Actors seeking more creative control often turn to directing. Chandler Parker decided law school was a more inspired opportunity to shape the course of his career. "I love acting, but sometimes it feels very powerless," Parker explained. "I've always been attracted to the practice of law because it encompasses a wide variety of knowledge and skills.'
The performance aspect of legal training has come naturally to Parker, who recently won First Place Oralist at the SCALE Appellate Advocacy Competition. And though he says legal writing is a big challenge, his brief for the competition did earn an honorable mention, which he deems "a testament to how well Southwestern is preparing me to be an effective writer."
Although balancing the extraordinary amount of work in SCALE with his personal life is a major feat for the self-proclaimed perfectionist, Parker takes pleasure in the intellectual stimulation of law school and enjoys gardening to counterbalance the stress. He has particularly enjoyed Civil Procedure with Professor Aronovsky, Professor Karen Smith's Criminal Procedure class and the way Professor Sloan brings to life the subject matter in her Contracts course.
In an effort to learn about more areas of the law, Parker spent the summer externing for the District Attorney's Office, working on a high-profile death penalty case. He is a member of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and plans to join the Moot Court Honors Program. But he intends to keep at least one foot firmly planted in the entertainment business. He is currently developing a kids' show with actor Adrian Grenier (Entourage), which turns children's ideas into movies.
Parker's impressive list of acting credits includes roles in the movies Be Kind Rewind, Preaching to the Choir and Deception as well as guest-starring stints on Cold Case, Numb3rs, Law and Order and The Sopranos. He played the part of Jailbait in a Suzan-Lori Parks play at the Public Theater, a famous off Broadway venue. He points out, "It's usually so hard to find a job as an actor. It's great to get any job, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be [playing Craig] in Be Kind Rewind because it was about the power that art can have to inspire a downtrodden community, and that's why I was so proud to be a part of it."
Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Parker's entrepreneurial spirit led him to establishing a nonprofit organization devoted to producing theater around the country and the birth of the Create Carolina Arts Festival held annually at Winthrop University. With a B.F.A. degree in Acting from the esteemed University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Parker chose Southwestern because of its location and strong connections in the entertainment industry. In particular, he loved the idea of SCALE, a two-year program where he thought it would be easier to "rip the band-aid off fast rather than slowly peel it." To his delight, law school has opened his mind to other possibilities.
"I wanted more control over the direction my life would take, and I came to law school to widen my skills and achieve my goals as an actor," he said. "Since coming to Southwestern I've broadened my horizons and become interested in other facets of the law." Other areas that have garnered Parker's attention include constitutional law, business practice and civil rights. "I am primarily interested in being in the courtroom, thinking on my feet and presenting arguments to win."