And just like that, Nicole Ari Parker is back on our TV screens! The actress has returned for the second season of And Just Like That, A New Chapter of Sex and the City. She plays Lisa Todd Wexley, the sophisticated wife, mother and entrepreneur befriended by Charlotte last season. This time around, the Wexleys are coming into their own. Lisa is balancing work while trying to support her husband Herbert’s grand political aspirations. We’re also meeting her father and getting an even larger dose of her mother-in-law this season, played by legendary actors Billy Dee Williams and Pat Bowie, respectively.
While many cheered for the Black and POC characters in the new SATC franchise (it is New York City, after all!), Parker reveals that some viewers vocalized their distasteful disdain for the additions. In our EBONY exclusive, Parker reveals how she rose above the chatter in one of the series' most exciting new storylines, the importance of having Black voices in the AJLT writers' room and why summer out of the city with hubby Boris Kodjoe may be the the most blissful experience on earth.
On dealing with people who are surprised there are Black characters featured on And Just Like That:
It was a big jolt for those who were fans of the show all those years to suddenly realize that they were Black people in New York City. There was a lot of analysis and pushback and scrutiny, and it was coming from both sides because the original shows also had a large, Black female audience. For this incarnation, the concerns were different: our people wanted it to do us justice and not be too topical. And I think that white viewers wanted an explanation of why we are there, which was horrible; people were commenting on posts. But [executive producer] Michael Patrick King is a full-on grown-up in the real world and he knew what he wanted to do. He knew the people he was writing about. He wasn't trying to be fake woke. He wanted to do justice within these very short episodes. And he was smart enough to hire producer Kelly Goff for the first season and consulting producer/writer Susan Fales-Hill for the second season to put in that extra level of authentication on our name.
On creating a realistic depiction of an affluent Black family:
We know that Lisa Todd Wexley truly exists. We have an aunt or mom like that, we might be like that, this woman from the Upper East Side who is very successful with beautiful kids and her own career and is fabulously dressed. At the same time, she's dealing with an aggravating mother-in-law and a husband not being able to get a taxi even at this level of success. And Just Like That fully shows what this family goes through. That helped me feel like I was in good hands, especially in this second season. While playing Lisa, I often keep Roxie Roker in my heart and imagine this is what it would have looked like if The Jeffersons’ Helen Willis had our writers in her writers' room.
On telling authentic stories for the show’s BIPOC characters:
In Lisa’s dressing room, take a look at every woman on the wall, that’s not an accident. Susan Fales-Hill had to sit down with the prop and the art department and authenticate this woman's closet. The camera passes by things that keep this lovely, fresh and beloved show grounded in realism. I've been in those situations where they just added a Black character and didn't have any realistic lines coming out of her mouth or have given circumstance to her life. Michael Patrick King knows the challenges and the consequences of doing it. And he had this heart and mind that wanted to do it right. I'm really grateful for that. I'm not the only one. We’ve got Karen Pittman, Sarita Choudhury and Sara Ramirez, and we're all different. It's actually New York City now. On any given day, you will have lunch with one of your colleagues–another fierce Black woman–and then you might meet your white lawyer friends for drinks. Then you'll go see some Latino jazz band play with your friends from the Lower East Side. And everyone’s still fabulously dressed.
On that mother-in-law we all know:
I love that Pat Bowie (who plays Eunice Wexley) is so provocative to the theme. We all have that grandmother or that mother-in-law who doesn't give two you know what's about anything. She’s coming from a very distinct Black American past, absolutely. My parents were born in 1941 and 1943, and I'm one generation away from those morals and values and presentation. These are the parents that made Herbert and Lisa.
On meeting the real-life inspiration for her onscreen persona:
I had been told so many times that I remind people of Crystal McCrary, and she got the same thing. We went to Madam Vice President Kamala Harris’ spring reception at her home in D.C. and we really got a chance to connect. It was wonderful.
The story behind that Met Gala season opener look:
When you get an opportunity to wear a Philip Treacy for Valentino headpiece and a gown that's custom-made for you in the premiere of a show that's 25 years old, you never want to take it off.
On what happens to her fabulous AJLT wardrobe:
A lot of people want to know if I get to keep the clothes and no, sadly, I don’t. Could I buy them? I'm sure I could, but I got two kids; I got tuition. Between the bag, the shoes, the coat, the hat, the diamonds, the wallet and the phone case, sometimes I'm literally wearing my mortgage payment on my body. I just have to enjoy it while it lasts.
On spending the summer in Germany with family:
Boris is from the Black Forest region of Germany, and it’s beautiful here. It's like a storybook. The kids are with us. [Our daughter] Sophie is going to Howard University in August. We've been coming here for a while, 20 years, and we’ve been married for 18. In Germany, you eat the best food you've ever had in your life. We’re at his aunt's house and she just made fresh cucumber salad from her own garden, it's called Gurkensalat, and homemade pesto. I'm sitting in the garden right now and I'm in heaven.
Watch new episodes of And Just Like That, A New Chapter of Sex and the City, Thursdays on MAX.