Actor Spotlight: Nate Parker


As we are all aware from either advertisements, social media post, or people talking amongst themselves The Birth of A Nation came to movie theaters on Friday, October 7th, 2016. The movie is a “must see” for anyone who believes in freedom and justice.

Nate Parker is an American actor, director, producer, writer, musical performer, and star/co-writer of the film, The Birth of All Nation. Parker was born in Norfolk, Virginia to Carolyn Whitfield, a 17-year-old single mother. Parker’s father died when he was eleven from cancer. His mother’s first husband gave Parker his surname along with his four younger sisters. At the age of 14, after problems at home with his stepfather, Parker moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia to live with his maternal uncle, Jay Combs. Throughout Parker’s life he moved to several different high schools, but he eventually graduated from Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Virginia where he was well known as the best wrestler there.  After graduation he attended Penn State University on a wrestling scholarship in 1999. After a rape allegation, he later transferred to and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2002 where he was on the wrestling team and received a degree in Management Science and Information Systems.

After many years of wrestling Parker gained interest in acting. Los Angeles talent manager, Jon Simmons, noticed Parker, had him audition, and then encouraged him to move to Los Angeles where he gradually found work as an actor. In 2006, Parker played the male lead in Rome & Jewel, a hip-hop take on Romeo and Juliet that got mothballed and re-released in 2008. In 2007, he had a small role in Pride which was a film about an African American swim team. In 2007, Parker played the role of Henry Lowe in the Denzel Washington directed film, The Great Debaters upon which he was nominated for a 2008 NAACP Image Award.

In 2010 Parker starred in the film Blood Done Sign My Name, which was based on a true story of small town racial turmoil set in a backdrop of belated segregation in 1970. In 2013, he had a supporting role in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints which was a film about a bar owner who is among an enticing array of characters. Parker’s next memorable role came as the lead in The Birth of A Nation, a 2016 American period drama film based on the story of Nat Turner, the enslaved man who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831.

In August 2007, Parker married Sarah DiSanto, a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, whom he met while they were attending Penn State. The couple have four daughters in addition to another daughter Parker had from a previous relationship.