One of the stars of “The Birth of a Nation” is voicing her thoughts on the lead actor’s resurfaced troubles. Gabrielle Union, a rape survivor, wrote an op-ed addressing her co-star Nate Parker’s allegations of the same nature.
Revealing her role in the Nat Turner biopic, Union shared why she wanted to play the character of Esther.
“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,” the actress explained in the Los Angeles Times. “In her silence, she represents countless Black women who have been and continue to be violated.
“I knew I could walk out of our movie and speak to the audience about what it feels like to be a survivor.”
In 1992, a man raped Union at gunpoint in the back room of a Payless shoe store where she worked. Though a jury acquitted Parker in 2001, the resurfaced 1999 allegations against the “Nation” director, writer and producer bewildered her.
“Since Nate Parker’s story was revealed to me, I have found myself in a state of stomach-churning confusion,” Union shared. “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.’ ”
The issue of consent was at the center of Parker’s case. The woman said she was unconscious while Parker maintained he had her permission to have sex.
The accuser’s brother later revealed she committed suicide in 2012.
Because of the confusion, Union said she and her husband teach their sons about affirmative consent.
Still, the “Being Mary Jane” actress thinks audiences should see the historical drama Oct. 7.
“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,” the 43-year-old said. “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.”
“It is my hope that we can use this as an opportunity to look within,” she concluded. “To open up the conversation. To reach out to organizations which are working hard to prevent these kinds of crimes.”