Family & Companions
A former model who parlayed his fame into a successful acting career, Boris Kodjoe earned a name as stalwart, often romantic support in such projects as "Soul Food" (Showtime, 2000-04), "Brown Sugar" (2002) and "Surrogates" (2009). "Soul Food" was his first break in acting and one of his more complex characters: a young man locked in a variety of struggles, from identity and sobriety to the day-to-day maintenance of a relationship. What followed were more often than not soft roles that traded on his photogenic nature, but Kodjoe persisted, eventually earning his first film and series leads in 2010 with "The Confidant" and the J.J. Abrams-produced "Undercovers" (NBC, 2010). Such high-profile material promised to elevate Kodjoe from dependable ensemble player to romantic lead in more mainstream productions, virtually guaranteeing a new kind of stardom for the actor.
Named for the Nobel Prize-winning p t Boris Pasternak, Boris Frederic Cecil Tay-Natey Ofuatey-Kodj was born March 8, 1973. His mother, Ursula, was a German psychologist, while father Eric was a physicist from Ghana. The couple split when Kodj was six, whereupon he was raised with his brother and sister in Freiburg im Breisgau. From an early age, sports captured his attention and he became something of a tennis prodigy, ranked as one of the best junior players in the world. He eventually accepted a scholarship to play for Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, but was forced to abandon it after suffering a back injury. Kodj struggled with depression for a year after being forced to forgo his chosen sport, but managed to continue his studies. While on a visit to see his sister in New York, he met a representative from the Ford Modeling Agency who suggested that he give print and runway work a try. After graduating from the university with a degree in marketing, he took the agent up on her offer.
Kodj was an immediate success in his new career, landing an astonishing 12 print campaigns with Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, the GAP and others within the first seven months. Layouts in Vogue, Esquire and GQ helped to establish him as a bonafide star in the field, which was cemented by a Supermodel Award during the fall 1998 fashion season. Not surprisingly, Hollywood came calling that same year with a small role on "The Steve Harvey Show" (The WB, 1996-2002). Two years later, he made his feature film debut with a supporting role in Spike Lee's "Love and Basketball" (2000), while at the same time, landed his breakthrough acting role on "Soul Food."
His character, Damon Carter, was created specifically for the series, having not been brought over from the 1997 film that inspired the series. Like Kodj himself, Carter was the son of a black father and a German mother, though his path to fame was a somewhat less glamorous one: he began the series as a courier before working his way up to sports agent. His main story arc, however, was a tumultuous romance with attorney Teri Joseph (Nicole Ari Parker), which encompassed infidelity, a near-fatality, attempted suicide, alcoholism and depression during the show's five-year run. Viewers were more than a bit relieved to see the couple settle down and get married in the show's final season. For his work on the series, Kodj received three Image Award nominations between 2002 and 2004; more treasured, perhaps, was his co-star Parker, whom he married in 2005 to the delight of fans.
The exposure he gained from "Soul Food" led to numerous appearances on television shows like "Boston Public" (Fox, 2000-04) and in films like "Brown Sugar" (2002), which cast him as the nice boyfriend to conflicted lead Sanaa Lathan. The film earned him a fourth Image Award nomination, which preceded his first lead role in a TV series. "The Second Time Around" (UPN, 2005) was a wan sitcom about a couple (Kodj and Parker) who remarries three years after getting divorced. It lasted just 13 episodes before being shelved by the network. Afterwards, he remained active on television and in indie features; most notably the blockbuster "Madea's Family Reunion" (2006), where he once again played the gentle romantic.
In 2008, Kodj made his Broadway debut replacing Terrence Howard in the Debbie Allen-directed "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," opposite James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad and Giancarlo Esposito. The play preceded a period of exceptional exposure for the actor, who was seen in the science fiction thriller "Surrogates" (2009) with Bruce Willis before landing his first feature lead in the suspense drama "The Confidant" (2010). That same year, he joined the "Resident Evil" franchise for "Afterlife" (2010), its fourth installment and first in 3D. In May 2010, he was announced as the lead in "Undercovers," a spy drama from esteemed producer J.J. Abrams of "Lost" fame (ABC, 2004-10).
Cast (Feature Film)
Made feature film debut in Spike Lee's "Love and Basketball"
Landed breakout role as a courier-turned-sports agent Damon Carter on "Soul Food (Showtime)"; met future wife Nicole Ari Parker during series filming; nominated at the Image Awards (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, 2002-04)
Nominated at the Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for the film "Brown Sugar"
Cast opposite wife Parker om UPN's short-lived series "Second Time Around," about a couple who remarry three years after getting a divorce
Joined ensemble cast of Tyler Perry's "Madea's Family Reunion"
Made Broadway debut, replacing Terrence Howard as the tormented Brick in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" opposite Anika Noni Rose, James Earl Jones, and Phylicia Rashad
Co-starred with Bruce Willis in futuristic thriller "Surrogates"
Cast in the lead role in J.J. Abrams' spy drama "Undercovers" opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Cast opposite Milla Jovovich in action thriller "Resident Evil: Afterlife"
Reprised role opposite Milla Jovovich in action horror sequel "Resident Evil: Retribution," written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson