It’s always noteworthy when art and life collide. Actor Nate Parker stars in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s musically inspired romantic drama, Beyond The Lights, coming to theaters this October. Parker plays Kaz Nicol, a police officer with political ambitions who becomes romantically involved with a pop superstar named Noni Jean, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Parker is very outspoken about social issues and was en route visit to Ferguson Missouri this past summer to join the community protesting the murder of teenager Mike Brown at the hands of local police officer Darren Wilson. However, before he even reached Ferguson, Parker was profiled and detained by police and had his car towed for allegedly using a cellphone while driving. He documented the encounter on his twitter page.
Parker was in attendance at the opening night of the 2014 Urbanworld Film Festival for the premiere of Beyond The Lights and spoke to WatchLOUD about his feelings on law enforcement.
“When I made the film the Ferguson situation hadn’t happened but it didn’t need to, for the simple fact that there is an injury between the Black community and police officers at large,” he says. “The Ferguson thing happens all of the time. But I think before we are so quick to just villainize all cops we should ask ourselves what is the conditioning that is happening? What is the training that is happening? What is the protocol that is happening? I think we need to examine the dehumanization of Black men by media, by the police, by so many things we deal with on a day-to-day basis…the over criminalization of Black men. We deal with stop and frisk, all of these things. The reality is when a cop’s knee-jerk reaction is to shoot first when it comes to Black people there’s a problem that needs to be dealt with at the root. Where’s that programming coming from? How has he been trained and why is that ok? Why does he hesitate when he sees a young white male? It’s deeper than just villainizing one person…because Ferguson is going to happen every two weeks for the next how many years until we stop it.”
Parker will be taking a less pragmatic stance on the big screen in an up-coming film on the life of Nat Turner, a Virginia slave who lead a rebellion in 1831 that resulted in 55 white deaths, but was later sentenced to death and hanged.
“We go into production December 1st. I’m in pre-production right now but I came back for this,” he said. “We will make an announcement very soon but it’s moving forward in the most amazing ways. I praise God for it everyday. I will be playing Nat Turner. He’s my hero. If I never worked again I wouldn’t care.”
Thankfully for us he will be working for at least the foreseeable future. Catch the trailer to Beyond The Lights below!