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When you think of Boris Kodjoe, your mind may go to blockbusters such as Brown Sugar, Soul Food, Love & Basketball or even Madea’s Family Reunion. Today, the star is using his platform for the greater good of the Black community during COVID-19.
#HelpOurHeroes is a new mask initiative that donates to healthcare personnel and frontline heroes during their time of need amidst the pandemic. Spearheaded by the actor, the initiative has donated over $500,000 toward masks for first responders in collaboration with GymWrap, which is founded by Kodjoe’s wife, actress Nicole Ari Parker. Having never been a stranger to philanthropy, he is also the founder of The Kodjoe Family Foundation.
REVOLT spoke with Kodjoe about #HelpOurHeroes, the importance of supporting frontline workers during the pandemic, and his platform as an actor coming with a responsibility to speak up for the Black community. Check out the convo below!
Tell us about your new mask initiative #HelpOurHeroes and what sparked it?
In the midst of the PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage, my wife suggested we manufacture masks to send to our essential workers and front-liners who are putting their own safety and health at risk every single day for us.
How have you seen #HelpOurHeroes expand since you first started it?
We are so grateful that people everywhere have responded and supported the initiative in such great numbers, which has enabled us to give away over half a million dollars’ worth of free masks so far.
What are your thoughts on the possibility of your children returning to school in the fall considering that COVID-19 isn’t under control?
Classrooms are a vital part of our children’s development in terms of learning and social engagement. To take that away from children is devastating, especially when going to school covers meals and childcare for millions of households with working parents. Online schooling is not always an option for children with working parents, many even without appropriate access to devices and the internet.
What do you think schools should do to prioritize the health of children who return to school?
The government must offer resources for school districts, especially in socio-economic challenged areas. It is their responsibility to test comprehensively and provide a safe environment for children to learn. Other countries do it successfully. It is up to us as a country to set this standard.
How do you believe we can do a better job of supporting those on the frontlines?
We have to stop politicizing masks and be accountable for doing our part individually to keep one another safe. In doing this, we continue to support the frontline workers.
How do you find the time to manage your mental health while being a support system for your wife and kids during this time?
Finding time for myself allows me to rejuvenate and be there for my family. My outlets are meditation and exercise. It keeps me grounded and lets me expend some energy.
How important is it for you and Nicole to have that balance of speaking up against racial injustice together, while dialing it back and being a loving couple?
Being connected to my wife is my absolute priority, and I love protecting that intimacy and nurturing it. And having conversations with our children about social justice, equality, and the movement is an important aspect of teaching them to be an active part of the solution.
How are you using your platform as a well-respected Black actor to continuously raise awareness on social justice and equality?
My platform comes with a responsibility to use my voice and support my community. I always want to advocate for positive change.
You’ve been very vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement and you went to Ghana with Nicole before the pandemic hit. How did your trip impact you and how do you hope to change the narrative about Africa?
Traveling to Africa allows you to reconnect with your ancestry and find out where you came from. It also gives you a much better perspective on the beauty, diversity, and the economic development potential that makes Africa the continent of some of the fastest growing economies in the world.