Nate Parker is the winner of our 2nd annual Theodore Parker Prize, presented by Darren Walker (President of the Ford Foundation, and 2015 Honoree)
Actor, director, producer, writer and humanitarian Nate Parker recently won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for The Birth of a Nation, a 7-year labor of love for Parker which he wrote, directed, produced and starred in to rousing acclaim and fanfare at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Following its debut, the film received an enthusiastic standing ovation and was quickly acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures, which will release the film this year. Set in the antebellum south, The Birth of a Nation follows Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities – against himself and his fellow slaves – Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.
Parker first received critical attention in 2007 for his role in The Great Debaters opposite Denzel Washington (who also directed the film) and Forest Whitaker. Washington hand-picked Parker to play the troubled yet brilliant, ‘Henry Lowe,’ who overcomes his selfish ways and becomes the team’s leader. Parker received an honorary Doctorate from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, the school on which the true story The Great Debaters was based. For his role in the film, Parker received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Hot off the success of Debaters, Parker starred opposite Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys in director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Secret Life of Bees, for which he also received a Best Supporting Actor NAACP Image Award nomination. Last year, Parker re-teamed with Prince-Bythewood for the critically acclaimed Beyond the Lights, opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Danny Glover. Parker received his third NAACP Image Award nomination for his performance. Parker has been nominated for five Black Reel Awards, winning for Outstanding Independent Short for #AmeriCan in 2014.
In 2012, Parker was the toast of the Sundance Film Festival. He received widespread critical acclaim for his performance in Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage opposite Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon, as well as the Spike Lee- directed Red Hook Summer. Later that year, Parker starred in Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails, alongside by Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr. It told the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first African-American military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps and were some of the finest pilots in World War II. George Lucas funded produced the feature.
Additionally, Parker appeared in Sunu Gonera’s family drama Pride alongside Terrence Howard, Chris Fisher’s cop thriller Dirty opposite Cuba Gooding Jr., Ric Waugh’s crime drama Felon with Stephen Dorff and Sam Shepard, and Uwe Boll’s war drama 1968 Tunnel Rats with Michael Pare. In 2013, Parker starred in David Lowery’s Sundance sensation Ain’t Them Bodies Saints opposite Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster.
On stage, Parker appeared opposite Dustin Hoffman, Annette Bening, Rosario Dawson and James Cromwell in “American Voices” at the Broad Street Theater.
Nate currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and children.
Twitter – @nateparker
Instagram – @origi_nate