“The Birth Of A Nation” actor and director Nate Parker is lashing out at the media over the coverage of his 1999 rape scandal.
News of Parker’s 1999 accusation and acquittal surfaced over the summer ahead of the release of his historical drama “The Birth Of A Nation”. Now, in a new interview with Steve Harvey, Parker is voicing his criticism of the media’s coverage of his past.
Parker tells Harvey he has been “watching the ticker of headlines, salacious headlines, asking myself, ‘What are these journalists trying to do? Do they care about anyone involved? Do they care about what we’ve been talking about?’ I think it’s been a tragedy on so many levels.”
The film has become embroiled in controversy ahead of its October 7 release. Premiering to a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, the film centres on the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner (played by Parker).
In an appearance on “The Steve Harvey Show” on Wednesday, Parker tells the TV host, “I’ve had to ask myself, ‘These headlines, are we in the business of headlines or are we in the business of healing?’ Because I’m trying to do the work. I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this space that I’m walking through as an artist who was falsely accused, vindicated [in the] judicial system.”
Parker and “The Birth Of A Nation” co-writer Jean Celestin were both accused of raping a fellow student at Penn State University. Parker was later acquitted while Celestin was convicted, but later had his charge overturned. News surfaced over the summer that the alleged victim committed suicide in 2012. Parker has expressed his sorrow over her death but has refused to apologize to the victim’s family as he continues to face questions from the media about his actions and the consequences from the rape charge.
Parker tells Harvey he is trying create a learning experience from the media frenzy and begin meaningful discussions about sexual assault.
“I can get upset with the media and be mad or I can say, ‘What can come out of this and be productive?'” he says. “One thing the media did by this thing resurfacing, in my opinion, we need to talk about something that is epidemic in America, that no one’s talking about. And if my film or if this moment has to be something that puts our eyes or the spotlight on it, then so be it.”