Date of Birth: November 18, 1979
Actor Nate Parker can thank a chance encounter for setting him on a path to stardom.
After driving his aspiring model girlfriend to Texas for a gig in 2000, he was spotted by a manager named Jon Simmons who asked him to read a monologue for a film he was involved in at the time called The Fast and the Furious. Nate obliged, and when he finished, Jon quickly told him, "You have to move to Los Angeles immediately."
Nate, who was born in Norfolk, Virginia and attended both the University of Oklahoma (where he graduated with honors and a degree in management science and information systems) and Penn State University, followed Jon's advice and relocated to Los Angeles. He slept on Jon's couch and designed websites and business cards while he tirelessly auditioned for various roles. His first part came in a Tide commercial and included the line, "Mom, what smells so good?"
His first big break came with a minor role in an episode of the Emmy-nominated crime drama series Cold Case in 2004. He followed that up with a part in the feature film Cruel World, a 2004 comedy-horror film with Edward Furlong and Jaime Pressly.
In 2005, he appeared in the crime drama Dirty with Cuba Gooding Jr. Two years later, he acted in the sport film Pride with Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac.
With the Oprah Winfrey-produced film The Great Debaters (2007), which chronicled the life of poet, educator and politician Melvin B. Tolson, Nate had the opportunity to work with the man he carefully studied when he first started out in the business. He shared the screen with Denzel Washington. The Golden Globe-nominated movie also co-starred Forest Whitaker.
In 2008, Nate appeared in both the Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer film Felon, and The Secret Life of Bees, which was adapted from the coming-of-age novel of the same name by Sue Monk Kidd. It starred Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah and Alicia Keys.
Nate reteamed with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard for the action adventure Red Tails in 2012, and also appeared in the Golden Globe-nominated drama Arbitrage with Richard Gere. His third project of 2012 was the Spike Lee-directed drama Red Hook Summer.
Starring alongside Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, Nate took a part in the drama Ain't Them Bodies Saints in 2013. The film was a favorite on the festival circuit.
The next year was a busy one for Nate, who won roles in four films. He shared the screen with Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore in Non-Stop; acted with Jason Ritter, Max Greenfield and Aubrey Plaza in the drama About Alex; played a detective in Every Secret Thing alongside Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks and Dakota Fanning; and starred opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Beyond the Lights. The last film in the quartet was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category.
Nate's biggest undertaking to date was the 2016 film The Birth of a Nation, which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in. The movie profiles Nat Turner, who orchestrated a slave rebellion in 1831. It co-starred Armie Hammer and Gabrielle Union, and won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic categories at Sundance.
In the summer of 2016, a shadow was cast over Nate's past when allegations that he had raped a woman while at Penn State in 1999 resurfaced. Although he was acquitted of the charges in 2001, the story created a media storm and pulled his character into question. Jean Celestin, who co-wrote The Birth of a Nation with Nate, was also allegedly involved. The woman who accused both Nate and Jean of rape was a student at Penn State. She committed suicide in 2012.
Nate, who credits his mom for his ambition, was an NCAA All-American wrestler and competed for both the University of Oklahoma and Penn State. He has been married to his Penn State sweetheart Sarah DiSanto since 2007 and with her, has four children. He also has another daughter from a prior relationship.
Filmography:The Birth of a Nation (2016)