Not many actors get their career advice from Denzel Washington.
Nate Parker, star of the newly released film Arbitrage, starred alongside Washington in The Great Debaters in 2007 and he told Parker that an actors career is determined by the first five roles they take.
“It was a daunting statement, because for your first five jobs you’re just like, ‘I wanna do work, what can I do, hey put me in’,” Parker told The National. “But it’s so much more than that. I think if you can have discretion, especially in the beginning, then you’ve created a persona that people will accept. When they look at you they’ll think: ‘Oh, that’s the guy who did these three movies that I like for these three reasons.’ But it’s a rough road.”
The actor has already appeared in Red Tails and Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, but says he’s done “maybe 11 or 12 films so far, which is a low average. But I’m extremely careful to a fault about which roles I choose.”
Parker takes his position as an actor very seriously. “Acting is a form of expression,” he said. “People, especially young people, don’t read as much as they should, so I feel like film is the new medium of literacy. We have a responsibility to put things on screen that will perpetuate the right kind of truth that will motivate the trajectory of our young people.”
Arbitrage, also starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon, is in limited release in theaters now.