Kodjoe told Watson he was made fun of in his native country while growing up
The Carlos Watson Show, launched in summer 2020, is described as “a flavorful talk show built to meet this historic moment.” In an episode set to premiere next month, Boris Kodjoe opens up to Carlos Watson about his experience growing up as a Black kid in Germany.
In an exclusive clip, Kodjoe, the Station 19 star spoke to Watson about fooling people into thinking that he was from the United States. Born Boris Frederic Cecil Tay-Natey Ofuatey-Kodjoe, the Austrian-born actor spent the first 20 years of his life in Germany. His father is from Ghana and his mother is of German Jewish heritage.
“It took a lot of effort for me to be able to fool people into thinking I’m from here,” Kodjoe, 47, revealed. “Learning the language was hard enough and speaking it without an accent, but then to understand the culture that is very specific to African Americans, that was really the hardest part for me. It continues to be, actually.”
Boris Kodjoe onstage at the 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 05, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)
Kodjoe came to the United States on a tennis scholarship, graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He went on to a career as a model and then actor.
He and actress Nicole Ari Parker have been married since 2005 and have two teenage children, daughter Sophie and son, Nicolas. The couple met on the set of the TV show Soul Food, when Kodjoe played her romantic interest.
Kodjoe says that his experience as a Black kid growing up in Germany came with its challenges.
“Me growing up with my brother, we were the only Black kids in our community,” the actor says. “We were bullied every day, called names every day, because it’s just inherent, especially in kids, that anything that is different or foreign is a threat. So instead of being curious, kids usually are quick to ostracize you…so we went through that a lot.”
Still, the actor believes that growing up in Germany is a fundamental part of who he is.
He tells Watson, “it’s definitely a big part of who I am, how I also approach things in my life, and how I raise my children. Tradition, culture are very important to me.” He confesses, “I want them to understand how important it is to connect with their roots.”
You can watch The Carlos Watson Show here, and be on the lookout for Kodjoe’s episode, airing on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
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