Actor-filmmaker has been at the center of controversy over 1999 rape trial
Birth of a Nation filmmaker and actor Nate Parker is scheduled to make his first television appearance since details about his 1999 rape case resurfaced and embroiled him in controversy.
Parker will appear in a 60 Minutes segment with Anderson Cooper this Sunday, five days before Birth of a Nation opens in theaters, a source tells EW.
Previously regarded as awards-season frontrunners, Parker and his film — which centers on the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in 1831 — have been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks, as news reports have delved into the filmmaker’s past and raised questions about whether it’s possible to separate art from its artist.
In 1999, Parker and Penn State roommate Jean Celestin (who has a story credit on Birth of a Nation) were charged with raping a fellow student while she was unconscious after a night of drinking. Parker was acquitted; Celestin was convicted, but the verdict was later overturned because he received an ineffective defense. Celestin did not receive a new trial.
Parker and Celestin’s case had been covered by local news media, and transcripts of the trial are public record, but the episode received wider attention in the months leading up to to the release of Birth of a Nation.
When first asked about the case by Variety in August, Parker said, “Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life. It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is — I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”
The story has not gone away, however, and Variety subsequently reported that Parker’s accuser took her own life in 2012. Although he expressed “profound sorrow” at her death, Parker has continued to face questions and criticisms regarding his past actions and his response to the present controversy.
Parker’s 60 Minutes appearance was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.