Promoting Black-Owned Businesses Is A Sweet Spot for ‘A Snowy Day in Oakland’ Star Nicole Ari Parker
Nicole Ari Parker may be known for her many memorable roles, including her most recent ones in The Best Man: The Final Chapters, And Just Like That, as well as Chicago P.D., but indie film is what got the NYU Tisch School of the Arts alum here. And she hasn’t forgotten those roots, which is why she plays therapist Dr. LaTrice Monroe in director/writer Kim Bass’s A Snowy Day in Oakland.
Described as “magical-realism comedy,” A Snowy Day in Oakland, the debut film release from the independent PoC (People of Culture) Studios, explores many pressing themes of community, including Black-owned businesses, relationships, and mental health. Parker is a therapist who opens an office in the neighborhood. While the longtime residents view her as an outsider, the truth is that community is also her home. Going through a breakup and trying to find her purpose in life has brought her back and she is committed to the community, even as gentrification threatens to destroy it.
“One of the great things that I take from seeing the finished product is that she goes back into her community,” shares Parker via Zoom. That communal love is also reflected in the characters her many well-known co-stars play. Kimberly Elise and Deon Cole are Theona and Davis, a hairdresser and barber who share a shop together though they are divorced. Loretta Devine is the mailwoman Jeanette who knows everyone’s business; Evan Ross is struggling artist Rodney and Michael Jai White is Rev. Carter who is also a former NFL player. The treasure that is Marla Gibbs even has a memorable role as consummate community woman Mrs. Keys.
Like many Black professionals who set up shop in the community, Parker’s Dr. Monroe isn’t immediately welcomed. Instead of dismissing or ignoring the community’s reservations, however, Dr. Monroe, shares Parker, “just stayed the course.”
Bass’s approach to that touchy gray area was refreshing to The Soul Food star. “Usually that person, that woman, spends a lot of time in the script justifying herself,” she explains. While “there is a lot in [the film about] how we treat each other that needs healing, there is [also] enough in there to know that there was a judgement of my character but that I was…