Gabrielle Union recently learned about an unsettling scandal surrounding the director she worked with on The Birth Of A Nation.
In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, the actress opens up about learning Nate Parker stood trial for rape allegations back in 2001.
The filmmaker and his college roommate — and Nation cowriter — Jean Celestin had been charged with the 1999 rape of a woman who claimed she was intoxicated and unconscious, while both men attest it was consensual.
The director was ultimately acquitted; the accuser committed suicide four years ago.
Union, who is a rape survivor herself, was very upset when she discovered the allegations last month, writing:
“Since Nate Parker’s story was revealed to me, I have found myself in a state of stomach-churning confusion.”
In Nate’s film, the 43-year-old plays an unnamed slave who was sexually assaulted.
The Nebraska native says she signed on for the role two years ago because she wanted to represent those women who have gone through such a traumatic time, adding:
“I took this role because I related to the experience. I also wanted to give a voice to my character, who remains silent throughout the film. In her silence, she represents countless black women who have been and continue to be violated. Women without a voice, without power. Women in general. But black women in particular. I knew I could walk out of our movie and speak to the audience about what it feels like to be a survivor.”
But, Miz Union is very upset, conflicted, and confused in light of what she learned about Mr. Parker’s case:
“As important and ground-breaking as this film is, I cannot take these allegations lightly. On that night, 17-odd years ago, did Nate have his date’s consent? It’s very possible he thought he did. Yet by his own admission he did not have verbal affirmation; and even if she never said ‘no,’ silence certainly does not equal ‘yes.'”
And, while she was shocked to read that the man she worked so closely with was accused of the very assault she subjected to when she was younger, the actress admitted she doesn’t know for sure what happened that fateful night in 1999.
Dwayne Wade‘s wife hopes The Birth of a Nation helps raise awareness about rape culture, and help to educate audiences everywhere on the sad subject:
“Regardless of what I think may have happened that night 17 years ago, after reading all 700 pages of the trial transcript, I still don’t actually know. Nor does anyone who was not in that room. But I believe that the film is an opportunity to inform and educate so that these situations cease to occur on college campuses, in dorm rooms, in fraternities, in apartments or anywhere else young people get together to socialize.”
The inspiring woman also stressed just how important it is to properly educate everyone about what constitutes consent:
“This is real. We are real. Sexual violence happens more often than anyone can imagine. And if the stories around this film do not prove and emphasize this, then I don’t know what does.”
You can read Gabrielle’s entire, powerful post here.
[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]