Norfolk filmmaker makes history at Sundance Film Festival

Nate Parker, the director, star and producer of "The Birth of a Nation," poses at the premiere of the film at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

PARK CITY, Utah (WAVY) – Hampton Roads native Nate Parker left a successful Hollywood acting career, to spend seven years on a project that mattered the most to him. That hard work and sacrifice paid off after his film “The Birth of a Nation” sold at Sundance Film Festival for an event record $17.5 million.

The Norfolk native wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the movie about Nat Turner, a former slave, who lead slave revolts in Virginia in 1831.

“I’ve poured everything that I am into making it. I made this film for one reason, with hope of creating change agents, that people could watch this film and be affected,” Parker told media at the festival.

Fox Searchlight was the buyer of the film, and plans to release it to 1,500 theaters nationwide at some point in 2016.

Parker, who attended Princess Anne High School, and then later Great Bridge High School, was also an accomplished wrestler, winning a Virginia State Championship in 1998. He then went on to wrestle for the University of Oklahoma, becoming an All-American in 2002.

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