This Thanksgiving, Katie Garfield will go to the movies with her family and friends as many of us will over the holidays. But for Garfield the outing represents more than a family gathering, she’ll be sharing her latest film role as the plantation owner’s daughter, Catherine Turner, in “Birth of a Nation.”
Garfield got her acting start in the Triangle performing in plays at The Cary Theater or in musicals at her alma mater Panther Creek High School in Cary. At age 12, she signed with local talent agency, Kids Unlimited, who represents her to this day in the Southeast. In fact, it was Kids Unlimited who helped her book her role in “Birth of a Nation,” currently out in theaters.
The period drama tells the true story of Nat Turner, a slave who led a rebellion to free enslaved African Americans in Southampton County, Virginia. Garfield says the entire cast felt a huge responsibility to portray the story accurately. “I’ve seen the film four or five times and it still makes me emotional,” she says. “It’s a big scar on the face of America.”
The critically acclaimed film has been plagued by controversy. In 1999, director and star Nate Parker and his college roommate were charged with rape. Parker was ultimate- ly acquitted; his roommate was initially con- victed but the verdict was overturned. The accuser did not pursue prosecution and later committed suicide. The media coverage has cast a negative light on the film though it has been heralded as an Oscar contender.
Despite the controversy, Garfield urges people to see the movie, emphasizing its importance both historically and currently given recent racial tensions. “Still to this day we have racial and social injustices, and it’s plaguing our country. It’s very alarming,” she says. “This film has such a clear message that this sort of behavior, this sort of hatred, cannot be tolerated. It can grow very quickly out of control and manifest in a horrible way.”
This film, however, is just the start of Garfield’s rising career, and it doesn’t just include acting. She recently signed a music publishing deal with Young Guns out of Nashville. As a performer, she has a management deal with the Jonas Group. “I always dreamed of being a paid songwriter, and I couldn’t say yes fast enough,” she says.
You’ll be able to hear her music next year when a new film based on Steven King’s The Stand is released. One of her songs will be featured and sung by a well-known actor, though she can’t reveal whom quite yet. But you’ll also get a chance to see her soon on
the big screen in an independent film that was shot in North Carolina called “Strings- The Movie.”
To pursue both careers, she now divides her time between Los Angeles and Nashville with frequent visits to the Triangle to visit her
family. “When I go home for the holidays, I just want to stay home in my house, walk the dog, and chill with my family,” she says. But if she decides to go out, you might just find her singing at Deep South the Bar. “Every time I’m home I do a little acoustic set.”