*Actor, producer and former model Boris Kodjoe stopped by Casa Carlos for a revealing interview on the latest episode of The Carlos Watson Show. The following are some of the best cuts from the full conversation, which you can find on the show’s podcast feed. (You can also WATCH it via the YouTube player above.)
Carlos Watson: Hey, Boris, you made it hard today. I work with a wonderful woman named Monica, who was so excited when she saw your name, she said, “Yum,” and I said, “Monica, you haven’t said ‘yum’ before when my name came up,” so compliments to you.
Boris Kodjoe: She needs to be yumming all day when she works with you.
Watson: I love that. Where did you grow up? You grew up overseas, right?
Kodjoe: Yeah. Heidelberg is about an hour north of where I’m from. I’m right by the Swiss border all the way in the south, southwest France. So I’m in the corner of France, Switzerland and Germany. I’m right there.
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Watson: Interesting. It was very funny, literally in the minute you went from American to German to French. I heard a little Tony Parker in your voice for about two seconds, and then you came back. Do you speak French as well or just German?
Kodjoe: Yeah. Well, obviously, German is easy and then French was my second and then English and Spanish.
Watson: And then your pop is from Ghana? Is that right?
Kodjoe: Yeah. He’s from Ghana. West Africa.
Watson: I like to say Ghanaians are certifiably the nicest people in the world. Australians, Colombians, Brazilians are runner-ups, but I think Ghanaians are the nicest people in the world.
Kodjoe: Ghanaians actually are known for their hospitality. Like when you go to Accra, it’s like you’re at home. The food, to the people, to the music and obviously all the historic sites that are there.
We’ve been producing this event called a Full Circle Festival for the past three years and bringing people over to Ghana and reconnecting with the ancestry and visiting all the sites and all that. And it’s changed people’s lives and how they think of Africa. Because we’ve been told so many lies about the continent and to sort of course-correct and redefine that narrative is important.
Kodjoe: Oh yeah, we went there for vacation in the summer to see my family, my grandmother and all my cousins and aunts and uncles. I took a little break then — my parents split up and then I went back as a teenager and then consistently throughout my adult life. I wanted my kids to see it, so I took them very early in their lives and they’ve been going back almost every year. So we made it a point to make sure they know where their roots lie, whether it’s Germany or Ghana. We’ve been to Germany every year since they were born. I think it’s important.
But the first, initial perception that people have of me is that I’m from here, D.C., East Coast, whatever. It took a lot of effort for me to be able to do that, to be able to fool people into thinking that I’m from here, which was probably the harder part, compared to learning the language.
Learning the language was hard enough and speaking it without an accent, but then to understand the culture and the physical communication that is very specific to African Americans, that was really the hardest part for me. It continues to be actually because I’m very African and German.
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