Actress, mother, and entrepreneur Nicole Ari Parker is a rare kind of beauty. But her breathtaking appeal, as cliché as it sounds, is truly from within. I sat down with the actress to discuss spirituality and her upcoming stage debut playing the iconic queen of the Nile, Cleopatra.
By Naja Hill | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BORIS KODJOE
Parker broke out on the acting scene playing the much loved character Teri Joseph in the family affair TV show, Soul Food. She has since played in many notable films, like Remember the Titans, Brown Sugar, and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. She gained much acclaim in her first Broadway debut as Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’, A Streetcar Named Desire. But it is her upcoming stage performance as Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s, Antony and Cleopatra, that has butterflies dancing in her stomach.
Working with an acting coach for the past five months, Parker has been a diligent servant to the Shakespearian tongue. “I haven’t done Shakespeare in twenty years! And some of the cast members are from the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, so I have to do my best! I am very nervous!” she shared with a quivering voice. Her excitement became contagious as she described her awe of the iconic woman she is about to play. “This woman’s life, history, power and perseverance are still being talked about more than 2000 years after her reign and I am playing her on stage!”
Parker always knew she wanted to be an actress. At the tender age of just seventeen, her father dropped her off at New York University in hopes his little girl would find her way in the big city. She spoke of her father with great reverence as she described how God was the greatest gift he could have ever given her. “Children have a natural understanding of the expression of God, because they are so free, innocent and loving. They are the ultimate expression of what God is. But to mentally know that, they need to be made aware of God from a loving adult in their life. My father gave me that.”
God has been a recurring theme in Parker’s life. With a soft yet nostalgic smile, she remembers that even from a very young age she always yearned for a meaningful relationship with God. Eternally on a deep spiritual journey, she keeps her spirit aligned by implementing a daily spiritual practice of yoga and meditation. She laughed to herself as she spoke of the importance of, “taking God everywhere.” With a playful smirk, she told me, “I take God to the ATM machine, I take God to the post office. When the postwoman is being mean to me, I think, I see you God! And I’m reminded to stay on my spiritual game!”
I asked Parker how she stays resilient working in an industry that is so fickle and fleeting. She used the example of her deferred dreams to be on Broadway. Parker was sure she would be debuting on Broadway within a year of graduating from NYU’s Tish School of Arts, but these dreams were not actualized until twenty years later. She kept her faith and remained determined, even with constant roadblocks and rejection. She conceptualized that the universe or God gives you things when you are ready for them. Remaining faithful and optimistic will prepare you for when it finally comes. “Not only did it take twenty years, but when it came I was to play one of the most incredible roles ever written! It was only then that I was mentally, spiritually, and physically ready to play Blanche Dubois. I had grown and experienced enough in my life to do so. I knew something about love, loss, disappointment, despair, and dreams delayed.” Her words inspired me as I reflected on all the times I had not received my heart’s deepest desires. I couldn’t help but think, are they still yet to come?
She went on to emphasize the necessity of having a non-physical reality and spiritual belief. “God knows what He is doing. You must have your own language and spiritual tool box just to get your mind in the right place,” she noted. As the evening passed, I realized Parker had a much deeper wisdom than people may be aware of. I felt a sense of peace, joy and radiance that went far beyond just her physical beauty. She reminded me of the importance of gratitude. How the vibration of energy that you cultivate will emanate from within you. It is important to have a lifestyle that continuously supports where you want to remain spiritually.
Her eyes grew soft and passionate as she emphasized, “Everything has to be a source of celebration!” “You have to make sure you strengthen your friendships and take care of yourself, have fun, enjoy your life, house, job, your plants, your dog. That way, everything around you starts to sustain that vibration of optimism and joy.”
After we finished our interview, I could still see Parker’s crisp hazel eyes smiling in my mind. Her spirit was so light and infectious. Her words touched me and I realize the interview was a gift, not only to my readers, but also to me. It was a gift to remember to be grateful and joyous. To behave in a way that emits the energy you want in your life. To keep your faith no matter what obstacles you have encountered. Though many may think a Hollywood starlet might not be the source of such inspiration, this powerhouse actress truly conveyed that she knew how to appreciate and enjoy life. She is a reminder to us all to embrace the things that really matter in life.
Nicole’s Beauty Regimen
Hair: Jamaica’s Castor Oil & Save Your Do Hair Balm
Fitness: 30 minutes of weight training circuits followed by 30 minutes of cardio.
Diet: Advocate of vegetable juices
Favorite juice recipe: dark green veggies with
apple & lemon
To check out more of Nicole’s beauty secrets visit her beauty store at store.saveyourdo.com
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Naja on Twitter @najahill.