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"Kodjoe was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Ursula, a German psychologist, and Eric Kodjoe, a Ghanaian physician. He is Jewish through his mother and maternal grandmother.Kodjoe is fluent in German, French, English and Spanish. He has a brother named Patrick and a sister named Nadja. A back injury ended his tennis aspirations, but he was quickly signed as a model and soon after entered acting. Named one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" by People Magazine in 2002, Kodjoe has appeared in numerous movies, and his most favorited, SOUL FOOD."-Wikipedia
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Boris Kodjoe The All about Us Interview with Kam Williams
Headline: All about Boris
Boris Frederic Cecil Tay-Natey Ofuatey-Kodjoe was born in Vienna, Austria on March 8, 1973 to Eric, a physician from Ghana, and Ursula, a psychologist from Germany which is where he was raised along with his siblings, Patrick and Nadja. While attending Virginia Commonwealth University on a tennis scholarship, the striking, 6í3Ē student-athlete was spotted by a talent scout and signed to a contract with the Ford Modeling Agency. After appearing in ad campaigns for Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, Yves Saint Laurent and The Gap, Boris blossomed into a rarity, one of the worldís few male supermodels. So, itís no surprise that he would one day be named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World by People Magazine. In 2000, he turned his attention to acting, making his big screen debut in Love & Basketball, following that up with well-received appearances in everything from Brown Sugar to The Gospel to Madeaís Family Reunion. On Broadway, heís worked opposite James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. On TV, he was cast in the hit series ĎSoul Foodí as Damon Carter, a role for which he would land a trio of NAACP Image Award nominations. While doing the hit show, he fell head over heels in love with his attractive co-star, Nicole Ari Parker, and by 2005 the inseparable pair would marry back in his hometown, Gundelfingen, Germany. They now have two kids, Sophie Tei-Naaki Lee Kodjoe, 3, and Nicolas Neruda Kodjoe, 1. Despite being quite the power couple, theyíve decided to make their home away from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood in relatively-sedate Atlanta. Here, Boris talks about all of the above and his latest movie, All about Us, a romantic dramedy about a Hollywood couple who decide to settle down in Mississippi after shooting a movie there, rather than return to L.A.
KW: Hi Boris, thanks for the interview. How are Nicole and the kids? BK: Theyíre good. Theyíre on their way back from L.A. She was doing a pilot for ABC, called Never Better. KW: What interested you in doing All about Us? BK: First and foremost was the script, because I rarely, to that point, got a chance to consider playing a role like that, a regular family guy who is basically trying to balance his career goals with his obligations to his family. Itís a very heartwarming story with some really interesting, fleshed-out characters. And when I had a meeting with the director, Christine Swanson, and her husband, Michael, I admired their passion for what they were doing. I think itís always a blessing to get to work with people who have that fire about what theyíre doing. KW: What was it like filming All about Us on location in Mississippi? BK: It was great. I encountered tremendous heat and lovely people. KW: The script was semi-autobiographical. So, it must have been interesting to be acting out the filmmakersí life story. BK: Yeah, it was interesting. I talked with Michael about the character, and about his path and his journey. And it was fun to sort of associate certain things that he went through with things that Iíve been through in my life. For instance, I had a young daughter, too, so there were many parallels that I could draw on. It was funny, because we were different people, yet all young fathers obviously go through some of the same stuff, and have some of the same concerns and anxieties. So, the process was really cool to me. KW: And you and Nicole left L.A. yourselves, in your case for Atlanta. BK: [His cell phone rings] Speak of the devil. [Talks with Nicole on phone for a minute] KW: How did you decide to settle in Atlanta? BK: We never wanted to raise the kids in Hollywood. We wanted to be in an environment that spoke to us, culturally. Thatís how we chose Atlanta and found our dream home. Also, I have family coming from Europe, and her family is in Baltimore, so the choice was very practical at the same time. KW: I know you are quad-lingual: German, English, French and Spanish. What languages are you going to teach your children? BK: Well, they speak three, right now: obviously English, plus German and Spanish. Our nanny is Guatemalan, and she only speaks Spanish to them. And we speak German to them. KW: I heard that your motherís Jewish. Is that true? BK: Well, by blood, yeah. My grandmotherís part Jewish, which makes my mother and myself Jewish, by blood. But we werenít raised in the Jewish faith. I remember my mother teaching me from the age of about 3 or 4 that we had to find our own way based on many different religions, that there were many different doctrines but that they all had the same purpose. I always remember that, because it was so simple, and so poignant and deep at the same time. I try to apply that now and expose my kids to many different ideas and philosophies, so they can find their own way. KW: Did you lose any relatives in the Holocaust? BK: Yeah, on my motherís side, my maternal great-grandmother. It was ironic in a way, because my grandmother wasnít pure-blooded Aryan, and therefore she wasnít considered a member of the master race. But she got pregnant by my grandfather who was 200% German. So, it was quite a tumultuous time for her, because they had to hide her for her to survive the Second World War. KW: Did she have any close calls? BK: Yeah, she told me that someone once reported her, but she was lucky that when the SS came to investigate and found her hiding in a back room, one of the officers was in a good mood and didnít arrest her. She said those kind of experiences occurred frequently. It was a time of sheer terror and no one knew what was going on, and everyone knew somebody who had suddenly gone missing for no reason. And apparently you didnít talk about it over the dinner table at night. They were just paralyzed with fear. You didnít utter a word about what could possibly be going on or about what they had heard. It was a very scary time. KW: I hope sheís writing her memoirs. BK: Yeah, Iím going to help her write it. She had some quite interesting experiences. And then later in her life her daughter brought home an African from Ghana, which didnít go over so well with my grandfather. He kicked them out of the house until I was born. They went back with me when I was a couple months old, and said, ďLook, either you accept us, or youíll never see us again.Ē And at that moment he made a 180 degree turn and accepted me from that moment on. KW: Wow, youíre going to have to write an autobiography, too. BK: We all lived under the same roof. He had lost both of his arms in the war from a Russian hand grenade. From when I was 4, I would shave him in the morning and feed him breakfast every day. KW: Did you have to deal with racism as a child? You must have been one of very non-white kids in the neighborhood? BK: Me and my brother were always the only black kids. Racism is universal, but itís very different in different cultures. Where I grew up, racism was more about ignorance and a lack of knowledge than a controlled and focused prejudice. So, I was subjected to the type of racism where people called me names, but I had a lot of great friends, too. Overall, it was a great environment to grow up in. The place I was raised was in the Black Forest and looks like The Sound of Music. We had a great childhood, full of fun and outdoor adventure. It was very sane and well-rounded. My mother always told us we were perfect the way we were, and that we wouldnít have to worry about what people said because there are just a lot of ignoramuses in the world, and that you will encounter them until the day you die. That was her approach, and now when I look back, I can really appreciate it. KW: Barack Obama also had a white mother and an African father. What do you think of him? BK: Thatís just one of the aspects of him that I find intriguing. I think that heís an incredible and powerful man, very charismatic and intelligent. He also has great integrity and pride, and loves the country. I believe heís someone who will not only improve America internally in terms of the economy, healthcare, education, the environment and Social Security but also repair the countryís reputation which has suffered around the world over the past eight years. Heís someone who I believe can sit down with potential allies on the international level and try to make the world a better place for everyone. So, Iím supporting him wholeheartedly. I hope that people will wake up and take the country back. Itís hard to believe that we have a president who could officially deny the fact that the world is being affected by global warming. Itís embarrassing. KW: Whatís it like being named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World? Has it changed your life? BK: [Laughs] Thatís hilarious. No, it hasnít changed my life at all. Itís one of those things, like the tabloids, that you canít really take seriously. Obviously, Iím very flattered, but thatís as far as it goes. Itís a nice thing, but I canít take any credit for it. I donít wake up and go, ďWoo-hoo! Iím one of the 50 Most Beautiful! Yeah!Ē There are a lot of things that are much more important, like being a husband and father. Iíve been blessed with a great wife and amazing children who have changed my life. Itís not necessarily a walk in the park every day, but itís absolutely the most rewarding gift ever. KW: How was it playing Brick on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? BK: It was a dream come true, getting to play one of the significant roles in one of the most significant classics. I was honored and humbled by the experience. Everybody was so supportive, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen, Anika Noni Rose and Giancarlo Esposito. And the crowd response was great, everything was amazing. KW: Tasha Smith wants to know if youíre ever afraid. BK: Oh, absolutely? Iím terrified sometimes, not for myself, but for my kids. Thatís one of the things they donít tell you when you become a father, but along with unconditional love comes unconditional fear. KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy? BK: Extremely. KW: Bookworm Troy Johnson and Heather Covington wants to know, what was the last book you read? BK: Right now Iím on a spiritual trip. I read a lot of that type of book. The last one I read was The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh. KW: Yeah, Iíve read some of his stuff. Heís great. BK: He summarizes what we all know, like that the power is within you, and that as long as you can visualize it you can achieve it. Things along those lines. KW: Is there any question nobody asks you that you wish somebody would ask? BK: What nobody ever asks me is how difficult it was to come to sound like this, probably because they all assume Iím African-American. KW: True, your American accent has no traces of German. So, how difficult was it to sound like this? Did you study English in Germany? BK: I learned it here. I took classes, had a dialect coach, and watched a lot of MTV. When I prepare for a part, I still have to figure out the appropriate accent and cadence. KW: How do you want to be remembered? BK: I want to be remembered as a great father, and as someone who inspired people to have integrity and drive. KW: Whatís up next for you? BK: Iím shooting a movie right now with Bruce Willis called The Surrogates. KW: Well, good luck with that, and I hope to speak to you again when that gets released. BK: Cool. Peace.
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