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Exclusive: Nicole Ari Parker Speaks On ‘Empire’ And Women In The Workplace

Over the summer, it was revealed that Nicole Ari Parker‘s character “Giselle Barker” would be returning to the fifth season of Empire as a series regular after appearing in just five episodes the season before. Bossip got an opportunity to not only sit down with Nicole for a special pre-screening of last night’s episode of Empire, but we got to speak to her about her character and how Giselle’s life mimics that of other women today.

On the show, Giselle is married to Eddie Barker (Forest Whitaker) a wealthy who betrayed the Lyons to take over the Empire record label. However, he dies and Giselle finds herself not only betrayed by him but betrayed by the company’s new CEO.

When asked if women find themselves working hard to become betrayed in the workplace like Giselle, Nicole says:

“I think [my role as Giselle] is a direct reflection of what goes on. Let’s just say, in the medical profession, if you’re in the hospital, the nurses know more about what’s going on and how to care for you than the doctors do in a lot of instances.

I was a secretary when I was coming up in New York. I was a receptionist for a mob boss’ garment manufacturer. I ran his whole life. He was an older guy but I ran his whole life. I knew everything. If I wasn’t going to stay on track to be an actress, I could’ve been running the company. We know how to do so much and we excel at it when we’re focused and we have to really prove ourselves.

In some ways that’s great because when we win, we’re unstoppable. You know, we’re unshakable. But unfortunately, it’s exhausting. I see it in every industry. I’m glad that Empire is tackling some of those things. They’re sneaking it in inside of the fun and the drama.”


Nicole Ari Parker says the parallel makes her emotional because it’s something her sister is going through right now.


“My sister just went through this. She worked her butt off and she got passed up for a position. There was no reason why she shouldn’t have had that position.. It’s heartbreaking. It’s like, does my sister want to play second fiddle, does she want to stay where she is or does she want to fight next year for it again, that’s where Giselle is, she’s weighing all the pros and cons. But she’s still on track. She’s still ‘I don’t want to lose, Eddie left me with nothing.’ She has other people to care about too.”


You can catch Empire Wednesdays at 8/7C on FOX.


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