As Hollywood struggles to diversify its cinematic slate, Nate Parker is speaking out on the lacking roles for Black men.
In the newest issue of the Hollywood Reporter, the Beyond the Lights actor said that too often, roles made specifically for Black men lack “integrity.”
“As a Black man, you leave auditions not hoping you get the job, but wondering how you explain it to your family if you do,” he said.
It was for this reason that Parker tirelessly pursued his passion project. After learning about Nat Turner, the slave who led an 1831 Virginia rebellion, in college, Parker made it his mission to bring his story to the big screen (after filming wrapped on Beyond the Lights, Parker told his agent that he wouldn’t work again unless he was able to play Turner).
However, he was met with resistance on all fronts, with many filmmakers telling him that the movie wouldn’t do well: It was too violent, too expensive and too controversial. Parker didn’t let that stop him, and his persistence paid off—he wrote, directed, produced and starred in his project, Birth of a Nation, which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival this week.
“Resistance lives in the air in this current moment,” he said. “Anyone who sees this film should leave the theater and feel compelled to be a change factor with respect to relations that are taking place in this country. But also, they should be proud to be an American. This country was built on rebellion. So when we talk about American heroes, people that fought against an oppressive force, I think that it’s a no-brainer that Nat Turner exists in that conversation.”