Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker are bringing humanity back to the psychological thriller genre in the new Lifetime movie, Safe Room. The Kodjoe-directed film stars Nicole Ari Parker as the recently widowed Lila Jackson and Nik Sanchez as her 14-year-old autistic son, Ian. The mother and son find themselves at the mercy of intruders after Ian becomes an eye-witness to a break-in turned deadly. Parker’s valiant character will stop at nothing to protect her son, outsmart her enemies and defend her home.
While playing the role of mother to a son on the autism spectrum, it was important for Parker to establish healthy boundaries with her young co-star, who is on the autism spectrum like his character. “I had to respect his boundaries, personal space, and gain his trust to play his mother because a mother hugs, a mother squeezes,” Parker shares with xoNecole. “I had to make sure that we had a nice, trusting rapport. I felt very honored that he gave me his trust.”
Trust is also paramount in the partnership Kodjoe and Parker have cultivated over their two decades together. The two have graced our screens in films like the cult-classic, Brown Sugar, and continue to create at the intersection of their skilled professions and long-standing union. “We met on a set in a professional situation, so our whole friendship developed in that movie set, television set kind of way,” Parker shares.
Speaking to their creative process, the two have found a sweet spot in knowing when to bring the work home, which is to be expected when you have two performers who are just as much in love with their craft as they are with each other. “Usually, you get to a set and shoot your scenes, then you leave. I took advantage of the fact that [Kodjoe] brought the work home. In this scenario, I was working with the person who was going to make the movie — I love that.”
Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker on the set of 'Safe Room'
Courtesy of Lifetime
In their day-to-day roles as parents, Kodjoe and Parker have found their rhythm creating a safe space to affirm and support their children in challenging moments that come from the outside world. As trying as the last two years in a pandemic have been, Kodjoe tells xoNecole that even in today’s climate, open and honest conversations are key to building confident and fearless children. “We've had long dinner conversations every night and shared our concerns and hopes – and our children do the same. They give us their perspective and we discuss, at length, everything from social justice to equality issues, and obviously, the pandemic.”
Parker, much like her Safe Room character, conveys that being okay with a straightforward approach is essential to connecting with her children. “There's no more hiding anything from them. There's no more walking softly. There's so much coming at them that you have to go right in and be like, ‘Look, I know what's happening. I know what this means.’” She continues, “I have to give them the next level of skills on how to navigate and to be advocates for themselves.”
Safe Room premieres Saturday, Jan. 15th at 8/7c on Lifetime.
Featured image courtesy of Lifetime