Current and future fans of Kodjoe will have the chance to see him when he comes to Fayetteville this month for the second annual “True To Yourself,” A Black History Month Talk Series with Piedmont Natural Gas, presented by the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County.
The event is slated for Saturday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m., in J.W. Seabrook Auditorium on the campus of Fayetteville State University. The moderator is Cumberland County District Court Judge Toni King. A question-and-answer session with the audience will follow the talk. For the second year, Piedmont Natural Gas has signed on as the Title Sponsor.
"Piedmont Natural Gas is proud to return as the Title Sponsor of 'True to Yourself,'" said Tammy Thurman, Community Relations Manager for Piedmont Natural Gas. "Piedmont works every day to strengthen the communities where we live and work, and we are glad to support this opportunity for Boris Kodjoe to bring his inspirational message to the people of Fayetteville and Cumberland County."
“Boris Kodjoe is an in-demand speaker who will share the story of his personal and career triumphs and challenges, all the while remaining true to his ideals and authentic self,” added Deborah Martin Mintz, Executive Director of the Arts Council.
Perhaps currently best known for his roles on the “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff “Station 19” and on Netflix’s “House of Cards,” Kodjoe will portray O.J. Simpson in “Nicole and O.J.,” a movie slated for March release.
Born Boris Frederic Cecil Tay-Natey Ofuatey-Kodjoe in 1973, he is the son of a German psychologist mother and a physician father from Ghana, West Africa. Boris excelled in sports and rose to be a top-ranked tennis player in Germany, where he grew up. A professional tennis career appeared imminent, but a back injury forced him to explore other options. One option revealed itself in 1992 as a scholarship offer from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he earned his marketing degree. After graduation, yet another opportunity surfaced, when the Ford Modeling Agency signed Kodjoe. He quickly became one of the most recognizable faces in advertising.
Hollywood took notice and soon Kodjoe was featured in “Love and Basketball,” as well as the TV series “Soul Food,” a show that introduced him to his co-star and future wife, Nicole Ari Parker. Among his other credits are BET’s mock-reality show “Real Husbands of Hollywood”; the FOX hit comedy “Last Man On Earth”; the role of the opinionated chief of surgery Dr. William Campbell in “Code Black”; as Captain Sullivan on the Shonda Rhimes-produced “Station 19” on ABC; and as Congressman Cole in Netflix’s “House of Cards.”
Kodjoe says he realized one of his dreams in 2008 when he made his Broadway debut as Brick in the Tennessee Williams classic “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” alongside James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad.
In 2010, Boris and his brother Patrick launched World of Alfa, a clothing company offering high-quality, custom-made shirts and suits at affordable prices. According to a press release, Alfa’s team initiative is to redefine network distribution and empower people to start their own businesses.
With his wife, Nicole, Boris Kodjoe also is a champion of change in another way. They have established the Sophie’s Voice Foundation in honor of their daughter who was born with Spina Bifida. The foundation assists families who are affected by the birth defect and helps educate women of childbearing age about the importance of folic acid in preventing Spina Bifida. Sophie’s Voice Foundation, in partnership with the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, established the Center of Spina Bifida Research and Prevention in Atlanta. The goal is to eradicate all preventable Spina Bifida worldwide in 10 years.
Such focus and determination is a constant in Boris Kodjoe’s story. The Fayetteville event featuring this Renaissance Man is not only meant to offer insights into achieving personal and career success, but also to inspire others to pursue their passions.
As Kodjoe puts it in a social media post: “If you believe in yourself and you are not afraid to express your dreams, there are no limits to what you can do.”
Tickets to Boris Kodjoe’s “True To Yourself” event are $20; special group rates for 25 and more are available. Visit theartscouncil.com/truetoyourself, or purchase tickets at the Arts Center, 301 Hay St., in downtown Fayetteville, 910-323-1776.
ABOUT THE ARTS COUNCIL
Founded in 1973 by a group of local visionaries, the Arts Council supports individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development and lifelong learning through the arts. The Arts Council organizes and produces the International Folk Festival and A Dickens Holiday; spearheads public art initiatives in the community; administers grants and project support for both arts and cultural groups and individual artists; and oversees the extensive Artists in Schools program in Cumberland County and Fort Bragg. The Arts Council also is known for creating innovative exhibitions throughout the year in their Gallery at the Arts Center, 301 Hay Street in downtown Fayetteville.
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The Arts Council’s grants, programs and services are funded in part by contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.