Gabrielle Union Says Nate Parker Is A "Good Man"

Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock
Birth of a Nation star Gabrielle Union defended her director, Nate Parker, at the movie's premiere.

To say that controversy has dogged the director and film would be engaging in near-insulting undestatement. AFI, for example, cancelled a screening of the film after rape allegations against Parker from 1999 resurfaced.

His accuser committed suicide in 2012.

Since then, Parker has appeared contrite in interviews and said more or less all the right things. Union has defended him in the past in a lengthy Los Angeles Times op-ed praising Parker for his sensitivity in depicting sexual assault in Nation. Union herself is a sexual assault survivor and has continued standing by her director, giving him credit for becoming a more enlightened person.

"I refuse to leave him in the same place that I found him," she told People. "And I know he's a good man. I know he's a good man, and he's a brilliant filmmaker, but just like all of us, we're all evolving and we all have a tremendous amount of space to learn and to grow. Once you allow yourself to be humbled, that's when real growth really, really happens, and that's what I think we're all seeing."

Union said that the film had a very personal meaning for her as a Black woman who has survived sexual assault.

"I take the responsibility very seriously, and I took the film so I could talk about black liberation as well as sexual violence," she told People. "Because my character didn't have any lines, I knew that I was going to have this opportunity on the press tour to talk about the intersectionality of the movements of my blackness and my woman-ness, and that sexual violence has always existed at that crossroads."

Credit to Union for using her star power and presence to effect change, even if it is one person at a time.
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