Wiley College officially announced early Sunday that “Beyond the Lights” and “The Great Debaters” actor Nate Parker, who is also a director, producer, writer and musical performer, is starting a film and drama school there to help empower young people in East Texas and across the country.
(The film The Great Debaters depicts the black college debate team beating Harvard College in the 1930s, though, the team actually didn’t face off against Harvard. At the time, historically black Wiley College was David and University of Southern California was Goliath, and indeed David defeated Goliath in this matchup.)
KLTV reported on Friday that Nate Parker has been keeping tabs on the black college and “even using their a capella choir for the soundtrack of his film The Birth of a Nation,” as well as announcing his election to the college board of trustees, in which Parker said he’s “honored” to serve at the position.
Now when exactly does classes begin? Here’s what we know:
- The first classes for the Nate Parker School of Film and Drama will be held in the fall.
- Before that though, about 30 high school and college students, after being picked, will have the opportunity to join a nine day summer institute as a pilot program for the school.
- In addition, ten current seniors at the black college have already been picked to serve at the institute this summer as staff.
But those are short-term goals for the school. Nate Parker also wants to “bring Hollywood back to East Texas” and to “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,” he said.
“You control the moving picture, you control the masses. So really getting them rallied around the idea of re-claiming the narrative of America, specifically through the eyes of people of color,” Parker said.