After a whirlwind of criticism over a 17-year-old rape case for which he was acquitted, Birth of a Nation star Nate Parker is speaking candidly about lessons learned.
The 36-year-old opened up in an exclusive interview with EBONY magazine about understanding male privilege as well as the definition of consent after his most recent Birth of a Nation screening at the Merge Summit in LA.
“When I was first met with the news that this part of my past had come up, my knee-jerk reaction was selfish,” he admitted.
“I wasn’t thinking about even the potential hurt of others. I was thinking about myself.”
Parker says when he was 19-years-old, he had not put a lot of thought into the definition of consent.
“When I think about 1999, I think about being a 19-year-old kid, and I think about my attitude and behavior just toward women with respect to objectifying them,” he stated.
“I never thought about consent as a definition, especially as I do now. I think the definitions of so many things have changed.”
He said that at 19 he understood that if a woman said no, that was it, but if she didn’t say the words “and was down, it was like, how far can I go?”
“Let me be the first to say, I can’t remember ever having a conversation about the definition of consent when I was a kid,” he said.
This is not the first interview that Parker has given on the subject. Earlier in the month, he spoke to Variety and Deadline with both of those interviews being widely criticized.
He said to EBONY that in those previous interviews, he was “speaking from a standpoint of ignorance” and “was acting as if I was the victim, and that’s wrong.”
“I called a couple of sisters that [I] know that are in the space that talk about the feminist movement and toxic masculinity, and just asked questions,” said Parker.
“‘What did I do wrong?’ Because I was thinking about myself. And what I realized is that I never took a moment to think about the woman.”
He pointed out that at the time of those interviews, he was not aware that the woman had committed suicide.
Parker also apologized for comments he made in 2014 about choosing not to play gay roles as a black man. He said both incidents have taught him to take steps forward to improve.
“I got work to do,” Parker told EBONY. “I got a lot of work to do within myself.”