Nate Parker, the star, writer and director of the upcoming drama film The Birth Of A Nation, appeared on Good Morning America today (Oct. 3) to speak candidly about the film and also touch upon a controversy that has been following him for several months.
Parker was accused of raping a then-classmate while he was a student at Penn State University in 1999. While he was acquitted, Parker’s roommate Jean Celestin, who also co-wrote the film, was found guilty; his verdict was later overturned on appeal. The case re-emerged over the summer when it was discovered that the accuser had committed suicide a few years ago.
“I said it last night, I was falsely accused,” the 36-year-old told Robin Roberts this morning after she asked why he seems empathetic about the situation. “I was proven innocent and I’m not going to apologize for that.”
“I think the important thing, you know, is this isn’t about me,” he said, attempting to shift the focus of the interview back over to the film. “The story of Nat Turner as an American, as American people, the story about a man who was erased from history, at some point. I think that’s where our focus should be.”
On Sunday night’s (Oct. 2) edition of 60 Minutes in which Parker and the film were highlighted, Parker told host Anderson Cooper that he was sorry about the way news surrounding the case has unfolded, however, he said he was not apologizing for anything.
“I do think it’s tragic, so much of what’s happened. And the fact that the family’s had to endure with respect to this woman not being here,” he said. “I was falsely accused. You know, I went to court. And I sat in trial. You know, I was vindicated. I was proven innocent. And I feel terrible that this woman isn’t here. I feel terrible that her family had to deal with that. But as I sit here, an apology is, no.”