I have been known to call the next great thing way before anyone else a time or two and I pretty much have been calling it about Nate Parker for quite some time now. I mean, how could I not be captivated? My first time seeing him was opposite Denzel (who happened to be his director at the time) and I was so caught up I only saw Nate Parker (I generally say his whole name so don't mind me). He was really remarkable. Like super solid and handsome and leading man and yeah all of that lol. I'm sure my friends were sick of me with Nate Parker. Then there was a period where I still loved him just didn't dig his character or his role much. And that's no dig - it happens if you watch enough movies (same with books - you don't love every single character!). Then he came back so hood/gangsta in "Red Hook Summer", I was convinced he could do it all. And then came "Beyond The Lights" and that would get me all off topic (OMG super fine, saved the damsel in distress and preferred the natural girl oh yes Nate!). I digress...
I'd never see him out or in the news so I figured he was probably a quiet, well read guy. I figured he'd likely direct something one day - again Denzel directed him in his first feature. I always had an eye on Nate Parker honey. I remember when I got my hands on "Birth of A Nation". It was late in the day when it came so I printed it and got ready for an evening in. I was so amazed. My vision of near perfection had been surpassed. This brother can write - like the kind of entertaining and structurally sound film writing dripping in intellect and confidence in the factual historical content type of write. By this time he was in production and casting and I didn't know the story of how he got the money. I thought he made good choices as I read about the project on Deadline. I just knew it would be great.
His film appeared at Sundance on Monday evening. And the preceding news stories all reported on how he raised TEN MILLION DOLLARS for his film. I also read he stopped being available for work until his project was done. Nate Parker was BOUT THAT LIFE! For real. The buzz was swift and favorable - Nate Parker had written, acted, directed and produced himself to the top of the Sundance conversation. Everybody everywhere was talking about "Birth of A Nation". Around 11ish, my coworker told me there was a livestream interview with cast and crew from the film. I immediately got the earplugs out and tuned in to this conversation and found out so many interesting facts including that he has a wife and a mortgage but put up $100,000 of his own dollars to make the movie, he had to go out and ask people for money, he was so knowledgeable about what's happening in the world right now. But there was one fact I didn't know and it really took me by surprise.
The moderator asked Nate Parker something like how did he do it but really the question became obsolete once I heard the answer. He responded, "I didn't know how I'd get it done. It was just pray, pray, pray, pray, do it. Pray, pray, pray, do it. There was no luxury of thinking about it."
I have been struggling with what to DO about my career. I have a big birthday rapidly approaching and I feel like it's now or never on my dream or I feel like it's about time to let the dream go and at last, focus on getting this money (my dream has money potential but I'm still in the not enough coins phase). Then I see someone as awesome-sauce as Nate Parker, making a clear line in the sand for his film. It surpassed what HE could do, he had to seek the supreme power...
As I review the last year of my life I've been super busy but I'm not sure what I was doing. I didn't write. I didn't shoot. I did simple edits at work but nothing for real. I wasn't even doing my collage scrapbooks - I was not in my creative flow. When I'm not creating the doubt flows in. When I'm being doubtful the world appears dark and there's nothing I can do to shake it. Even things I once viewed favorably become awful (Yeah I shot a short but it had sound and mirror shot issues; yes I produced a play but I don't have any of the money left I raised to put on the show; yes I work for a top talent management company but there's nothing happening there as it relates to me/my goals/my career.) Everything seems dark.
I admit, I turn to prayer in these times but when my prayer life is on, the truth is that my action levels are not. I pray and wait. I go into hiding as I pray and wait. I don't like to talk to my friends or family, I just pray and way. But there was Nate Parker with another alternative. And like all "signs", this one work because it reminded me of my Granny's "faith without works is dead" mantra. What about if I pray and do? Like make it a point to pray and do. Ironically a good friend who never talks church or God recently shared her experience with a fast. She said she felt compelled to DO something for God. What have I done? While I don't think comparison is helpful in general, I do think we can compare our actions to that of someone we see achieving what we want - i.e. how we all look at youtube videos for workout, cooking and hair tips! Where was my action?
In the past, I recall praying for work then going out and applying any and everywhere. I remember praying for writing opportunities then sitting at my computer and creating them by blogging and submitting articles. I remember my prayers around my last short film project and then going out and asking for actors, crew and locations. Things do happen when prayer and action combine. For Nate Parker, the result was a record breaking film sale at Sundance and as I learned in his interview, more importantly to him, he's telling a story not many people know. He's creating a reference of a man that decided today is the day and he wouldn't take it anymore. He's drawing a parallel to a time past and subconsciously asking us what will we do. What better messenger than Nate Parker to deliver the news. I've had enough. I'm ready to go about this life in a different way. I'm picking up my weapons-prayer and action.
Time for my own revolution.