‘Chicago P.D.’ Adds Nicole Ari Parker For a New Kind of Story

The times are changing and Chicago P.D., like all police dramas, is going to have to keep up. For the upcoming season, a new character will be tasked with keeping Sgt. Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) and his team in line. Deputy Superintendent Samantha Miller, portrayed by Nicole Ari Parker, comes to Chicagoland from Atlanta for Season 8.

Nicole Ari Parker slightly smiling in front of a blurred background
Nicole Ari Parker | Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Nicole Ari Parker’s acting history

Parker, 50, grew up in Baltimore. At 17, she won the state’s high school theater Best Actress competition. She joined The Washington Ballet Company and later earned her acting degree from New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, according to Biography.

She appeared in the films Boogie NightsBlue Streak, and Remember the Titans before turning to the smaller screen. Her break there came with the Showtime show Soul Food in the early 2000s. She portrayed Teri Joseph, the eldest of three sisters. Her romantic interest on the show, Damon, was portrayed by Boris Kodjoe, who later became her real-life husband. The two starred in their own show, Second Time Around, on UPN from 2004-2005.

Most recently, Parker has been seen as Giselle Barker on the prime-time soap opera, Empire. Her role, first developed in Season 4, moved from recurring to series regular alongside actors Jussie Smollett, Terrance Howard, Taraji Henson, Bryshere Gray, and Trai Byers. With Smollett being fired, following his indictment for six counts of making false police reports of being a victim of a hate crime assault in 2019, the show went on through Season 6, it’s last season without him, according to The Washington Post.

Parker’s personal life

RELATED: ‘Chicago P.D.’: Fans Worry About How the Show Will Handle Police Brutality

Parker was married to and divorced from actor Joseph Falasca in 2001, according to IMDb. She married Soul Food and Second Time Around co-star, Kodjoe in May 2005. They have two children.

Their daughter, now 15, was born with spina bifida. Subsequently, Parker and Kodjoe started Sophie’s Voice, named after their daughter. According to the foundation’s website, They founded Sophie’s Voice Foundation (SVF) to further research that may offer viable solutions for better healthcare for children and adults living with spina bifida, to promote its prevention and to improve the quality of life for those living with spina bifida.” In 2019, the foundation name was changed to the Kodjoe Family Foundation.

What Parker’s role brings to ‘Chicago P.D.’

Cop shows have a long history of “roughing up perps,” said Darnell Hunt to Variety. Hunt, the Dean of Social Sciences and professor of sociology and African American Studies at UCLA, further said, “CBS, has CSI and NCIS, NBC has Law & Order and Chicago P.D. All those crime shows that have repeated over the years tend to skew older, tend to skew whiter.”

Chicago P.D. is trying to catch up with the times. Roughing perps up needs to diminish along with racial profiling, and Deputy Superintendent Miller is being brought in to help. She is “a progressive, ardent proponent of police reform,” as her character description describes, according to TV Line. “She wants to help Voight and intelligence adapt to the new reality, but will not tolerate breaches of the new police guidelines and protocols.”

It is going to take some work. Voight is known for doing what it takes to get people to talk, despite encouraging his officers to not follow his example. 

We expect Chicago P.D. and other cop shows to go on well into the future. Some are the most-watched shows on TV. Chicago P.D., along with sister shows Chicago Fire and Chicago Med, was renewed by NBC for three years, following the season finale of Season 7. Next season is scheduled to premiere on Wednesday, Nov. 11 in its 10 p.m. timeslot following Chicago Fire