Actress Gabrielle Union ignored advice not to work with Nate Parker on movie Birth Of A Nation.
The Bring It On star is a rape survivor, and spoke of her terrifying ordeal during a 2014 interview on TV show The View when she revealed she was raped at gunpoint at the age of 19.
Union was made aware of the sexual assault allegation made against writer/director Parker 17 years ago before working with him.
Parker and his co-writer Jean Celestin were charged with sexual assault while they were students at Penn State University.
The Beyond the Lights actor was acquitted in the case. Celestin was initially found guilty of sexual assault in the same case, but the conviction was later overturned when the accuser declined to testify for a retrial. The accuser killed herself in 2012.
However, Union decided her participation in the movie would better provide a platform to highlight the issue of sexual violence.
"This movie is so much bigger than me, than Nate, but it includes all of us in moving this conversation forward," Union explained to the Associated Press (AP) on Saturday (10Sep16) at a junket for the film at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"I was actually encouraged to shirk my responsibilities, duck it, cut ties... My whole point in taking this film was to talk about sexual violence, and it seems asinine to shirk that responsibility," stressed Union.
"I have a responsibility as a decent human being to continue the conversation surrounding sexual assault, rape culture, and toxic masculinity and misogyny and that our movement at Birth of a Nation is not narrowly focused."
Parker's sexual assault allegation has threatened to overshadow the highly anticipated account of the 1831 slave rebellion led by African-American icon Nat Turner. Editors at AP reported he refused to answer questions about the incident at the junket.
"I have spoken about it a couple of times, and I'm sure I will speak in future forums, but the reality is that this forum is for film, and there are 400 people that put their blood, sweat and tears into this, and a lot of them are having their ... first film festival,” Nate said.