Producer Will Packer hosted a screening of Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation at his Atlanta home June 12, and the film almost moved actor Michael Ealy to tears. He was one of many celebrities invited to the private showing by Packer and his wife Heather.
Essence reports OutKast’s Big Boi, rapper Ludacris and his manager Chaka Zulu, singer-actress LeToya Luckett, civil rights activist Andrew Young and singer-songwriter Kandi Burruss were among the famous faces who joined Ealy.
“There’s a misconception that stories like the one you are about to see have been told so much, over and over again,” Packer said ahead of the screening. “And that there’s a saturation about movies of this kind. That actually is not the case. There are a lot of stories that haven’t been told yet.”
The movie, which will premiere globally Oct. 7, made waves at Sundance before being purchased by Fox Searchlight in February for a record $17.5 million distribution deal. The film follows Nat Turner, an enslaved African who lead a rebellion in Virginia in 1831. Parker stars in the role and produced the movie.
Big Boi said he had no idea Turner was a preacher before seeing Nation.
“I absolutely, positively did not know he was a preacher,” he told Essence. “He was a man of God, first, and just to see his transformation to what he became…it’s just mind blowing.”
The rapper also shared his thoughts on Twitter, congratulating Parker on his directorial debut.
#TheBirthOfANation PowerFul Film , congrats to Nate Parker, His Directorial Debut , ?? Will Packer for the invite pic.twitter.com/gDtdjbKF9P
— Big Boi (@BigBoi) June 13, 2016
For Ealy, the screening brought out a more emotional reaction. Tearing up, he explained, “They had no idea what good looked like for Black folks; we at least know that now.”
He continued, “To fight back, you almost look at that now like ‘Yeah, I would’ve done the same thing,’ but you probably wouldn’t have. You would’ve been a part of the status quo, and that’s why people like Nat Turner’s story needs to be told.”
Burruss shared a photo of and her and husband Todd Tucker at the screening on Instagram a day later.
Yesterday @todd167 & I were invited to see an early viewing of @abirthofanation. It was about the true story of Nat Turner! I love films about our history as Americans & especially African American history. @origi_nate you did an amazing job!!! I felt like I learned a few things that I didn't know about this story. The Official release isn't until October. Put this on your list of must see movies! #TheBirthOfANation Thanks @willpowerpacker for the invite!
“I felt like I learned a few things that I didn’t know about this story,” Burruss wrote in part.
Packer also posted images from the event on social media calling the movie an “incredibly powerful film.”