Filming for the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That ..., is in full swing, with photos emerging of the cast on set in New York City. But there has been one key star missing: Kim Cattrall, who will not resume her role as Samantha Jones.
In an attempt to fill that void, Nicole Ari Parker, 50, has been cast as documentary-maker Lisa Todd Wexley – reportedly a new member of the famous friendship group, made up of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda Hobbs (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte York (Kristin Davis).
Who is Nicole Ari Parker?
Parker will be familiar to fans of Empire. She played the role of Giselle in the hip-hop drama series opposite Terrence Howard, Taraji P Henson and Jussie Smollett from 2017 until 2020.
Her first major role was in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights in 1997. She has since gone on to star in Blue Streak (1999) and Remember the Titans (2000).
Parker has been married to Austrian-born American actor and model Boris Kodjoe, 48, since 2005. Both Parker and Kodjoe starred in the early 2000s series Soul Food. The couple has two children, daughter Sophie, 16, and son Nicolas, 14.
Nicole Ari Parker with husband Boris Kodjoe:
Race and 'Sex and the City'
If Parker's character is to become a firm member of the friendship group of four, as speculated, she will be the first non-white series regular in the Sex and the City franchise.
In 2018, Chelsea Fairless, the co-founder of Instagram account Every Outfit on Sex & the City, described the show as "as white as it gets".
The show has been called out for its numerous racial insensitivities, including Samantha wearing an afro wig after undergoing chemotherapy and Carrie’s “ghetto gold”.
“They didn’t ever have a person of colour as a series regular,” Fairless says.
“I’m white and I wasn’t educated or a particularly good ally at that point in my life. I did take issue with their handling of certain queer issues back in the 1990s, because that is my community … But I’m not about to protest the show on those grounds; I’ll just make fun of it on Instagram instead.”
In 2018, Parker acknowledged that "there were no women of colour [in Sex and the City]", but maintained that there would be more representation if the show was made today.
This was rebutted by Twitter user Veronica McDonald, who wrote: "No, it wouldn't. Sarah Jessica needs to stop lying.
"I can't see any of the SATC characters befriending or associating with women of colour except Miranda. Does Sarah Jessica Parker befriend and associate with women of colour in her personal life? If not, why would Carrie Bradshaw?"
Potentially ahead of the curve, McDonald concluded her Twitter thread with: "My [conspiracy] theory is that Sarah Jessica Parker is saying all of this 'SATC would be more diverse in 2018' business is because SJP is flirting with the idea of killing / writing off the Samantha character since Kim Cattrall won't come back & replacing Samantha with a WOC [woman of colour]."
Where is Kim Cattrall's character Samantha Jones?
The And Just Like That ... storyline is a closely guarded secret. It's not yet clear how Samantha's absence is explained, however, the cast has been spotted on the streets of Manhattan in funeral attire, leading to speculation that the character has died.
Cattrall has made it clear that her time playing Samantha is over, having stepped into her shoes for all six of the seasons and the two Sex and the City movies.
“I went past the finish line playing Samantha Jones because I loved Sex and the City,” she said in a 2019 Guardian interview.
“It was a blessing in so many ways but after the second movie I’d had enough. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just replace me with another actress instead of wasting time bullying. No means no.”