For today’s educator profile we want to introduce you to DeRante Parker. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California. He was born in Atlanta, GA, but grew up most of his life in Las Vegas. He attended college for acting in Pocatello, ID, then went off to Columbia, SC to get an MFA in acting. DeRante joined Catharsis Productions in 2009 and received his rape victim advocate training from the RVA of Chicago.
CP: What is your favorite part about working at Catharsis Productions?
DeRante: Over the years, I must admit, my favorite part about working with Catharsis Productions is telling people what I do for a living. Whether I’m on the plane, hanging out at the hotel lobby, or in some other social setting, often the question is asked, “So what do you do?” I suppress my smile and I humbly say, “Well I’m an Educator slash Actor.” Typically when you say “actor”, people will assume you’re unemployed, so I get this sense of satisfaction when I ultimately share with them that I do in fact have a job, and I fly to different military installations and perform a show about sexual assault. Not only does this spark further conversation, I also get to show people how works-of-art can be used to bring about social change.
What is a common misconception students have about the topic you teach?
DeRante: Outside of the show, the most common misconception most people have is that I talk about sexual harassment. So I often need to clarify that I actually teach on sexual assault and rape prevention. But in the show, it seems that most student think that what we are trying to say is, “don’t be a rapist.” I cannot emphasize enough to students that that is not our message, and certainly not mine personally. So, it takes a bit of finesse getting student to see clearly that what we are actually trying to change are the myths and ideas surrounding the topic of sexual assault, which would not only be harmful to rape survivors but also provide camouflage to sexual predators.
Tell us something new that you have learned since you’ve been working as an Educator at Catharsis Productions?
DeRante: I’ve been so totally fulfilled by all the lessons and skills I’ve obtained over the years, it’s hard to choose. But perhaps the most recent lesson I’m learning is how to answer the person and not just the question. When students ask questions, they bring all of their assumptions and beliefs behind the inquiry. I try to detect the meaning behind the question and seek to address the person asking the question and not just the question.
What is most surprising to you about your work as an educator?
DeRante: It is most surprising to me that we actually affect people and create change. I truly believe that we impact students at every show, and it still surprises me.
Any curious facts about you?
DeRante: I love dancing, shooting pool, and roller skating. I’m working on writing a pilot and I recently started driving for Lyft in Los Angeles.