Nicole Ari Parker had a lot to take on when joining Chicago P.D. as Deputy Superintendent Samantha Miller. The face of police reform on the hit NBC show, Parker told Essence Wednesday that playing Miller required a lot of thought on her part, especially amid the discussions about race and police brutality happening today. "I was nervous because I’m a civilian so I’m on the marching side of things, the politically motivated side of things," she explained.
In order to do her character justice, Parker told the outlet she first had to "respect the ladder" that Miller would have had to climb in real life before mastering "the physics of being a cop, the jargon, and the urgency" that many of the situations on the show required. "I really know, from my perspective, what cops face on a daily basis and the split decisions that they have to make in the moment — split-second decisions," she continued. "The cops that are on the street — there is an adrenaline there and I feel like Chicago P.D. really captures that in the writing and I just think it’s really great to be a part of something that is very realistic."
Parker previously revealed that first-hand experience in a tribute to law enforcement officers on social media. "I grew up in Baltimore & have seen 1st hand a brave female officer de-escalate a situation in the face of danger...without taking the life of a child, teenager or unarmed person," she wrote alongside a photo of herself in uniform.
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Entering the show in Wednesday's episode of Chicago P.D., titled "Unforgiven," Parker's character will have to reconcile her conscience as she defends the legacy of a murdered officer until an investigation is complete. She'll go head-to-head with Sgt. Hank Voight, as the two don't exactly feel the same way about the situation, casting a light on their different perspectives on police work as they attempt to see that justice is served.
Parker told TV Line Tuesday, "There’s a level of humanity that is going to be part of the solution." In order to open Voight's eyes, she explained "he's got to see the humanity in the people that he’s policing." On Miller's side, she needs to recognize Voight's humanity as well. "It’s hard when you think you’re right to make space for both of those cases," she explained. Chicago P.D. airs Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 10 p.m. on NBC.