The Nate Parker Interview: What’s Next for ‘The Birth of a Nation’

Nate Parker Rape Case Interview Variety
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Two weeks ago, Nate Parker was a different man — on the verge of making it on Hollywood’s A-list with his American period drama “The Birth of a Nation.” He strolled into a restaurant in Sherman Oaks, Calif., with his 6-year-old daughter in tow. “My wife just had a baby, so I’m taking the burden off her,” he told Variety about his fatherly duties. He talked about how his oldest of five daughters is gearing up for her freshman year in college, and how he recently surprised her with a visit to New York to see “Hamilton.” And he seemed most proud of the legacy he was leaving for his children as the director, star, producer and writer of “The Birth of a Nation,” the Sundance Film Festival darling about the slave revolt of 1831 led by Nat Turner, which sold for a record-shattering $17.5 million to Fox Searchlight.

But since then, all hell has broken loose. Parker spoke in this interview for the first time in years about a dark incident from his past that’s come to define him. In 1999, as an undergraduate at Penn State University, he and his roommate Jean Celestin (the co-writer of “The Birth of a Nation”) were charged with raping an 18-year-old student. Although Parker was acquitted in a 2001 trial, details from the case generated a media firestorm, and the blogosphere turned on him with calls to boycott “The Birth of a Nation.” The situation heightened when Variety uncovered that the victim had committed suicide at 30 in 2012, a development that caught Fox Searchlight and Parker off guard. (Both declined requests for a follow-up interview.)


Nate Parker Paralympic wrestling movie

Nate Parker Pens Response to New Details of College Rape Case: ‘I Am Filled With Profound Sorrow’

Now, some potential ticket buyers have already sworn off his movie months before its October debut in theaters. “You collaborated on a rape 17 years ago, and now you pull him in to make this film together,” says Kamilah Willingham, 30, one of the campus-assault survivors featured in the documentary “The Hunting Ground.” “I’m trying to picture a way this could turn out in which the film can still be celebrated. I can’t.”

Parker is still scheduled to appear at the Toronto Film Festival, but a source in communication with him says that he’s in a low place. He vacillates between thinking the case is resurfacing now after 17 years because of a Hollywood conspiracy against him or just bad luck. He’s disappointed over the backlash on social media and that the African-American online community hasn’t been more supportive. And he’s even mad at himself, for underestimating the public’s interest in a court case that happened so long ago.

“Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life,” Parker told Variety over a two-hour conversation. “It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is, I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”

It’s not clear what Parker’s path forward is from here. He will have to navigate difficult waters, given that his statements about the film, as well as the movie itself (especially a fictional rape scene involving key characters), will be viewed under a different lens. “I say if you have injustice, this is your movie,” Parker said about “The Birth of a Nation,” a line that could be met with raised eyebrows. He wanted to use the movie to inspire a movement — he even recorded a PSA to run before the film — to talk about the wounds that slavery inflicted on generations of U.S. citizens. “Americans suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome from a time that we refuse to address,” Parker said. “Healing only comes from honest confrontation. Any psychologist will tell you that.”

““The reality is, I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”

At Sundance, Parker said that Celestin was the first person he ever told about his idea for “The Birth of a Nation.” But before Variety asked him about the trial, he tried to downplay his old roommate’s role in the film, despite a credit for Celestin as the story’s co-writer. “I wrote the screenplay by myself,” Parker said, adding that no one helped him on the first of 40 drafts he’s worked on since 2007. When pressed about Celestin’s contributions, Parker said obliquely: “I just did a lot of research. I hired a lot of people. I had researchers. I had all kinds of people. I just wanted people to feel whole.”

“The Birth of a Nation” was supposed to finally end two years of #OscarsSoWhite, but the movie might cause further ripples within the Motion Picture Academy. Some prominent members of black Hollywood are standing with Parker, but they haven’t backed him publicly yet. “I don’t like the timing of this,” says one well-known black director, who asked not to be named. “I’m not defending his actions, but something is wrong about the way it went down.” Another black director who knows Parker, but also requested anonymity, said: “It worries me that a film and a guy with so much promise gets cut down a month before his masterpiece gets released. The last two years have proven how much our stories matter to this industry, and this seems like a way to muffle a very important piece of work.”

Here’s how Parker talked about “The Birth of a Nation” in his own words.

How did you get the idea to use the name from D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” for your title?

It was called “The Birth of a Nation” before I even put in the paper. I never went to film school. I was very insecure approaching the idea of directing a feature film. I told myself I would not move until I felt I was moving in power rather than moving in desperation to make a movie. When you ask anyone, “What is the greatest achievement in cinematic history?,” they are unfortunately going to point to Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation,” a film that is rife in so much racism, smothered in so much blood, yet has a perfect score on so many platforms that represent film critique. I thought: “Wow. What if I took this and put a spotlight on it. I tied a rope to it, and lead a rope to a new film that could best represent the growth we had since that film?” So I decided to take on Griffith and Woodrow Wilson, who screened the film in the White House.

When did you start writing it?
I would say 2007. It was around the release of “The Great Debaters.” I finished my first draft relatively quickly — maybe a year. Some people gave very fearful notes. I remember meeting a director I really respect. He said, “I like the script, but I don’t love it. One thing that would make me love it — you need more good white people.” Well, I’m not making a script about good black people and bad white people. I’m making a script about systematic oppression.

Did you write the part of Nat Turner for yourself?
I always wrote it for myself. I didn’t always know I was going to direct.

Who else did you offer it to?
I wanted Denzel [Washington]. It would have been his project period. But I had a big list of demands. You don’t give a director demands! And I sat with Ryan Coogler and David Lowery. It was more about me getting advice. If they said, “I will do it,” I would have given it to them. Then I started toying with the idea of directing it. I became obsessed with it.

Did you get advice from other directors too?

I reached out to Edward Zwick. We went through, frame by frame, “Defiance” and “Glory” — the battle scenes. He was like, “This is what I did, and what I would have done differently.” It was an education few people get. I also reached out to Mel Gibson. Maybe three months later, I get a phone call — “Nate, it’s Mel.” “Mel who?” I took maybe 30 pages of notes. His best advice was don’t work on Sunday. He said: “You need a day off if you’re going to direct yourself. I did this for seven months on ‘Braveheart.’ You need time for recovery and reflection — just sitting, drinking tea.” That’s exactly what I did. On Sunday, I would go into a dark room and drink tea.

How did you first hear about Nat Turner?

He became my hero in college. I never heard about him until I went to college. I was not a good writer yet. I wrote a number of scripts. Some were OK. Some were not very good at all.

What were they about?

They were all over the place. My very first script was about a spray-painting crew during the transition in the ’70s when gangs were about graffiti and dancing and then became about criminal activity. I wrote a script about two female police officers. I got the idea, because I lived in this shabby, humble apartment complex. I remember driving home one day. These two women were detaining a car full of men. Two women that were smaller than my wife. I was instantly terrified for them.

Did you write the role of Turner for yourself because there weren’t enough good roles for you in Hollywood?

I felt that there was a massive vacuum. I do believe as a person of color, the disparities are great. A lot of the roles that were sent to me were “Gangbanger No. 1.” And when a role did come up that I felt carried and represented my community in the best ways, I wasn’t the only one that knew it existed. So I’d have to compete.

What’s a role you really wanted that you didn’t get?
“Friday Night Lights.” I and every single black man on Earth seemed to audition for it. It went to my close friend Derek Luke. In this town, as a man of color, you don’t have material. That’s not because of a lack of talent. I do believe it is a lack of cultivation. It is a lack of courage on the part of many in power, because it is a business. There are models that suggest there is a risk associated with aligning young men and women of color with a bigger budget, more high-profile opportunities.

After you finished the script, did you ever take “The Birth of a Nation” to a studio?
I didn’t. As the script got better, I was with a big agency. I was told that a studio is not going to make this film. It’s a period film. It’s a drama. It’s an African-American lead. It’s dealing with American injury. And most films about people of color don’t sell foreign. This is what I was told to my face.

The film’s budget is around $8 million. How many investors did you end up getting?
Maybe 20. It was a lot, from all over. [NBA players] Tony Parker and Michael Finley put in money. I had an orthopedic surgeon put in money. The smallest amount given was $75,000.

How hard was it to raise that money?

It was about getting people to buy in from the standpoint of legacy. I would sit down with the money people — “Hey, you have money. Your kids know that. But when it’s all said and done, and they are pointing to that oil painting, what are they going to be able to say?” That got me far. I spent all my own money. I put in $100,000. I started a production company. I was at church, praying with my pastor. I considered getting a job because I had gone broke. It got to the point where I almost got a job at Wal-Mart. I could work the night shift. But rather than going and taking a TV show, I felt I had to stay on this path. The darkest part of the journey is when things start to come together. I was the guy trying to do this noble thing. It wasn’t like I was trying to do a Marvel film.

What was the worst day in getting the film ready?

On Thanksgiving before we had it made, I lost $3 million [from an investor]. I’m in my bedroom, getting this call, as my family is in the living room, giving thanks. I cried. I was devastated. I remember my mother rubbing my back. It was the only time in the whole process I began to doubt. I began to think I bit off a little more than I can chew.

How has “The Birth of a Nation” changed since Sundance?

I probably cut 20 seconds. I’m a perfectionist to a fault. I could hardly watch the movie at Sundance. Even until the credits rolled, I knew the imperfections that were thorns in my side.

Why did you turn down the offer from Netflix? 
I had such respect for Ted [Sarandos]. But to be honest, you were in the theater. I wanted it to be what the film wanted it to be. It was like a rhythmic wave of emotion that would not stop. You could feel it hitting the people — I just wanted that for the world. We’re talking about global change. You don’t choose who you sit next to in a theater. You sit in a theater and there’s an energy that happens.

Are you going to continue to act or direct?

I want to do both. I have a five-year plan. I’m closing on a couple things. Let’s just say that I plan to act next, direct, prep myself, direct again, and then act for a while. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. I’m a planner.

What makes “Birth of a Nation” so timely now?
What I think we’re ready for is an unapologetic conversation about race, that’s what this film encompasses. Just by virtue of being ready for the conversation, I think we’re ready for Nat Turner. One of the things I’m asking people at every screening, I made a video go in front of the theater: “When you watch this film — go have a conversation with someone.”

For you, this movie is more than just a movie.
I don’t want this to be a film. I want it to be a movement. I don’t want it to be a moment in time. I want a launch pad for conversation around how we can deal with our trauma collectively. Then we can create a cultural shift.

How will that happen?
One word: healing.

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  1. Lisa says:

    Some of the higher up didn’t want some of the truths to be exposed with this film that’s why Nat Parker was sabotaged with this allegations that he was acquitted of which means he was found not guilty smh white america got rules Nat Turner upset Master.

  2. Xami says:

    It will be interesting observing just how college educated white women will maintain too victim status while their henchpeople turn in them.

  3. Joe says:

    Okay Nate Parker was acquitted but you believe he was guilty or at least you think he did something he ought not had done, so when do he get to live his life free of your moral judgements as you now live yours?

    Judging seems to be very selective, women might vilify a man for a sexual crime against a woman no matter the time span but she want vilify a man if he assaults another man, depending on the time span.

    Judging others is always personal as well as hypocritical, because it ignores one’s own faults and fake self-righteousness; and never shows mercy, which is the cornerstone of a righteous person.
    Throughout our lives we all do or say things that we later regret and we try to learn from our mistakes and move on. Life you see is not static and no one stays the same. But the self-righteous won’t allow for change, they will always see you as if change in you never occurred.

    Jesus appreciated that people change and acknowledge that those who knew when you were one way are reluctant to accept that you change when he said “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”

    Meaning that it is the people who knew you when or think they know you now who will never permit you to change, they will hound you to the grave and they will smear your name and reputation until you fall by the weight of it all, and only then will they feel that justice has been served!

    But you do have honor and you do deserve respect and to be treated with dignity, and no one has the right to deny you this because it is part of our rights that comes not from man but from God Himself. Therefore, he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.

    And if anyone owes anyone an apology it is to this man because he has gone on to do himself proud while you fake concern for someone you never knew or heard anything about until the possibility of an Oscar winning black movie was publicized.

  4. Robin says:

    Maybe the “bad timing” has more to do with the fact that women are sick and tired of people looking the other way while rapists and child molesters are celebrated in Hollywood.

    And his interview regarding the incident was very badly handled. He basically refuses to acknowledge to this day that he raped an unconscious woman and then harassed her all over campus because she had the nerve to report it. You can’t be forgiven for what you won’t even acknowledge.


  6. CoCo says:

    So this “source” close to him…hates him? Doesn’t think Nate Parker on his own is capable of screwing things up for himself and making himself come across as utterly self-serving and unlikeable? Demonstrably untrue! Nate is perfectly capable.

  7. Renee says:

    I was thinking someone could be attacking him because, indeed, that does happen in Hollywood. Then I read his quote about not “reliving 17 years ago” and “all I can do is be the best man I can be today.” That’s basically a confession of guilt to me. It is the absolute wrong thing to say, and goes to show something did happen. He basically saying ‘it happened, for the most part I was kind of wrong, I get it, I get it, I live differently now (like I don’t rape chicks),’ so let’s move on… NO. He’s not saying it didn’t happened. He’s saying I did something wrong, but I’m different now. Again, NO.

  8. Ben says:

    Nate Parker: “A lot of the roles that were sent to me were “Gangbanger No. 1.””…Funny, I guess people knew he was the top choice for that part ;-)

  9. Robert diva says:

    Funny,how the justice system set George Zimmerman free and I don’t remember blacks saying that was a just one.

  10. Birth says:

    Nate looks so sad on the picture….Don’t you see how sorry he is ? He’s so sorry. Now, please, forgive him. Then buy two tickets for “Birth of a Nation” and give him 3 Academy Awards. Only then Nate will be happy again.

  11. stevenkovacs says:

    Boycott TIFF for not cancelling their planned parties for Nate Parker and his film Gala. They are typical star struck and it will take negative responses from the public to stimulate conversation in TIFF’s ivory tower. A protest is being held too at the Gala. This will end up an embarrassment for an otherwise very sensitive and progressive Toronto society.

    • Xami says:

      I respect the fact that they aren’t being shamed by these harpies. Get used to it, people are waking up to the utter bigotry of third wave feminism.

  12. Jamall says:

    Interesting that his college hero was a religious zealot whose visions moved him to lead a massacre of mostly unarmed women and children with the consequences being exponentially more laws/penalties/killings against slaves.

    And now he’s using the God excuse to defend his own actions of gang rape after he uses the same fictional trope in his film to justify the massacre. When it was the result of one madman and his mad visions. You don’t have to answer to God Nate. You have to answer to this girl’s family. Do the time and America will forgive you.

  13. WandaSes says:

    “A lot of the roles that were sent to me were “Gangbanger No. 1.” ” Is this guy seriously that stupid??? This is so offensive it’s not even funny.

    “And most films about people of color don’t sell foreign. This is what I was told to my face.”
    Is he trying to make us believe this is a racist statement? It’s a fact. Look how “the Butler” did stateside vs internationally. And that’s with a known cast. He is a nobody, especially internationally. Foreign audiences don’t care about American history and they don’t care as much about stories of color. You can’t play the racist card when studio execs are just crunching numbers and stating the facts.

    He needs to stop playing the race card because it’s hurting directors/actor of color with real talent. The #Oscarssowhite campaign turned every hack out there into potential awards bait while the real diverse talent suffers. Sit down gang rapist. No one is fooled by your phony tactics. You have not grown up from the self-entitled sexist jock rapist that had no disregard for a girl’s life or the fallout from your own behaviour. Alcohol does not give consent. And until you learn that America will never trust you or your fake campaigning to “heal the past.” Give me a break.

  14. Billj says:

    “Healing only comes from honest confrontation.” wow. This stuff can’t write itself. This guy’s self-righteousness is infuriating. No one owes you anything. You owe a young girl a life you took.

    And there is no Hollywood conspiracy. Is everyone forgetting what picture won the oscars 2 years ago? Yes last year was whitewashed, but the year before that showed an incredible range of diverse talents. We need to celebrate voices like those and not diversity just for the sake of diversity. Many people anyways have said this is a TV film. Oscars are always about politics so let’s go back to awarding good films and this was clearly just a ploy to appeal to diversity challenges.

    Anyways I will not support a rapist with my money and that goes for the others as well.

  15. karena2525 says:

    I enjoyed the article. I also found the comments interesting. I am constantly intrigued by the choices our society makes about who to forgive and who to punish. The most relatable example in this scenario is Mike Tyson. Tyson was not only convicted, but served three years in jail for rape in 1992. He has additional history of assault and anger issues. Yet he has a career and is celebrated by many, including people like Dwayne (Rock) Johnson. Parker was involved with a rape 18 years ago and though he has apparently (who knows but him) lived his life straight since then, is vilified. Gibson, mentioned in the article, experienced primarily two periods of verbal failure years ago. No issues since then and since a long period in AA. But his career was so derailed even this article felt it necessary to mentioned it before reporting that he helped another blossoming director. Meanwhile, others with more serious crimes live painlessly in life.
    I’m not debating whether any of these or others are truly innocent or truly guilty. Im just so amazed by the inconsistency in our societal jury decisions. As the man said, “I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”
    If there is a change for the better – people should be allowed to move on.

  16. Jane D says:

    Nate Parker is going to have to walk back 70 percent of his self-righteous messianic comments like:

    – I want a launch pad for conversation around how we can deal with our trauma collectively. Then we can create a cultural shift. BUT NOT RAPE OR CONSENT OR THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN REGARDS TO CONVICTIONS OF RAPE OR TITLE IX

    – You don’t choose who you sit next to in a theater. OR WHO YOU HAVE SEX WITH APPARENTLY –

    -A lot of the roles that were sent to me were “Gangbanger No. 1. – OH, THE IRONY – LIFE IMITATING ART – NATE PARKER WAS AND FOREVER WILL BE GANGBANGER #1 #NateRape


    The hypocrisy with this man is so thick – He is the one with mental issues.

  17. Jane D says:

    As far a social justice issues in Hollywood “race trumps gender.” Oscars voters will feel guilty by January. The elites will round the wagon. Fox Search Light will continue to hire Sharpton to drum up the ‘curious timing.’ Black women will be guilted to support their own race…

    Michele Satter and the Sundance Institute will choose a movie with rape at the center directed by a woman to show — back by and develop by the Sundance Institute — to show the world they DO care about gender and rape survivors — if they haven’t already…

    The cowardly Black prominent director — why not go on the record?

  18. Rebecca says:

    Anyone that questions why people are still upset. It is really simple, 10% of the population have been sexually assaulted (one in five woman). That is a large group of people that are aware and have experience sexual assault as victims. To get a better idea of the volume of assault victims, the black population in america is currently 13%. Nate Parker has insulted and dismissed a massive population, not smart, people will now view him from their own negative experience

  19. loco73 says:

    Shhhh!!!!!! Don’t call him a rapist! Because in today’s messed up world…that would be racist!!!

    Mel Gibson’s career, maybe rightly so, was flushed down the toilette, following his alcohol and drugs fuelled rant, but this parasite…oh…he is is hero…because he made a movie about slavery in today’s still oh soo white Hollywood!!!

    Racism doesn’t preclude anybody from being a racist by virtue of their skin, culture, religion or sexual orientation. If you want to know who has the monopoly on racism, self-righteous indignation and entitlement just because, I suggest to Nate Parker et al., to take a good long look in the mirror…if he can withstand the stench of hypocrisy wafting off of him…and others

  20. GKN says:

    Guess I’m alone, but I’d still like to see this movie. It’s a fabulous subject. And it is strange that someone sicked the lynch mob on him just beforehand, who as usual, know everything, though nowhere near the incident.

    Just mention the R word anymore, though acquitted or not even charged like Woody Allen, and everyone projects their own traumas onto perfect strangers.

  21. Catadromy says:

    It’s not whether he and Celestin did or did not rape that woman (fwiw, I believe that they did); it’s the campaign of harassment and intimidation they engaged in after the trial that led her to drop out of Penn State. And not just them, they involved others in it, too. Not hearsay, she sued Penn State and collected a judgement from the school.

    Parker can make all the pious noises he wants to about how he’s a family man, found God or whatever. He’s a rapist, he’s a friend and collaborator with a rapist and an all-around pig of a human being.

    No matter how good of a film maker he is, no matter how righteous his subject matter–he’s still a disgusting waste of skin. He’s irredeemable.

  22. Jack says:

    Oh Beth, thanks for play by play, worthy of a Penn State Football highlight. You’re the duck!!! Not to mention the actions of your screen crush: slave impersonator – turned messenger healer – deplorable.

    Parker, please drop more names about your masterpiece, so I can write them off too. You are a punk and always will be. You can’t hide behind God and your family. Hope Black Lives Matter drops you fast!!!

  23. Beth says:

    If Nate Parker is a rapist then so are many of you men, your male friends and family who attended college and had a drunk Friday night hookup. Regular students who were aware of this in Penn State at the time knows that this “victim” and other organizations behind her also harassed him. Her family is smart to let him take all the blame because in speaking, too much of their own dirt and mental illness will come to light. Sorry but if you decide to give a 19 year old boy a blowjob you barely know; get drunk in a bar all by yourself; wait 2 hours past the time to meet him (how desperate); leave with him, continue to drink and be affectionate; get in a car, head to his apartment with him and two unknown males……what reason did he have to think that she had no intentions of sleeping with him? Involving his friends is very disrespectful and gross and that part is a bit extra, not to mention if you do like a guy, like she admitted to liking him, that will be the ultimate disrespectful slap in the face. This “victim” also went drinking again the following night (yuck)…….A disrespectful 19 year old jerk does not deserve to be called a “rapist” for life and sorry my fellow women but if you walk like a duck, quake like a duck and do all the things ducks around you are doing: wake up the next morning and be pissed that you drank yourself into a fu@king duck. Poor judgement does not equate “rapist”. Ever stop to wonder why this girl went to foster care at age 15 (not 5)? What her sister meant by her starting over at Penn State? Point is people know nothing of her past, her family history but blame him for her death 12 years later….

    • Kt. says:

      “what reason did he have to think”
      “drank yourself into a fu@king duck”
      “Poor judgement”

      These are why we have to teach our boys, men, and Beth BETTER.
      Not woke. Deep slumber, sleep-walking and talking gate-keepers and practitioners of Rape Culture.
      1 – Women are human beings. Men do not THINK on their behalf, whether women want to have sex, when or how. Men got to ASK, and get a resounding “YES”. NOT hearing “No” is not an “yes”.
      2 – Someone who is impaired by alcohol, needs help staying safe. Women AND men. (Do you Beth, think drunk men deserve to be raped, when they can’t defend themselves? )
      3 – Do the crime, pay the time.
      “Poor” to you, “heinous, inhumane, exploitative, dehumanizing” to folks who can see a protectionism at work jointly, by a school system and a generation of jurors all grew up in a Rape Culture. In whose permissive environment, it’s only women’s fault and constant alert to stay vigilant of Freely Raping Men, men whose birthright is to take whatever they want, whenever. That’s perpetuating a grievous ATROCITY against women – who’ve had to fight for the right to vote, birth control, family planning, equal pay, traditionally male-dominant fields with strong exclusivist cultures, rampant sexual harassment in workplace, and extremely rapist-friendly law and justice system.

    • Mick says:

      I find it hard to believe all the ladies posting in here with their girl-only names are really supporting this guy.

      Beth your attempt to blacken the reputation of this woman who is no longer there to defend herself, is repulsive as is your vulgarity.

    • Cass says:

      Harassed him really. That’s rich considering he was the one who got the support of teachers, administrators, athletes and testimonials from Penn State personnel and she got what. Yeah I am waiting to hear about all the support she got. None. No protection from the university from harassment. And with campus rapes being a sensitive issue, this victim blaming ish is out of place. Penn State offered her a small settlement but it was under the condition that rules and the process would be changed to protect the victims. You say sharing her was “creepy” no not creepy criminal. He’s lucky he wasn’t charged as an accomplice to the second rape which they could have easily charged him with. So spare me the poor mantra for a star athlete being protected by the university known for protecting sexual predators. Her family is smart? They didn’t ask for this to resurface, Parker did by trying to control the narrative. If some people don’t like the fact that court documents and transcripts are readily available online now for all of us to read, too bad. Even if what he did was not legally wrong it was morally wrong and no amount of your victim blaming is going to change how a lot of people feel about that. And he has ZERO right telling ANYONE about PTSD and how we need to face our own sins of our past, when he is incapable of recognizing what he did or condoned. His including a FICTIONAL RAPE as the catalyst to his protagonists rebellion in his film is just another layer of ugliness.

  24. Horace Hardy says:

    Mr. Parker put the entire horrible incident behind you. While It’s unfortunate, it is what it is. When I was age 15 ( more than one-half century ago) and still in high school, I was sent to a reformatory for 18-months because of questionable–yet illegal- activities that I was accused of doing I felt devastated but was determined to graduate high school upon my release. I received help from someone who believed in me….my minister. In fact. it was through him that I was able to realize my enrollment in college. Nevertheless, stuff happens, no matter how unfortunate. God forgives you, as well as, your mother, and your family and friends. Like you, I I did not know of Nat Turner until I went to college. At that time, northern schools did not teach Black history. I did not learn about Black history I attended a school in the South. After all, this was during the era of Segregation. Somewhat of a Renaissance for Blacks. I definitely feel your pain, young man–eventhough I am several years your senior. However, I also applaud your perserverance and efforts. Both of which I applaud. Continued success. As the saying goes, “Keep on, keeping on”! Horace Hardy

  25. AllWiledUp says:

    The only conspiracy was Fox Searchlight trying to get the rape discussions out of the way before awards season. Parker’s interviews, unfortunately, didn’t show a man who deeply regretted his actions, but a guy who was still the entitled college jock (and at Penn State no less!) who thought he was above all that.

    As for people who say: “he was acquitted so he’s not guilty”, I’ve got two words to add: George Zimmerman.

    • Lisa says:

      Oh, so if you believe George Zimmerman who everyone agrees killed an unarmed kid who was just walking home should not have been found innocent, then Nate Parker is automatically guilty too? Does that mean that every single person that’s ever been accused of a crime and found not guilty is actually guilty too?

      What’s the point of trials? Why don’t we just assume if you are accused then you did it? Would save the tax payer money. (Then again, if you were ever accused of a crime, I’m sure you will feel differently. Maybe we should wait until then.

      • AllWiledUp says:

        Keep spinning. You forget about the third man who refused to take part in the rape and testified against them. It wasn’t “she said, THEY said..” Third guy knew what happened.

        Strange to see a woman, Lisa, defending gang rapists.

  26. JFL says:

    This story has stuck with me. When you read what Mr. Parker and his co-writer/story credit/co-attacker did 17 years ago, I don’t know how you can want to see them standing on a stage celebrating anything. What pains me here is that Mr. Parker wants people to see him being acquitted as some grand statement of innocence, yet the man he used as a co-writer on this film was initially convicted of attacking an incapacitated, inebriated and defenseless woman and while that attack happened, Mr. Parker was standing there naked witnessing and participating in it. His co-writer Celestin got off on a technicality after being initially convicted. Read The Daily Beast accounts of this for the truth, not the Fox Searchlight spin. Read how these men harassed this woman after the attack. Read how she had 7 drinks on top of a Prozac which would knock out a 300lb man that night she supposedly gave consent. Read how when she vomited in his apartment after the attack, Mr. Parker made her clean it up. Read how he offered her to a 3rd man that night who ran away from this awful scene and later testified against him and his co-writer. He began writing this script in 2007? So Mr. Celestin was still in his life 8 years after the attack they committed together? Where’s that follow up question? This guy is trash. I don’t care if he’s the love child of Scorcese, Tarantino and Spike Lee and his film will melt hearts and change the world. I don’t want to see his movie and I don’t want to see him in anything on a screen. His negatives far outweigh his positives.

  27. Chizz says:

    So black filmmakers are wondering why Parker is being taken to task now?

    It’s because this is 2016, and people are no longer tolerating sexual abuse, victim-shaming, and priviledge like back in 1999. And when a rich filmmaker says he wants to have an honest dialogue and a movement about serious topics, and it turns out he’s an abuser who hids behind priviledge and legal technicalities and cannot fathom the hypocrisy he is presenting to the world, he faces the wrath he brought on himself.

    And if a white filmmaker got upset because more white people weren’t supporting him against similar charges, what would happen then?

  28. MickyTC says:

    Mathematically speaking, if the rape case was in 1999 and his oldest daughter is about to be a freshman in college, would that not make her born around the time of the rape? Which means at the time of the rape, when he was allegedly (and most likely) harassing his victim, he was also making babies?

    • Jane D says:

      Yes, he was quite active. His now wife was his girlfriend at the time when he rode train on Jane Doe, is the mother of his four daughters. Yet Parker is stated to have 5 daughters…so where the baby mama of his eldest…

  29. BillinHP says:

    Oh, and one more thing. He’s surprised the on-line African-American community hasn’t been more supportive? Why? He’s a classic hotep and the on-line community hates those people.

  30. BillinHP says:

    Well, it is obvious that Variety wants to help out Nate while still covering the story. Why else re-run this puff piece interview.

    Here’s the problem now. 1. It is two weeks past the first interviews and it is still in the press. In fact there were like 8-10 new articles today. 2. The folks that are coming to Nate’s aid are not the people he wants. Al Sharpton? Rape apologist Cathy Young? 3. It is nice to know some big Hollywood people are standing behind him still. They’re making sure to stand waaaay behind him, though. So far behind that no one can see lest they get linked to Parker. 4. Choosing the title Birth of a Nation was a bold stroke – if you haven’t been involved in a gang rape in the past. 5. And this might be the biggest thing. If you’re been involved in a situation like this in the past, you don’t use gang rape as a plot device. Especially one that has no historical backing. That scene was already a point of contention based on history. Now I don’t even see how Searchlight can leave it in the film. And since it is a key plot point in the film what is left? An African-American who goes into a rage andkills a bunch of white people?

    The fact that Nate still wants to blame outside forces for his demise is a joke. He’s the one who had his formerly convicted gang bang buddy credited as a writing partner. He’s the one who agreed to do some clueless and tone-deaf interviews in order to get out in front of the story. And he’s the one who sexually assaulted a passed out young woman and invited two of his friends to do the same. The fact that he only stayed friends with the one who accepted his invite is also telling. I’m sure he blamed his other friend for telling the truth in court. This is all on Nate and Fox should shut this show down ASAP and wait until next year to release the film. Even if they were able to get their money back in the fall, the divisiveness caused by its release not only kills any awards talk it makes the film toxic.

    • mla28ny says:

      What the fuck are you talking about Gang Rape has no historical backing? Seriously? Dude, let me ask you, do you go to Bryan Singer movies? He also kills a bunch a white people in his movies. You should be mad in addition to his rape allegations.

  31. JUST THE FACTS says:

    So, let’s do a timeline and a recap. 17 years ago was a rape trial. 17-18 years ago he had a child around the time of the rape trial that is now going to college. And recently, he had a child that is 17 years younger than the first child. 5 children total. (Birth control vs. Ego) And he collaborated on a film with the co-defendant in a rape trial 15-17 years after the trial because they’re still close buddies (amazing).

    Confessing guilt is a great path to healing. Try that. And by the way, don’t try playing the victim. The victim is dead. She killed herself.

    • I think the comments are coming from people who hopes the movie don’t drop. Too late, and I’m pretty sure the theaters will be packed now thanks to you’ll. There were a lot of people who didn’t even know this movie was coming until now. I guess what the devil means for evil; God meant for good. I’m pretty sure that he will get plenty of black support!

      • Supporting Nate says:

        I didn’t know anything about the movie but listening to all of the racist comments……I will definitely go see it. John Ramsey rapped his daughter and was never prosecuted. Woody Allen still their hero and married as daughter. GTFOH!!! Yall are born rapist!!!

      • Nola says:

        You keep thinking that.

      • Lisa says:


  32. Kitkat9301 says:

    Both of those men had established careers in Hollywood already. Not justifying it. They are both scum and plenty of people were outraged when Polanski won that Oscar. Many of us refuse to support them. But there is NO conspiracy here. Only a former star athlete from Penn State(you know the school who covered up the worst of the worst sexual predators). Read the details of the case. Parker harassed this woman to the verge of 2 suicide attempts. And he says “Americans suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome from a time that we refuse to address,” Parker said. “Healing only comes from honest confrontation. Any psychologist will tell you that.” Well it seems he needs to see what happened to the woman who he allegedly raped(yeah I think he did I don’t care what the court did). He cant be retried but people can make their voices heard, particularly in a super charged climate where rape is again covered up and pushed aside at our university campus’s. As for justice, Brock Turner got a 6 month sentence for a rape that was witnessed. And you think our judicial system is fair to rape victims and all perpetrators are found guilty? George Zimmerman, OJ Simpson, Casey Anthony were all found not guilty also.

  33. Jimmy Green says:

    Poorly executed TV movie at best.

  34. Robbie says:

    Why is Variety continually supporting this scumbag? Oh yeah, they make lots of money from Fox placing ads in their rag.

  35. LQ says:

    I`d love to know who these prominent members of black Hollywood that are standing with Parker are so I can boycott their movies too.

    • Peggy says:

      Do you boycott Woody Allen, Bryan Singer and Roman Polanski too?

    • Kitkat9301 says:

      I am disappointed in the MSM on this one but the people in the entertainment industry seem tone deaf to the real world. Sure they wag their fingers and oh how horrible those people are who support Trump(who I cannot stand by the way) but when it comes to one of their own being accused of anything the barriers go up. I just can’t with these entertainment publications continuing to give us this “poor Nate Parker” narrative. And word is that Fox and Parker both knew the woman killed herself but I guess they didn’t check the fact that ALL the court docs are online and accessible. Hollywood is TONE DEAF. I will say it again to the goings on in the real world.

    • Kitkat9301 says:

      These people are all completely TONE DEAF to the real world. A sexual encounter Parker still insists was “unambiguously consensual” when no one that drunk can consent. And the directors questioning this let me guess. Black men. With the increased focus on campus rape, are these people really that tone deaf to why people are outraged. Do any of these idiots remember what was uncovered at Penn State just a few years ago and the years of coverup. Clueless people. And conspiracy really? Parker is the one who brought this to the forefront.

  36. Iman English Reader says:

    Why do Woody Allen and Roman Polanski get a pass? Why are people able to accept them as artists and downplay the rape allegations against them? I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t take rape allegations seriously. But this man was acquitted in a court of law, neither of them were. Yet they get a pass and he gets lynched. I wonder why?

    • Robbie says:

      Woody Allen never even got to a court of law, hon. Nor was he ever formally charged with anything. And who says those who don’t support parker do support Polanski? Personally, I think they’re both garbage. As for Allen, marrying Soon-Yi aside, I’m not sure there’s anything else that ever happened. Certainly nothing that had any basis in fact.

      • JUST THE FACTS says:

        It’s not “innocent.” It’s “not guilty” beyond the shadow of a doubt. It couldn’t be proven in a court of law. You know, like Robert Blake murdering his wife. Like O.J. Simpson murdering two people. Like Casey Anthony in the death of her child. An infamous group. You know they did it, but they walked.

      • Iman English Reader says:

        You are making my point exactly. There were rape allegations against all three men. Only one was tried and acquitted. And he is the one who is being vilified, while the other two get a pass. So when you say there was no “basis in fact” for the allegations against Allen, how do you know that? Did a judge and jury look at the evidence and reach that conclusion? No. But in the case of Parker, a judge and jury did find that he was innocent of the crime. Yet he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt.

  37. Mike says:

    He’s disappointed over the backlash on social media and that the African-American online community hasn’t been more supportive. Why would they support him, because he is black? Play the “I have five beautiful kids” line. What a great family guy.
    Is he awake?? Why would anyone want to be associated with a criminal? A Rapist! A fictional rape scene. Really? Fictional? This guy needs to go away.

  38. Ken says:

    I’m seeing “Hidden Figures” instead.

    • Kitkat9301 says:

      Good choice. I can’t say how excited I am about seeing a film CELEBRATING some of the great things women and African American women have done. Yes there are positive role models out there for all of us.

  39. ben says:

    Yeah, it is going to disappear, in a year no one will think of his movie.
    And, can they just stop with the ‘masterpiece’ nonsense.

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