This is a good article. Click here for more information.

Nate Parker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the American actor. For the English actor sometimes known as Nat Parker, see Nathaniel Parker. For the All-American football player sometimes known as Nate Parker, see Nathan Parker.
Nate Parker
Nate Parker 2014.jpg
Born (1979-11-18) November 18, 1979 (age 36)
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Occupation Actor, director, producer, writer
Years active 2004–present
Spouse(s) Sarah DiSanto (m. 2007)

Nate Parker (born November 18, 1979) is an American actor, director, producer, writer and musical performer who has appeared in Beyond the Lights, Red Tails, The Secret Life of Bees, The Great Debaters, Arbitrage, Non-Stop, Felon and Pride.[1] He was an All-American wrestler at both Great Bridge High School and the University of Oklahoma.[2][3] Parker has been active in charitable work, donating his time both as a volunteer wrestling coach and a political activist.[3][4]


Parker was born in Norfolk, Virginia,[5] to Carolyn, a 17-year-old mother at the time.[6] His mother never married his biological father, but did wed the man who gave Parker his last name. Parker has four younger sisters.[7] According to a DNA analysis, some of his ancestry is from the Tikar people of modern-day Cameroon.[8] During Parker's time in middle school, his mother fell in love with Walter Whitfield, who was stationed in Bath, Maine, in the United States Air Force. Although his mother married Whitfield and moved to Maine, Parker, despite the physical distance after the move, remained close to his biological father emotionally.[6] His father died when Parker was eleven, however.[6] Parker became involved in classroom fights and home power struggles with his stepfather, Whitfield. Parker moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia to stay with his maternal uncle, Jay Combs, a former wrestler, at age 14. Nate's great-grandmother got sick and his mother moved back to Hampton Roads, Virginia and lived in the Churchland High School zone, where Nate joined her.[6] Sharing a three-bedroom apartment with four uncles, his mom, aunt, and grandmother,[citation needed] Parker said "we didn't have many material things but we loved each other unconditionally."[9]

Parker was accused of rape while a sophomore at Pennsylvania State University in 1999 and was cleared of those charges in 2001.[6] Parker married Sarah DiSanto—a native of Erie, Pennsylvania whom he met while they were attending Penn State—in Erie's Frontier Park during the summer of 2007.[10][11] He is a University of Oklahoma alumnus.[12]

Athletic career[edit]

Because Parker looked up to Combs, Combs was able to get Parker started in Wrestling at Princess Anne High School.[6] Parker placed third in the Virginia High School League state wrestling championships as a junior while attending Churchland after reuniting with his mother.[6] Carolyn Whitfield moved to the Great Bridge High School district so Parker could participate in its powerhouse wrestling program.[6] He was a member of the 1997–98 state champion Great Bridge wrestling team and was a state champion 135-pound (61 kg) wrestler who placed third in the High School National Wrestling Championships, while becoming a high school All-American.[2][6] He earned a full scholarship to wrestle at Penn State University.[6]

At Penn State, Parker was nationally ranked as a freshman.[13] After transferring he continued to be ranked as a redshirt junior 141-pound (64 kg) wrestler.[14] In 2002, he placed fifth at the National Collegiate Athletic Association wrestling championships and became an All-American at Oklahoma.[6][12] Following his fifth-place finish, he was ranked second nationally as a redshirt senior.[15] In 2003, he earned an undergraduate degree in computer programming from Oklahoma.[6] After graduating from Oklahoma, he worked as a computer programmer until he was noticed at a modeling convention in Dallas, Texas, while accompanying a model friend.[6][12]

Acting career[edit]

Parker's first profession was as a computer programmer, which he described as being "in a cubicle writing code". Then, he attended an event in Dallas with a model he was in a relationship with.[16] Los Angeles talent manager Jon Simmons noticed Parker at the convention and talent search while Parker was waiting for his friend to finish her audition. Simmons felt Parker had "the look" and inquired about whether Parker was an actor or a model. After Parker denied both, he asked Parker to read a monologue from The Fast and The Furious.[17] He then asked Parker to videotape himself doing lines from Antwone Fisher and Parker delivered a video within a week. Simmons told him to move to Los Angeles, California right away. Parker packed his clothes and computer and moved to sleep on another aspiring actor's couch. He quickly landed a part in a television commercial. Bit parts and guest appearances followed. He has been working with acting coach Cary Anderson since arriving in Los Angeles. As of early 2008, Parker continued to live in North Hollywood, California with his wife, mother and three of his sisters in a 650-square-foot (60 m2) one-bedroom apartment.[6]

Parker played the male lead in Rome & Jewel, a hip-hop take on Romeo and Juliet in 2006.[18] He had a smaller role in Pride, about an African American swim team, but one that allowed him to display his athletic physique.[6]

Denzel Washington directed The Great Debaters and selected Parker for the role of Henry Lowe.[19] Parker heard Washington requires biographies of the characters that he directs. He wrote a 100-page biography of the Henry Lowe character.[20][21] To prepare for his role and write a character biography, he read the works of James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, W.B. Yeats, Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes.[20] The character was based on the real-life debater, Henry Heights.[21] Parker's character is the love interest of Jurnee Smollett's character and has a bad-boy streak.[22] Parker also performed on the soundtrack.[1] Parker, and co-stars Forest Whitaker, and Denzel Washington were nominated for the 2008 NAACP Image Awards in the best supporting actor category,[23][24] which Denzel Washington won.[25]

In The Secret Life of Bees he played the love interest of Alicia Keys' character.[26] The movie co-starred Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and Sophie Okonedo and was written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood based on the book of the same name by Sue Monk Kidd.[27]

In 2014 he reunited with his The Secret Life of Bees director Gina Prince-Bythewood playing the male lead in her film Beyond the Lights. His performance was nominated for a Black Reel Award for Best Actor and a Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture.


For years Parker was interested in making a film based on the life of Nat Turner. In 2014 he announced that he had funding and was working on assembling his team, and that the film would be called The Birth of a Nation in an ironic tribute to the famously racist 1915 film of the same name.[28] In addition to writing and directing Parker cast himself as Turner. Aja Naomi King, Armie Hammer and Gabrielle Union were also cast in key roles.[29] Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired the distribution rights to the film for $17.5 million at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, which broke the record for the most paid for a Sundance Film Festival production surpassing Little Miss Sunshine, which had been acquired by Searchlight for $10 million ten years earlier.[30]

Public charity[edit]

Parker aspires to provide scholarships to youth between the ages of 17 and 25 at Wiley College through the 100 Men of Excellence Initiative.[4] He has been a supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America as well as a program called Peace4Kids, which is a program for foster youths and underprivileged youth in South Los Angeles, California where kids are involved in daily activities that stimulate and nurture creativity and intellect. Parker also coaches a wrestling team of 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds at Rosemead High School and he assists in coaching wrestling at Rio Hondo College.[3] Parker was an active supporter of and volunteer for the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign.[31]


Year Title Role Notes
2005 Dirty Duster
2005 Cruel World Techno
2007 Pride Hakim
2007 The Great Debaters Henry Lowe
2008 Felon Officer Collins
2008 Tunnel Rats Private Jim Lidford
2008 Rome & Jewel Rome
2008 The Secret Life of Bees Neil
2010 Blood Done Sign My Name Ben Chavis
2012 Red Tails Capt. Martin "Easy" Julian
2012 Arbitrage Jimmy Grant
2012 Red Hook Summer Box
2013 Ain't Them Bodies Saints Sweeter
2014 About Alex Ben
2014 Beyond the Lights Kaz Nicol
2014 Every Secret Thing Kevin Jones
2014 Non-Stop Zack White
2014 Eden Slim
2016 The Birth of a Nation Nat Turner director, writer and producer
Year Series Role Notes
2004 Cold Case R. J. Holden Season 1, Episode 22: "The Plan"
2005 Kurtlar vadisi Male Model Season 4, Episodes 96 & 97
2006 The Unit Darryl Season 2, Episode 11: "Silver Star"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Category Recipient Outcome Ref.
2008 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture "The Great Debaters" Nominated [32]
2009 "The Secret Life of Bees" Nominated [33]
2012 African-American Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor "Arbitrage" Won [34]
Hamptons International Film Festival Breakthrough Performer Won [35]
2013 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Nominated [36]
Outstanding Actor "Red Tails" Nominated
168 Film Festival Best Actor "Lu" Won [37]
2014 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" Nominated [38]
2015 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture "Beyond the Lights" Nominated [39]
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Actor Nominated [40]
Best Independent Short "#AmeriCan" Won
2016 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic "The Birth of a Nation" Won [41]
Audience Award: Dramatic Won
CinemaCon Breakthrough Director of the Year Won [42]


  1. ^ a b "Nate Parker". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  2. ^ a b "Where It All Began". Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  3. ^ a b c Kent, Alexandyr (2007-12-24). "'The Great Debaters' interviews: Nate Parker Plays Brilliant, Volatile Mind". Shreveport Times. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  4. ^ a b "Nate Parker's Charity Work". Look To The Stars. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  5. ^ "Nate Parker"., Inc. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Tucker, Kyle (2007-12-23). "From Hampton Roads to Hollywood". The Virginian-Pilot online. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  7. ^ "Nate Parker". MovieTome. CNET Networks, Inc. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  8. ^ Nate Parker Ancestry Reveal
  9. ^ Crane, Kelly (2014-11-05). "ADFF: Why Nate Parker is the wing man: The actor talks about working with some of Hollywood's biggest stars". Gulf News. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  10. ^ "Actor with Erie ties to appear on 'Oprah'". 2007-11-24. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  11. ^ "SARAH DISANTO and NATE PARKER Wedding". Wedding Couples Directory. Retrieved 2008-11-08. [dead link]
  12. ^ a b c Robertson, Regina R. (2007). "Nate Parker: Newcomer Hits it Big". Essence. Essence Communications Inc. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  13. ^ "Nittany Lions Begin Four-Match Road Trip With Loss To Illinois". Centre Daily Times. Newsbank. 1999-02-13. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  14. ^ "College Wrestling Outlook - weight-by-weight (with last year's records in parentheses):". The Daily Oklahoman. Newsbank. 2001-11-07. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  15. ^ "Amateur Wrestling News Div. I Individual Rankings". Amateur Wrestling News. USA Wrestling. 2002-11-30. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  16. ^ Murphy, Mekado (2014-04-23). "Tribeca First-Timers: Nate Parker". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-11-05. 
  17. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (2007-12-24). "No argument, his goal is to be a star". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  18. ^ Kehr, Dave (2008-09-05). "November Releases". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  19. ^ Morales, Wilson (2008-05-12). "Nate Parker Talks 'Great Debaters' DVD And Film With Alicia Keys". AOL LLC. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  20. ^ a b Smith, Jeremy (2007-12-20). "Exclusive Interview: Nate Parker (The Great Debaters)". Cinematic Happenings Under Development. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  21. ^ a b Clark, John (2007-12-22). "Nate Parker stars in 'Great Debaters'". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  22. ^ Holden, Stephen (2007-12-25). "Leading the Charge to Inspire Underdogs". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  23. ^ "NAACP Image Awards Hold Luncheon for Nominees". Black Voice News. 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-12-13. 
  24. ^ "Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett, Denzel Whitaker". The Smiley Group, Inc. 2008-01-18. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-13. 
  25. ^ "Denzel Wins Big at NAACP Image Awards". Extra. TTT West Coast, Inc. 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2008-12-13. 
  26. ^ Perry, Byron (2008-01-23). "Nate Parker". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  27. ^ Scott, A.O. (2008-10-17). "The Secret Life of Bees (2008)". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  28. ^ Brown, Emma. "NATE PARKER'S FUTURE PAST". Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  29. ^ Dave McNary. "Aja Naomi King Joins Armie Hammer in Nat Turner Movie - Variety". Variety. Retrieved April 10, 2015. 
  30. ^ Coggan, Devan (2016-01-26). "Fox Searchlight Buys The Birth of a Nation for Record-Breaking Price". Time. Retrieved 2016-01-28. 
  31. ^ "~~Tailgate for Change @ Kent State vs. Akron w/ Special Guest Nate Parker~~ (Official Event)". Obama for America. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^

External links[edit]