Since making a splash ten years ago in the hit Showtime series 'Soul Food,' Boris Kodjoe has made a conscious effort to shake his sex symbol status and be taken seriously as an actor.
Though the 37 year-old German-born hunk still has his fair share of magazine covers, including this month's issues of Essence and Men's Fitness, respectively, with his new star role on NBC's new 'Undercovers' he's hoping that people are finally recognizing his talent as an actor.
"It's flattering, but its nothing I can take credit for," he explained to BlackVoices.com during a break in shooting this week.
"Over the past few years, it's been more of a hindrance in that I had to really work ten times as hard to establish myself and prove to people that I'm more than that," he continued. "Sometimes, I think the sex symbol thing is overshadowing the fact that I've worked my butt off. I can't worry about how people perceive me."
Kodjoe said being on Broadway in the Debbie Allen-directed 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' boosted his credibility, adding that it was "an important stepping stone in that direction."
His new role as Steven Bloom, a former spy who comes out of retirement to solve a case, has been the perfect challenge for the former fashion model.
In addition to performing all of his own stunts, he gets to try out action, comedy, drama and a bit of romance -- something he said "keeps it exciting every day."
"Steven Bloom is probably closer to me as a person than a lot of the other characters I've played. He's a very worldly person, an athlete, he wasn't as far-fetched as other characters I played," Kodjoe said.
The father of two, who is married to his 'Soul Food' co-star Nicole Ari Parker, also revealed that 'Lost' creator J. J. Abrams did not seek out a black couple to play the shows leads.
"It was cast colorblind, it just happened to work out that way."
"J.J. just told me I was the guy for the part and that was really refreshing and traditionally that's not the case in TV and film," he added. "The world is multicultural and diverse but it hasn't been [shown that way on TV and film] in the past but it definitely is an important show because it shows that's what the world looks like."
And, although there's been speculation about whether 'Undercovers' can make it through the fall television season without finding itself on the chopping block, like the recently cancelled ABC show 'My Generation' and FOX's 'Lone Star,' Kodjoe isn't worried.
"I can't consume myself with the ratings because I'm not in control of it," he said. "We have a great show and we have to build our audience with a show that doesn't have an instant following like a 'CSI' sequel or' Law & Order' sequel."
"The network loves the show so hopefully they are going to give us a shot," he shared. "Our [debut] numbers at 9 million viewers [were] absolutely something to be proud of."
When he's not trapping the bad guy on the small screen, he's busy promoting his custom-made, yet reasonably priced clothing line, Alfa. And, he's very into being a father and husband.
"My wife and my kids are the most important thing for me in life," he beamed. "As long as I'm true to my family that is where my happiness and joy lies in life. Everything else will fall into place automatically," he shared.
'Undercovers' airs Wednesdays at 8 pm. on NBC.