LOS ANGELES, Oct. 11 (UPI) — Gabrielle Union is explaining to moviegoers that it’s okay to skip out on her latest film “Birth of a Nation” due to the rape controversy surrounding its director and star Nate Parker.
“As a rape survivor and as an advocate, I cannot shy away from this responsibility because the conversation got difficult,” the actress says of supporting fellow rape victims as the film hits theaters in the latest issue of Essence magazine where she also appears of the cover.
“I don’t want to put myself above anyone’s pain or triggers. Every victim or survivor, I believe you. I support you. I support you if you don’t want to see the film,” she continued.
“I can’t sell the film. This movie has always been about more than one person, and for the outspoken feminist advocates and allies who risked a lot to be a part of this project—Aja Naomi King, Aunjanue Elllis, Penelope Ann Miller—we are okay if you have to sit this one out, and we’re okay if you don’t, and we understand.”
Previously, Union penned an op-ed published in The Los Angeles Times where she discussed her mixed emotions about starring in “Birth of a Nation” as rape allegations levied against Parker from 1999 returned due to the buzz surrounding the film.
“Regardless of what I think may have happened that night 17 years ago, after reading all 700 pages of the trial transcript, I still don’t actually know. Nor does anyone who was not in that room. But I believe that the film is an opportunity to inform and educate so that these situations cease to occur on college campuses, in dorm rooms, in fraternities, in apartments or anywhere else young people get together to socialize,” she wrote at the time.
Parker, who was acquitted by a jury in 2011, maintains his innocence that the encounter with the woman who accused him and “Birth of a Nation’ co-writer Jean Celestin of rape was consensual. Recently, it was revealed that the woman had committed suicide in 2012.
“I feel terrible that this woman isn’t here…her family had to deal with that, but as I sit here, an apology is – no,” the filmmaker said in September about apologizing on 60 Minutes.
“Birth of a Nation,” which follows Nat Turner’s slave rebellion from 1831, is now in theaters.