Despite landing a role alongside the likes of Denzel Washington in “The Great Debaters” or his phenomenal performance in “The Secret Life of Bees,” Nate Parker says the availability of quality acting roles for people of color are scarce.
In the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter, Parker expressed his frustration with auditioning for roles throughout the years that lacked a deeper dimension.
“So few of them had integrity,” he said. “As a black man, you leave auditions not hoping you get the job but wondering how you explain it to your family if you do.”
Parker stars in the upcoming film “Birth of a Nation” where he portrays rebellious slave Nat Turner in a role he wrote, produced and directed himself. His comments reflect the ongoing conversation about diversity in Hollywood and the recognition of people of color at award shows like the Oscars. Critics claim that black stars are rarely recognized by the Academy and when they are, it is, overwhelmingly, for portraying stereotypical roles like those of maids, crooks or slaves.
Actor David Oyelowo echoed a similar sentiment last year during a panel at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
“Historically, and this is truly my feeling, generally speaking we as black people have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings, or being in the center or our own narrative driving it forward,” he said.
Last year, in a promotional video clip for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Parker explained his hopes for setting his film apart from D.W. Griffith’s 1915 movie “The Birth of a Nation.”
“I kind of sold this project to investors and cast on legacy,” he said. “I honestly think this is a film that could start a conversation that can promote healing and systemic change in our country. There’s so many things that are happening right now in 2015 — 100 years after the original ‘Birth of a Nation’ film, here we are. I’d say that is what I hope sets my film apart, is that it’s relevant now — that people will talk about this film with the specific intention of change.”David Oyelowo, Denzel Washington, Nate Parker