Nate Parker Apologizes for Being “Tone Deaf” When Responding to Resurfaced Rape Allegations, Spike Lee Supports Him

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Nate Parker Apologizes
Directors Nate Parker poses for portrait photographs for the film ‘American Skin’ at the 76th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

After a three-year hiatus, actor, director and producer Nate Parker is back with a new film, “American Skin.” During a press conference at the Venice Film Festival Sunday, Parker apologized for how he responded to resurfaced rape allegations that tanked his career and “Birth of a Nation” film in 2016. He was accompanied by iconic filmmaker Spike Lee.

“Three years ago, I was pretty tone-deaf to the realities of certain situations that were happening in the climate. And I’ve had a lot of time to think about that, and I’ve learned a lot from it,” Parker said, according to Variety. “And being tone-deaf, there were a lot of people that were hurt in my response, in the way I approached things. I apologize to those people.” 

Before the rape allegations from 1999 resurfaced, there was talk of Oscar-nominations for Parker’s “Birth of A Nation” film. It had made history at Sundance when fox Searchlight purchased it for $17.5 million, reported The Root.

Once the immense backlash from the resurfaced allegations reached pitch, Parker responded by saying he’d been “falsely accused,” was acquitted and “vindicated.” His use of words and the fact that Parker’s accuser committed suicide in 2012 made the backlash worse.

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What was once a bright career trajectory screeched to a halt. Now Parker is hoping to get back to telling important and relevant stories. “American Skin” is about police brutality and centers around a Black marine veteran whose 14-year-old son is killed by the police in front of him during a traffic stop.

“The reality is, they say the artist job is to reflect the times my goal was to reflect the times. Seeing the things I see every day, feeling the way I feel every time I get into the car … knowing that no matter what your title, how much money you have [“If you’re colored,” Lee interjected] when you get in the car to go somewhere you’re in danger … it’s a huge problem,” Parker said.

He added that “the last three years have been such a learning experience.” Lee said he was there to support Parker.

“He explained to me the growth he had gone through, and also the pain, and when he said that, I said, ‘Come on, brother. I’m with you. That’s why I’m here,’” Lee said.