Film and TV producer Will Packer and his wife Heather Packer opened up their Atlanta home for an intimate screening of Nate Parker’s award-winning film, The Birth of a Nation. The couple was joined by a hand-picked group of celebrity guests for an evening of smiles, laughter, and a unforgettable history lesson.
Filing the family room and the backyard that Will and Heather wed in just last year, were Big Boi of Outkast, Ludacris, LeToya Luckett, Michael Ealy, Naturi Naughton, Chaka Zulu, Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker, Rob Hardy, Ambassador Andrew Young, and many more.
As the stars helped themselves to the shelves of candy jars that took over the back wall and bags of popcorn being distributed, Packer and his wife introduced the film after a brief moment of silence for the recently slain victims in Orlando, Florida.
“There’s a misconception that stories like the one you are about to see have been told so much, over and over again, and that there’s a saturation about movies of this kind,” said Packer. “That actually is not the case. There are a lot of stories that haven’t been told yet.”
Nate Parker’s screen adaptation of the life of Nat Turner—a Virginia preacher who rebelled against his master in 1831—is riveting and inspiring.
“When he says birth of a nation, that’s the suffering and sacrifice of blood of which we’ve come,” Ambassador Andrew Young said of the movie after the screening. “The struggle has to continue.”
Rapper and actor Ludacris also shared his feelings on the film. “We have to know our history in order to know where we’re going, and that’s the general consensus,” he said.
“I absolutely, positively did not know he was a preacher,” added rapper Big Boi. “He was a man of God, first, and just to see his transformation to what he became…it’s just mind blowing.”
Michael Ealy was nearly in tears following the screening. “They had no idea what good looked like for Black folks; we at least know that now,” he said. “To fight back, you almost look at that now like ‘Yeah, I would’ve done the same thing,’ but you probably wouldn’t have. You would’ve been a part of the status quo, and that’s why people like Nat Turner’s story needs to be told.”
Host Will Packer was most moved by Turner’s life as a preacher. “He was a man of God; he was a Christian; he was a preacher. He was powerful. He had a powerful voice, and he used it to uplift the people at a time where nobody was uplifted. He was a singular voice uplifting at a time where no one was.”
On a lighter note, the super producer, who was the force behind the Roots remake, is now working on a film about a group of women traveling to none other than ESSENCE Festival.
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