Nate Parker’s role in the suspenseful new release, Non-Stop, finds him alongside action hero Liam Neeson on a crowded plane headed to England. Things aren't as they seem as the plane is taken over by an unknown killer threat. Admitting to wearing the same clothes every day for a month of shooting, Parker and the cast which also included Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, and Lupita Nyong’o, became tight having to work in close quarters every single day of making the movie in New York at JFK Airport.
When Oscar favorite Lupita Nyong’o came on set few knew her impact, not even Parker. Over a year ago, long before anyone was aware of the future power of 12 Years a Slave, months before she became a household name, the only ones that knew of Lupita were the Non-Stop crew, several who’d worked on 12 Years a Slave, others who’d heard buzz of the film’s greatness the minute production wrapped.
Nate, who’s been in the business since 2004 after accidentally being found by a talent agent, has worked with Hollywood greats like Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker in The Great Debaters, and Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard in Red Tails. But while working on the set of Non-Stop his observation of Lupita – who was given the very tiny role of a flight attendant by director Jaume Collet-Serra simply because he liked her personality – has Parker inspired, hopeful, and in rallying mode. During a Q&A in Los Angeles, after a private screening of Non-Stop, here’s what he said about working with Lupita and his hopes for Hollywood and the Oscars:
“She’s beautiful, she’s humble. You’d never know. She could have come on set and said, ‘I’m just doing this for the money. I got an Academy Award coming up.’ You never would have known. No one knew. And I spent time with her every single day. We ate lunch almost every day. And she never really talked about it. She just treated everyone with the respect. And here’s a woman who’s Yale educated, takes her craft very seriously. And all I hope for her is that Hollywood recognizes her talent. And this doesn’t become some film we see her in and three years from now, we’re like, ‘Yeah, remember Lupita?’ I wanna see more darker skin, short hair, thick lips, body. We exist. We’re here. We’re engrained into the fabric of this country and we deserve to be represented across the board. So let’s see where she is next year at the Academy Awards. Because I know her talent and know she deserves to be there too.”