Boris Kodjoe has returned to the big screen with his real life wife Nicole Ari Parker on TV One original “Downsized”, which premiered September 16, 2017 on TV One. (Photo Courtesy: TV One)

In a new TV One original film, written by Michelle McKissic, actors Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe portray Ebony and Michael, a young couple forced into marriage after becoming teenage parents at the age of 14. Parker and Kodjoe, who are married in real life, explore through the characters the art of dealing with real life circumstances as a couple, and what it means to respectfully fight for what you love despite their unconventional union.

LA Sentinel (LAS): What drew you and your husband Boris to do this project?

Nicole Ari Parker (NAP): The script was incredible, young writer, she won the ABFF screenplay contest, which you know, she won the ability to have her film fully produced. TV One produced it and that’s how it landed in our lap and we were excited at the opportunity to work together again. We met on Soulfood and then we had a talk show, I guess starred on Real Husbands a few times, but this is really a nice project to sink our teeth into. And to work with Rhonda Baraka again who is just incredible, I’ve known her for a long time so all of these pieces just came together in a perfect way.

LAS: What was it like to join your husband again on screen?

NAP: We met in a professional situation, so we do well on set together.  We met creating characters together so it was really — it just feels good for us to do that. We actually get along better when we’re working together.  It’s funny, we don’t get sick of each other. Life separates us, even when he’s here, on set it Burbank, it’s 12-14 hour days on a one-hour drama, so we’re not really sick of each other yet, after 12 years and two kids.

This story was so great because the story tells of these two characters who got pregnant when they were 14-years-old and their parents forced them to make a commitment to each other to raise their family. You’re meeting them 25 years later, when it’s time to reevaluate that commitment. Now that the children are grown and they feel like they’ve done what they were supposed to do, and now they’re just like, okay well,  ‘what’s next?’

“Downsized” actress Nicole Ari Parker says when both people give, any marriage is worth fighting for. (Photo Courtesy: TV One)

LAS: Is it possible to reinvent the wheel for a couple that got married so young?

NAP: Forty-years-old these days is the beginning of people’s lives. I’ve found myself, I’m confident, I’m mature, I’ve been through some stuff, I’m ready to write my book or open my shop and now this is where the characters are at a crossroads. Do we honor what we’ve built or do we go for self? And both of them are justifiable but which one is going to get you closer to what you want to be, who you want to be?

LAS: The characters in ‘Downsized’ are much like you and Boris in the sense that you are both independent and successful in your own right. Despite this, we see in the film that the couple is drifting apart. Were there any moments you could relate to personally?

NAP: I don’t think I have the luxury of running away; I’m in it to win it, so I don’t really play with that idea of leaving the way Ebony does or as Michael does. It’s just in any marriage, there’s times, there’s rough patches, there’s communication breakdowns, and I think that what’s great about this film is that these are two people that have really been through something together and they were on the same page and that is kind of how Boris and I are. People always ask us, well how do we make it work and we start with the same want. We both want to be married and to each other and to be parents, so we’re not fighting that battle.

Our other issues probably are anybody else’s issues which are, you know, communication or making time for each other or keeping the spark alive or all of those things are very real too. What I love about this script is that these two people are disagreeing, but with respect. They’re having the courage to try to hear each other out.

Nicole Ari Parker stars alongside husband Boris Kodjoe in TV One film “Downsized”, written by Michelle McKissic. (Photo, Courtesy of TV One)

LAS: What positive images we can expect to see in this film?

NAP: It’s just a beautiful film all around in terms of representing options, and representing what is going on in the modern family with social media affecting your children, with independence affecting your partnership, with time affecting a marriage and I think that it offers a lot on many different levels.

LAS: If a young couple were to come to you and let you know that they were thinking of walking away from their marriage, not due to discord, but to disinterest, what advice would you give them?

NAP: I would first of all applaud them, even though they’re having a rough time that they had the courage to speak up and say what they were feeling because, a lot of times you hold it in, tell a friend and then go get distracted by other things or other people before you deal with the person you’ve made the commitment to. So, I love that these two people are talking about how unhappy they are and giving the relationship a chance to be in this rough place. And then, I would tell them that somebody’s gotta’ give, and if both people give, then it’s worth fighting for.

LAS: What was it like working with writer Michelle McKissic and director Rhonda Baraka?

This was my first time working with Michelle McKissic and I met Rhonda Baraka as a writer.  Her writing is so beautiful, so it was really exciting to work with her as a director. She has a keen eye for the actor’s journey, for the character’s journey and for composing an entire shot. Some of the conversations that Ebony and Michael have in the backdrop of that open landscape in the countryside is just really beautiful. It says a lot about giving the person you love the most some space. It’s just all these wonderful images that speak to our subconscious and the things that really bring healing in a relationship.

LAS: What do you want viewers to take away from this film overall?

NAP: A lot of the feedback that I’ve been getting has been that this really touched something and that’s all I can really ever ask for as an artist, as an actress, is that something that I’ve helped to create touches something deep inside of you and makes you want to be a better person, or uplifts you in some way, or that you find a way to reconnect with your family in any capacity. That could be all I could have hoped for.

“Downsized”  premiered on TV One September 16, 2017.