Just as his star was beginning to rise, Nate Parker informed his agent he wouldn’t be accepting any more roles until he could play Nat Turner. And while actors regularly make outlandish demands, Parker was serious about his ultimatum.

“I was willing to stick to that — and if it was my lot to never act again, so be it,” he explained in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter. 

Parker became obsessed with Turner’s powerful story in college because, “There was such a shortage of heroism in respect to the history that [he] was taught” in school. However, the Beyond the Lights star was dismayed when he learned “one of the greatest men to walk the soil in this country was a man who grew up and lived and breathed and fought less than 100 miles from where [he] grew up,” and yet he hadn’t heard about him until he took African-American studies classes in university.

After learning about the revolutionary, Parker spent years working on a script about Turner’s life and how he led one of the largest slave rebellions in history. Once he became determined to make the film, Parker invested $100,000 of his own money to hire a production designer and scout for locations before seeking funding from others.

Soon, former NBA player Michael Finley and San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker came on board to fund the project, and then Jason Michael Berman of Mandalay Pictures and producer Kevin Turen of Phantom Four gathered even more investors. Finally, Aaron L. Gilbert of Bron Studios contributed the remaining amount, bringing the total to $10 million.

Parker–who wrote, directed, and starred in Birth of a Nationspent 27 days shooting the emotionally charged film, which will premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival this year.

Though the film is set in the 1800s, with the Black Lives Matter movement in full swing, the subject matter couldn’t be more timely.

“Resistance lives in the air in this current moment,” Parker explain.  “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.”

We absolutely can’t wait to see it!

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  • EbonyLolita

    I was very excited when I heard he was taken on this project. See this is a prime example of putting your money & talents where your mouth is. So you’re gonna tell me the Smiths/Perry/Winfrey couldn’t have aided him in funding this? LOL This is why the fight against classism & white oppression should be concurrent. We need more storytellers willing to risk their place at the END of the table of White favoritism in order to uphold the memory of our ancestors who fought against White Imperialism. I’ll be supporting this film.

  • Chazz A

    I’ve had it with slave-themed movies including Dejango, but I’m looking forward to this film. I commend Mr Parker for his perseverance and standing by his demands to bring this project to life. The time for us to tell our own story is long overdue.

    • lynn1066

      Me too (tired of slave movies). But I’ll make an exception for this one!

    • lis

      Tired of slave themed movies?….how so?…..There is a movie about the Holocaust damn near every year and that was only a few years…but an institution that went on for hundreds of years get a FEW movies made about it and it affected your ancestors and you all are tired of them?…well I WANNA SEE ALL OF THEM!….Every year!###…..bring them on……..NEVER TIRED! .

    • AlwaysBlossom

      that’s because it’s only told from one angle. You never see it in its totality.

    • Mr Good Taste

      Slavery is always the BACKDROP of such films. NEVER the THEME! But you’d have to be a person who looks BEYOND the surface of matters to SEE that.

    • Chazz A

      You’re splitting hairs, what’s your point?

    • Mr Good Taste

      The point IS: the film is NOT about slavery. NONE of the films in which slavery appears is ABOUT slavery. The themes are FAR more UNIVERSAL in scope, but you’d HAVE to be a person whose thought process EXCEEDS that of a CHILD who only believes what is APPARENT to the eye. I challenge you to ALWAYS look BEYOND the surface to where the heart of EVERY matter lies.

    • Chazz A

      I’m well aware that this film is not based on slavery, so that part of your POINT is VOID! As far as the other SLAVE-THEMED films of late, I stand by my initial statement.
      You need to expand your thought process and not be so naive as to what Hollywood is really doing BEHIND the scenes. That is, unless you enjoy whitewashed versions of OUR stories.

    • Mr Good Taste

      I NEVER complain about ANYTHING I’m not ACTIVELY working toward CHANGING. I STRONGLY suggest YOU do the same. If you don’t like the films being made about “OUR stories,” FINANCE the project YOU want to see!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Chazz A

      No need for the back and forth. I’ve stated my position on this topic and thats where I STAND! I’ll agree to disagree and move on.

  • Kat Vieux

    He didn’t risk anything. He’s a Z list actor that has made homophobic remarks and gang raped a girl when he was a student at Penn state. I wish a better human being was in charge of this project

    • Mary Burrell

      Dang, not the D list but the Z list lol.

    • yoda

      Dang! I didn’t know all that.