The direct of the 2016 film “The Birth of a Nation,” Nate Parker, has officially announced the launch of a School of Film and Drama in his name at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas.
The historically black college in East Texas also confirmed the news on Twitter. The choice of college is not coincidental. It once served as a setting to Denzel Washington-directed 2007 movie The Great Debaters, which starred Parker and made him a superstar, writes Arlene Washington of The Hollywood Reporter.
The School will institutionalize this fall. Before its official opening it will host a short, nine-day summer pilot program for 30 high school students and college seniors. In an interview with ABC affiliate KLTV, cited by Yesha Callahan of The Root, Parker said he wanted the school to focus on all vital aspects of filmmaking, including cinematography, sound, history of the film, and more. Parker also hoped the School will turn into a hub for students pursuing a career in the movie industry:
“If I can create a pipeline toward filmmaking physically through developing the college, having filmmakers be nurtured and cultivated here, and then having somewhere for them to go with respect for them actually being able to engage in filmmaking here in East Texas, then it kind of serves multiple purposes.”
Some Wiley College seniors have already been invited to join Parker’s new school as staff.
As Brennan Williams of The Huffington Post writes, this is not the first successful cooperation between the actor and director and Wiley College. Parker worked closely with the institution in the past to provide scholarships for talented students via the 100 Men of Excellence initiative. In addition to that, Parker now is a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, and the Wiley College’s choir performs in the upcoming release of Parker’s The Birth of a Nation.
Wiley College, like many other historically black colleges and universities, was established soon after the U.S. Civil War to provide the educational chances that had long been denied to black Americans. These institutions received special recognition through the Higher Education Act of 1965. Since then they have become an important educational hub for students of color and low-income Americans of all origins, including some schools serving large populations of white students as well.
Nate Parker, 36, is an American actor, director, writer, a musician and a producer. He was born and raised in Virginia and has a degree in computer programming from Oklahoma University with some work in the field. A talent manager noticed him at a modeling convention in Dallas and convinced him to move to Los Angeles. Parker appeared in Beyond The Lights, The Secret Life of Bees, The Great Debaters, and many other films and projects.
2016 has been a successful year for Parker, with his upcoming slave revolt drama “The Birth of a Nation” having already been purchased for a record amount of $17.5 million at the Sundance Film Festival, writes Zak Cheney-Rice of Mic.