MARSHALL, Texas, July 11 – Wiley College and the Nate Parker Foundation have launched the first-annual Nate Parker Summer Film Institute, held July 8 to 17 on the historically black college’s campus in Marshall, Texas. The ten-day seminar, hosted by acclaimed director and actor Nate Parker, was launched with the goal of promoting African American representation in the film industry. Following a competitive application process, thirty-one black rising high school seniors and college students from across the country were chosen to attend.
The Institute’s mission is dedicated to transforming the film industry by increasing representation of minority filmmakers through education, hands-on training, and leadership skills. The industry’s lack of diversity is well-documented with a report issued earlier this year by UCLA finding that minorities are underrepresented by nearly every metric examined, including in the number of film leads, directors, and writers.
“We need more people of color working in film today – in front of and behind the camera,” said Nate Parker. “Transforming the industry to look more like America won’t just benefit those individuals. It will benefit the communities they come from and the industry itself. The first step towards making this a reality is to open the doors of opportunity to young people, empowering them with the skills they will need and inspiring them to pursue their passion.”
The students, chosen based on essays and short stories they submitted addressing the lack of diversity in film, are poets, photographers, writers, directors and actors. During the seminar, they will attend courses in screenwriting, acting, and editing, as well as the history of minority filmmaking. At the end of the Institute, each student will display a short film they directed during the course of the seminar.
“Wiley College has a rich history and legacy of producing some of the world’s leading contributors in the fields of education, science, business, and government,” said Dr. Haywood Strickland, president of Wiley College. “Now, with the launching of the Nate Parker Summer Film Institute and the forthcoming launch of our film program, the college will produce the next generation of filmmakers telling stories steeped in African-American history, culture, experiences and beyond.”
More than a dozen notable guest lecturers will address the students, including: Radha Blank, a playwright and writer for the FOX show Empire; Professor and filmmaker, Ya’Ke Smith; Qasim “Q” Basir, an award-winning filmmaker; Cary Anderson, an acclaimed acting coach; Monika Watkins, documentary filmmaker; Kimberly Boehm, scholar of African American and 20th-century US history; and Brian Favors, co-founder of Sankofa Community Empowerment.
Parker’s relationship with Wiley College began ten years ago when he appeared in The Great Debaters, a 2007 film based on the 1930s Wiley debate team which went undefeated for ten years in championship competitions. Most recently, the Wiley College A Cappella Choir provided music for the film The Birth of a Nation – Parker’s directorial debut – which won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Emir Lewis was one of those addressing students during the launch of the Nate Parker Summer Film Institute at Wiley College. Lewis was unable to attend the event, and was replaced by Professor and filmmaker Ya’Ke Smith.
ABOUT WILEY COLLEGE: Wiley College is a historically black, primarily liberal arts institution of higher learning that was founded by the Freedman’s Aid Society in 1873 to train teachers for careers in African-American elementary and secondary schools. Today, Wiley College has a focused curriculum that includes fifteen distinct degree programs. Wiley is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and the United Negro College Fund.
ABOUT THE NATE PARKER FOUNDATION: The Nate Parker Foundation leverages film and philanthropy to transform the quality of Black lives through education, cultural enrichment, social justice, and economic empowerment.