May 23, 1986
Oakland, California, United States
Zinzi Evans Coogler
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Ryan Coogler was an American director who found success early in his career with short films and his lauded feature-length film debut "Fruitvale Station" (2013) before going on to become one of the most commercially successful black filmmakers in history. Ryan Coogler was born on May 23, 1986 in Oakland, California. His mother was a community organizer, and his father was a probation officer. Coogler was an athletic child, and he attended Saint Mary's College of California on a football scholarship. There, he studied chemistry, though a professor encouraged him to look into screenwriting. Coogler transferred, eventually landing at the USC School Of Cinematic Arts. There, he began directing award-winning short films, which centered on true-to-life and often harrowing tales. Starting at age 21, Coogler worked with at-risk youth, following in his father's footsteps by working in the prison system. His next cinematic venture was "Fruitvale," a feature-length film about the last 24 hours of Oscar Grant's life before he was shot by policemen in Coogler's hometown of Oakland in a manslaughter case that had gone mostly overlooked by the public. The film, renamed "Fruitvale Station," starred Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, and Octavia Spencer, and Forest Whitaker was one of the producers. After winning much praise and many awards at Sundance and Cannes, it was released by The Weinstein Company to popular and critical success. In 2014, Coogler signed on to direct "Creed," a "Rocky" spin-off also starring Michael B. Jordan. Its critical and commercial success led to the biggest film of Coogler's career so far, "Black Panther" (2018). The first film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe to focus on a black lead character with a majority-black cast, the film was not only a massive commercial success, it was hailed as a major move forward for African-American filmmakers in general.