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Ryan Coogler

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Ryan Coogler was born on May 23, 1986 in Oakland, California, where he spent part of childhood before moving to Richmond. A talented football player, he earned an athletic scholarship to attend Saint Mary’s College of California, playing wide receiver and studying chemistry. However, the school cancelled its football program in 2004, leading Coogler to transfer to Sacramento State. There, he continued playing football while majoring in finance and taking a number of elective film classes. He graduated and was accepted to USC’s prestigious School of Cinematic Arts.

At USC, Coogler directed several award-winning short films before graduating and embarking on his feature debut Fruitvale Station (2013). The film, which chronicles the final day in the life of police shooting victim Oscar Grant, won both the audience and grand jury awards at the Sundance Film Festival and the Best First Film prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. Only 27, Coogler had already established himself as an exceptional and in-demand film director.

He followed Fruitvale Station with Rocky franchise reboot Creed (2015), earning more plaudits from critics and significant financial success. Though Coogler was not nominated for an Academy Award, he won numerous critics awards and the film was honored in the National Board of Review’s Top 10 Films of 2015.

After being turned down by Ava Duvernay, Marvel offered Black Panther to Coogler in 2016. The film has since become the third highest-grossing North American release in history as of this writing, as well as the highest grossing film ever directed by a black person. Coogler’s next project is the drama Wrong Answer, based on the real-life Atlanta school cheating scandal in 2009. Coogler married partner Zinzi Evans in 2016. When not working on film, he works as a counselor for incarcerated youth in San Francisco.

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