Parker, who has co-hosted “Nightly Pop” on E! alongside Morgan Stewart and Hunter March for over 200 episodes, told In The Know’s Gibson Johns during a recent interview that being a Black woman in media has put her up against “an extreme amount of challenges” that her white counterparts haven’t had to deal with, including being reduced to regressive stereotypes.
“When you’re an opinionated Black woman, you feel an extreme amount of challenges, and there were times where I would be on a set debating an issue with a white counterpart and people would be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, she’s so aggressive,'” Parker recalled. “And it’s like, ‘We’re debating, and they’re saying the same thing!’ And so there was a lot of projection, I feel like, onto me. I feel like a lot of women in general feel like, if they’re opinionated, they are labeled something. But, you know, when you’re also a Black woman, I feel like there is that double label onto you.”
“Especially when entertainment news was more one thing — where it was just, you know, glitz and glamour and it was really just very monotone — it wasn’t a lot of opinions and views, people really had a hard time accepting me being so opinionated, because it was just the way I am,” she went on. “I would feel like I definitely lost out on some opportunities. But, ultimately, losing out on those opportunities led me where I’m at right now, and so I try not to look at those negatives as rejection. I looked at them as protection. It just wasn’t the space I was meant to be in.”
For Parker, who came up as producer before becoming an on-air host for various outlets, it wasn’t worth the sacrifice to start presenting herself differently just to fit the mold that others wanted to impose on her. In realizing that about herself, she was also able to recognize that there was an audience out there that would appreciate her for who she really is.
“Instead of sinking into it and feeling like I have to be something else, I decided that I just wasn’t going to be for everybody and who I was going to be for would get the message. I wasn’t going to try to change who I was to appeal to people who were committed to misunderstanding me,” Parker explained. “For many, many years, I felt like my opinion in the entertainment space wasn’t necessarily valued. And so, now, to feel like people are warming up to me or valuing my opinion is incredibly flattering. I feel like we’ve made so many strides, and so I really appreciate that.”
You don’t have to look far for evidence of that: In addition to her skyrocketing prevalence in a variety of E! programming in recent years, Parker was also one of the names heavily thrown around on social media when the #ReplaceEllen hashtag recently went viral as backlash mounted against Ellen DeGeneres.
While it was obvious that DeGeneres wasn’t actually going to be replaced, being part of that conversation was certainly validating for Parker.
“I knew her show was not going to go anywhere. So, to me, it was all in good fun,” she said of the moment, which involved so many social media notifications that her phone literally died. “But, you know, to have people who want to see me have my whole platform is extremely flattering.”
One reason for the strong bond that Parker has cultivated with “Nightly Pop” viewers is her willingness to speak her mind on everything, including topics that go well beyond the scope of Hollywood and the world of celebrity. In June, when George Floyd’s murder sparked protests and overdue conversations about race, Parker embraced the opportunity to use her platform to air out her thoughts.
And, perhaps because of that, Parker was chosen to moderate a high-profile conversation about race for sister network, Bravo, called “Race in America: A Movement Not a Moment.”
“I’ve done specials with major networks before. Obviously, this was really the first thing that I had done rooted around race relations, which before, most of it had been news or entertainment news, but nothing, you know, as just really intricate as how race is affecting Black people in America,” she said of working on the special. “They saw a lot of my coverage that I had done with me expressing how I felt, and they felt like I would be the perfect person to navigate that conversation. I was familiar with a lot of the talent over at Bravo just over the years, and so I think it just kind of was a great fusion of everything at the same time.”
Listen to our full interview with Nina Parker below, and tune into “Nightly Pop” on E!, weeknights at 11:30 Pm EST:
If you enjoyed this article, check out our recent interview with “Real Housewives of Potomac” star Monique Samuels here.
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