Nate Parker has become a household name since he produced, directed and stared in the Birth of A Nation. The Birth of a Nation has changed the conversation in the United States about slavery and race and the role Blacks played in the birth of America, as the nation known today. It is a biographical film about Nat Turner, the Black slave who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831 against White supremacy.
Nate Parker, who often underlines the inspiration from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in
a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly,” has himself experienced how justice and injustice, for the matter, can fundamentally affect people's lives: the victims, the accused, as well as the guilty. Injustly accused of rape, he was proven innocent in the court of justice. But the effects of this event still lingers in his life. This shows in interviews, when a mention of the tragic suicide of the victim, years after the verdict, still provokes visibly deep felt emotions and tears that Nate Parker, though still firm about his innocence, could not control.
Nate Parker, a graduate from Penn State University and the University of Oklahoma was born in Norfolk, Virginia to a 17-year-old single mother. He had a tough childhood. His biological father died when he was 11 and he was raised by his mother's relatives. He joined a wresting team in high school and secured a scholarship to Penn State University as a wrestler and then to the University of Oklahoma where he graduated with a Management Science and Information Systems degree.
Before The Birh of a Nation, Nate Parker was usually associated with his role in the the "Great Debaters," in which he played alongside Denzel Washington and Forrest Whittaker. But he played in several other movies, such as Red Tails, portraying the Black Tuskegee Airmen who played a major role in defeating the Nazis in World War II but were soon forgotten or subject of racial prejudices, after they returned to America. He also played a role in Blood Done My Name .
With the highly acclaimed, though controversial, "The Birth of a Nation" , Nate Parker established himself as a major filmmaker. He
and his friend Jean Celestin made this memorable epic about Nat Turner's inspirational life that may, in a way, epitomize struggles that many African-American boys go through to overcome a system crushing them.
Nate Parker, with the help of his Penn State University friend, Jean Celestin, wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the movie as Nat Turner. Nate Parker wrote the screenplay and sought investors to fund the film. He was able to secure a budget of US $10 million. The movie was filmed in Georgia in May 2015 and released in theaters across the US over Summer 2016.
The Man with A Mission
However, Nate Parker views the film as bigger, much bigger, than himself. He had a mission to educate with a story about a man, who served as an example for his peers. The movie helped him accomplish that mission. But, according to Nate Parker, his vision extends beyond the movie and current times.
He credits his focus to his renewed christian faith.