfortable with him and the fact that I respect and love him as my father, but I don't have any expectations...'' Boris Kodjoe.
Exposed by his parents to athletics and the arts early in his life, Boris became one of the best Tennis players in the country and was amongst the top ten junior players in the world until a severe back injury hindered his professional Tennis career.
In the fall of 1992 Boris, who is fluent in English, French and German (he can also speak some Spanish), received a Tennis scholarship to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and earned his marketing degree in May of 1996.
On June 20, 2004, Boris became engaged to actress Nicole Ari Parker (born on October 7, 1970), whom he met while starring together in Showtime's "Soul Food." The couple exchanged wedding vows on May 21, 2005, in Gundelfingen, Germany. They have two children, daughter Sophie Tei-Naaki Lee Kodjoe (born on March 5, 2005) and son Nicolas Neruda Kodjoe (born on October 31, 2006).
"Ever since she was born, I'm a different person. This is what I've been waiting for. This is what I've been put here to do. That's my purpose. Perpective has changed. My heart is just opened up; there are places in my heart that I didn't even know existed, you know? So it's made me a better actor, a better man, a better person, a bigger man--I feel like I'm a superhero now. It's incredible. When you come home to these two women--that's my motivation, and I feel I can do anything. It's really incredible." Boris Kodjoe (on how the birth of his daughter has transformed him as a man, as an individual).
An aspiring professional tennis player whose career aspirations ended due to a back injury, Boris Kodjoe turned to modeling after he was spotted by an agent of the Ford Modeling agency in New York while he was studying in Richmond. After completing his study, he joined Ford in New York in June 1996. Within the first seven months, his career skyrocketed as he scored such campaigns as Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, Yves Saint Laurent, and the GAP. He has worked with photographers like Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts, Mathew Rolston, and Marco Glaviano for all the major publications, including Vogue, GQ, and Esquire. He was also featured as one of the male prostitutes in T.L.C's "Red Light Special" (1995) music video from their second album "CrazySexyCool."
Soon, Kodjoe established himself as one of the few recognizable faces amongst male supermodels and was awarded with a Supermodel Award at the Fall '98 fashion shows.
Despite his relatively successful modeling career, Kodjoe fell into acting and trained with acting coach Janet Alhanti. He began appearing as a guest in such TV shows as The WB's sitcom "The Steve Harvey Show" and NBC's sitcom "For Your Love."
The new millennium proved to be Kodjoe's breakout year as he snagged the role of Damon Carter, the passion/husband of Teri Joseph (played by Vanessa L. Williams and then-girlfriend Nicole Ari Parker), on Showtime's popular drama series "Soul Food" (2000-2004), which is based upon Tillman's childhood experiences growing up in Wisconsin, and is a continuation of Tillman's successful 1997 film of the same name. He was a recurring in Seasons 1 and 5, but was a regular cast in Seasons 2-4. Damon Carter is the only major ''Soul Food'' character that was created for the television series, and not the 1997 motion picture. Kodjoe's performance in the show has earned him three Image Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Meanwhile, Kodjoe made his film debut alongside Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan in writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood's sports/romantic drama "Love & Basketball" (2000), which was produced by Spike Lee. He followed it up with a supporting role as a handsome basketball player who wooes Sanaa Lathan's magazine editor character in Rick Famuyiwa's musical/romantic drama film, "Brown Sugar" (2002; also starring Taye Diggs and then-girlfriend Nicole Ari Parker), which was based on the song "I Used to Love H.E.R." by Common. His performance in the latter film has handed another Image Award nomination, this time for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.
''... After 'Brown Sugar' (2002) all the offers I got were the hunky athlete guy who gets the girl and then rides off into the sunset. After a while it was very frustrating because I needed to play; I needed to show that I could act.'' Boris Kodjoe.
During his hefty stint on "Soul Food," Kodjoe also appeared in multiple episodes of FOX's drama series "Boston Public" and the crime drama "Street Time." He was also spotted as a guest in an episode of UPN/The CW African-American sitcom "All of Us" and UPN's sitcom starring the rapper, "Eve."
After "Soul Food" ended in 2004, Kodjoe co-starred with Nicole Ari Parker again, this time as a couple (his character is an architect) who remarried after getting divorced three years earlier, on UPN's comedy series "Second Time Around" (2004). Unfortunately, the show was canceled after only 13 episodes, citing low ratings. That same year, he also starred in Preston A. Whitmore II's straight-to-video released action/drama film "Doing Hard Time," playing the lead role of a father who threw himself into prison to avenge his 8-year-old son's death.
In 2005, Kodjoe got his first film starring role as David "DT" Taylor, a young R&B singer turns his back on God and his father's church when tragedy strikes but returns years later to find the once powerful congregation in disarray, in writer/director Rob Hardy's musical drama, "The Gospel." Recalling on how he received the role, Kodjoe said, ''Clint Culpepper sent me the script. He's the head of Sony Screen Gems, and we've had a relationship for a couple of years. Clint is an extraordinary person. He's a Hollywood executive, first of all, which doesn't mean a lot of good things usually. [laughs] But he is so not the regular executive. He's very outspoken. He calls it how sees it--that's the kind of guy he is, so I really appreciate that about him. And that's how I talk to him as well; I let him know when something stinks in my opinion, and he's the same way. He's sent me a lot of scripts, and I've told him when stuff stinks in my opinion, and then he says, 'Well, I think you're right. But we're still going to do it.' That's how he speaks, and he's had a lot of success. So he sent me the script, and I didn't read it for a long time. My wife actually read it before me, and after page ten, she told me I needed to do this movie. And then I read it, I was like, 'Wow, OK.' So I gathered all the information around the film: the director, the production, the budget, and where it was going to be shot...''
In the next year, Kodjoe co-starred with Tyler Perry, Blair Underwood and Lynn Whitfield in the film adaptation of Perry's acclaimed stage production, "Madea's Family Reunion," sequel to ''Diary of a Mad Black Woman'' in which he played the role of Frankie the bus driver. He also starred with Zac Efron in an un-picked TV pilot titled "If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now."
Recently, in 2007, Kodjoe appeared in Sandy Tung's adventure/family movie "Alice Upside Down," starring Alyson Stoner, and writer/director Christine Swanson's romantic drama film "All About Us." TV viewers could also catch him in two episodes of NBC's crime/drama series starring Jill Hennessy, "Crossing Jordan," and in an episode of ABC's cop/legal drama "Women's Murder Club."
Kodjoe is currently filming "Starship Troopers: Marauder," an upcoming sequel to "Starship Troopers" and "Starship Troopers 2" written and directed by Edward Neumeier. Starring Casper Van Dien, the film will be released directly to DVD. Kodjoe is also attached to star alongside Thomas Kretschmann and Brian J. White in "The Trunk," a drama film written by Joseph A. Elmore Jr. Kodjoe also serves as co-producer to the film.