Ryan Coogler

by Shannon Luders-Manuel from MY HERO

For me, with me, making a film is always about humanity.
~Ryan Coogler

122153Ryan Coogler - 2010MY HERORyan Coogler is quickly becoming a household name. The director is responsible for one of the biggest films of Hollywood’s Black Renaissance--the unofficial term for the unprecedented number of highly grossing black films, television shows, albums, and more of the past two years. Coogler directed Black Panther, a Marvel movie about a technologically advanced African country, Wakanda, that comes under attack. While this big-budget film gave hope and and a sense of power to many African Americans, Coogler’s own journey began much earlier--with a Best College Narrative win at MY HERO.

Coogler began his professional career at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. In 2009, he wrote and directed the short film Locks, about a young man who sacrifices part of his identity to show support for his sister. The film’s message represents the message of MY HERO: actions, however seemingly small, can positively influence others. These qualities are as heroic as those of a Marvel super hero. One need not possess otherworldly attributes to make a difference. Kindness--for ourselves, for others, and for the planet--can have ripple effects that reach beyond what we can even imagine.

Coogler hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings as a child in Oakland. He works with incarcerated youth in San Francisco and is a founding member of the Blackout For Human Rights campaign. In 2016, he and fellow members Jesse Williams and and Ava DuVernay hosted #JusticeForFlint, a benefit to help the victims of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

It’s no surprise, then, that the giving spirit Coogler gave his main character in Locks is present years later in Black Panther’s main character, T’Challa. He tells Fortune magazine, “Some of the things that made T’Challa a good leader were that he wasn’t afraid to empower the people that worked with him.” This quality important to T’Challa because it’s important to Coogler. He creates characters who possess his own heroic nature.

One doesn’t have to be the Ryan Coogler of 2019 to make a difference in the world. The Ryan Coogler we bore witness to in 2010 didn’t yet have an international following or a big-budget film. He was simply a student who wanted to tell a story about an everyday hero, to celebrate the goodness in the world. And he still tells these stories today.


2020s: Continued Success

In 2018, Ryan Coogler was named the runner-up for Time's Person of the Year and was listed among Time's 100 most influential people in the world.

In 2021, Coogler, along with his wife Zinzi Coogler and Sev Ohanian, founded Proximity Media, a multimedia company designed to produce event-driven content across various platforms. That same year, Coogler co-produced the critically acclaimed biopic Judas and the Black Messiah, directed by Shaka King. The film explored the story of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in late-1960s Chicago, and his betrayal by William O'Neal. The film received significant praise and garnered six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, with Coogler serving as a co-producer alongside Shaka King and Charles D. King. The film won two Oscars: Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Song ("Fight for You"). 

In 2021, Coogler also co-produced Space Jam: A New Legacy, the sequel to the classic 1996 film, starring LeBron James. In 2022, Coogler returned to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as co-writer and director for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which was released on November 11. The film was both a critical and commercial success, receiving five Academy Award nominations and winning one. It continued the legacy of the Black Panther franchise and cemented Coogler's status as a leading figure in the entertainment industry.

Student filmmakers are encouraged to watch and be inspired by 'Locks', Coogler's submission to the MY HERO Film Festival in 2010. It won first place in the Student Narrative division of the 6th Annual MY HERO International Film Festival. 

Page created on 4/30/2019 2:23:32 AM

Last edited 4/26/2024 5:52:09 PM

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