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Ryan Kyle Coogler[1] (born May 23, 1986) is an American film director and screenwriter. His first feature film, Fruitvale Station (2013), won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.[2] He also wrote and directed the seventh, spin-off, film in the Rocky film saga, Creed (2015).[3]

Ryan Coogler
Ryan Coogler by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Coogler at San Diego Comic Con in 2016
Born Ryan Kyle Coogler
(1986-05-23) May 23, 1986 (age 31)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Alma mater California State University, Sacramento, USC School of Cinematic Arts
Occupation Film director, screenwriter
Years active 2009–present
Known for Creed, Fruitvale Station, Black Panther
Spouse(s) Zinzi Evans


Early lifeEdit

Coogler was born on May 23, 1986 in Oakland, California. His mother, Joselyn (née Thomas),[1] is a community organizer, and his father, Ira Coogler, is a juvenile hall probation counselor. Both parents graduated from California State University, Hayward. He has two brothers, Noah and Keenan.[4] His uncle, Clarence Thomas, is a third-generation Oakland longshoreman, and the former secretary treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.[5]

Coogler lived in Oakland, California until age eight, when he moved to Richmond, California.[4] During his youth, he ran track and played football.[6] He went to Saint Mary's College High School, a private Catholic school in Albany, California[7], and was good at math and science.[8][9] He started his college journey at Saint Mary's College of California on a football scholarship as a redshirt wide receiver his freshman semester intending to study chemistry.[4] While he was there, his English professor Rosemary Graham encouraged him to pursue a career in screenwriting.[9]

After Saint Mary's canceled its football program in March 2004,[10] he transferred and earned a scholarship to play at and attend Sacramento State, where in his four years he grabbed 112 receptions for 1,213 yards and 6 touchdowns.[11] At Sacramento he majored in finance and took as many film classes as he could fit in with the rigors of college football. He then attended USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he made a series of short films.[12]


While at USC, Coogler directed four short films, three of which won or were nominated for various awards: Locks (2009), which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and won the Dana and Albert Broccoli Award for Filmmaking Excellence; Fig (2011), which was nominated for an Outstanding Independent Short Film by the Black Reel Awards; The Sculptor (2011), and Gap (2011), which won the Jack Nicholson Award for Achievement in Directing, and had a screenplay written by Carol S. Lashof.

Fruitvale StationEdit

Coogler's first feature-length film, Fruitvale (later retitled Fruitvale Station), tells the story of the last 24 hours of the life of Oscar Grant, who was shot to death by a police officer at Oakland's Fruitvale BART station on January 1, 2009. The film was developed and produced by Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker. "I've worked with a number of truly unique voices, true auteurs," Whitaker said of Coogler, "and I can tell when I'm talking to one."[13]

Coogler accepts the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic with the crew of Fruitvale Station at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Coogler in 2013

After the film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film, The Weinstein Company acquired the distribution rights for approximately US$2 million.[14][15] The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival[16] where it won the award for Best First Film (or Un Certain Regard - Avenir Prize).[17] Time named him with Michael B. Jordan one of 30 people under 30 who are changing the world.[18]

In 2013, the film won numerous awards: the Humanitas Prize at Sundance, a Best First Feature Award from the Independent Spirit Awards, a Best First Film Award from the Austin Film Critics Association, a Rising Star Award from the Black Film Critics Circle Awards, a Best New Filmmaker Award from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Russell Smith Award at the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards, an Audience Award and a Revelations Award at the Deauville Film Festival, a Breakthrough Director Award at the Gotham Awards, a Breakout Filmmaker of the Year Award at the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, a Vimeo Award at the Nantucket Film Festival, a Best Directorial Debut from the National Board of Review, a Best First Film award from the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, a Best Debut as a Director award from the New York Film Critics Online, a Best Debut Feature award from the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards, the Stanley Kramer Award from the PGA Awards, the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, an Honorary Satellite Award at the Satellite Awards, the Aluminum Horse Award for Best Directorial Debut at the Stockholm Film Festival, and an Audience Award for Best American Film from the Traverse City Film Festival.[19]

Fruitvale Station grossed over $17 million worldwide after its theatrical run,[20] and earned a score of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.[21]


In July 2013, it was reported that MGM had offered Coogler to direct Creed, a spin-off-sequel of the Rocky films, which he had written with Aaron Covington.[22] Coogler arrived at the idea after witnessing his father suffer from a neuromuscular disorder; his father was a huge fan of the Rocky films, having made Coogler watch Rocky II before major sporting events that he would participate in, such as important football games.[23] This film, which was released on November 25, 2015 in the United States, reunited Coogler with Michael B. Jordan, who played Apollo Creed's son Adonis.[24] The film was praised across the board by critics.[25]

For the film, Coogler won the "New Generation Award" from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and a Best Director award from the African-American Film Critics Association. The film's star Michael B. Jordan also won the Boston Online Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor and a Breakout Performance award from the African-American Film Critics Association, and Tessa Thompson won a Best Supporting Actress award from the African-American Film Critics Association as well. Sylvester Stallone won a Best Supporting Actor award from the Golden Globes as well as the Best Supporting Actor award from the National Board of Review and the Boston Online Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor; he also received his third Academy Award nomination, this time for Best Supporting Actor. The film has also won one of the "Best or Top 10 Films of the Year" awards from the National Board of Review, the Boston Online Film Critics Association and the African-American Film Critics Association.

Director Ryan Coogler with Kevin Feige and some of the cast of Marvel's Black Panther speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International.

Black PantherEdit

In January 2016, Coogler signed on to co-write and direct the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Panther, which will star Chadwick Boseman as the titular character and is scheduled for release in 2018.[26][27] Michael B. Jordan will appear as the main antagonist Erik Killmonger, making it Coogler's third collaboration with the actor.[28] Filming began in January 2017.[29]

Other works and future projectsEdit

Coogler also served as an executive producer on the ESPN 30 for 30 film The Day the Series Stopped, about Game Three of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, when an earthquake shook the Bay Area to its core.

In January 2013, Coogler said he was working on a graphic novel and a young adult novel about undisclosed subject matter.[30]

Coogler will also work with frequent collaborator Michael B. Jordan for a fourth time in the upcoming film Wrong Answer, based on the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.[31]

Personal lifeEdit

Coogler has worked since age 21 as a counselor with incarcerated youth at San Francisco's Juvenile Hall, following in the footsteps of his father, who has long shared the same occupation.[32]

He is married to Zinzi Evans.[33]


Directorial workEdit

Year Title Also credited as Notes
Director Producer Writer
2013 Fruitvale Station Yes N/A Yes
2015 Creed Yes N/A Yes
2018 Black Panther Yes N/A Yes

Short filmsEdit

  • Locks (2009)
  • Fig (2011)
  • Gap (2011)
  • The Sculptor (2011)

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2013 Austin Film Critics Association Best First Film Fruitvale Station Won
Boston Online Film Critics Association Best New Filmmaker Won
Cannes Film Festival Prix de l'Avenir d'Un Certain Regard Won
Grand Prix d'Un Certain Regard Nominated
Caméra d'Or Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Filmmaker Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Best Breakthrough Nominated
Gotham Awards Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award Won
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Breakout Filmmaker of the Year Won
Nantucket Film Festival Vimeo Award for Best Writer/Director Won
National Board of Review Best Directorial Debut Won
New York Film Critics Online Best Debut Director Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Breakthrough Performance Behind the Camera Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Marlon Riggs Award Won
Sundance Film Festival Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic Won
Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Dramatic Won
2014 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Director Nominated
Outstanding Screenplay, Adapted or Original Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Breakthrough Film Artist Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best First Feature Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture Nominated
Satellite Awards Honorary Satellite Award Won
2015 African-American Film Critics Association Best Director Creed Nominated
Indiana Film Journalists Association Best Director Nominated
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Best Director Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award Won
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture Won
Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture Won
New York Film Critics Online Best Director Nominated
2016 Empire Awards Best Director Nominated


  1. ^ a b "Ryan Kyle Coogler, Born 05/23/1986 in California". California Births Index. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Anne (2013-01-27). "Sundance Awards: Both Ryan Coogler Drama 'Fruitvale,' Doc 'Blood Brother' Nab Grand Jury and Audience Awards UPDATED". Indiewire. Retrieved 2016-06-02. 
  3. ^ "How 'Creed' Director Ryan Coogler Brought Rocky Back to Life". TheWrap. 2015-12-21. Retrieved 2016-06-02. 
  4. ^ a b c Newhouse, Dave (December 17, 2007). "Filmmaker avoids tragic life plotline". Inside Bay Area. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  5. ^ Goodman, Amy (January 25, 2013). "Fruitvale: Ryan Coogler's Debut Film on Bay Area Police Slaying of Oscar Grant the Buzz of Sundance". Democracy Now. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  6. ^ Grady, Pam (July 7, 2013). "Ryan Coogler and the 'Fruitvale Station' effect". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Ryan Coogler". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  8. ^ Zakarin, Jordan. "The Unbelievable Story Of Ryan Coogler, Who Made The Most Important Movie Of The Year". BuzzFeed Entertainment. Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Morrison, Pat (January 19, 2013). "'Fruitvale Station's' Ryan Coogler, the message maker". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  10. ^ Pashelka, Curtis, and Stiglich, Joe (March 4, 2004). "End of SMC football saddens prep coaches". Contra Costa Times. Archived from the original on August 12, 2004. Retrieved April 18, 2017. 
  11. ^ "25 ESPN.cpm: Ryan Coogler Stats". Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  12. ^ "25 New Faces of Independent Film: Ryan Coogler". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ Rhodes, Joe (June 30, 2013). "A Man's Death, a Career's Birth". The New York Times. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike (January 21, 2013). "Sundance: The Weinstein Company Acquires 'Fruitvale'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ Makinen, Julie (January 26, 2013). "Sundance 2013: 'Fruitvale' wins Grand Jury Prize". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  16. ^ "2013 Official Selection". Cannes. April 18, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Cannes: 'The Missing Picture' Wins Un Certain Regard Prize". Hollywood Reporter. May 26, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  18. ^ Begley, Sarah (December 5, 2013). "These Are the 30 People Under 30 Changing the World Read more: Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler". Time. Retrieved December 25, 2013. 
  19. ^ Jordan, Michael B.; Diaz, Melonie; Spencer, Octavia; Durand, Kevin (2013-07-26), Fruitvale Station, retrieved 2017-01-23 
  20. ^ "Fruitvale Station (2013) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2017-01-23. 
  21. ^ Fruitvale Station, retrieved 2017-01-23 
  22. ^ Kroll, Justin (July 24, 2013). "'Fruitvale Station' Team Eyeing 'Rocky' Spin-Off 'Creed' With MGM". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2015. Sylvester Stallone is on board to reprise his role as Rocky Balboa, with Coogler penning the script along with Aaron Covington. Deadline Hollywood broke the news. 
  23. ^ Buckley, Cara (October 28, 2015). "Michael B. Jordan Gives Millennials Their 'Rocky' With 'Creed'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 29, 2015. 
  24. ^ Fleming, Mike (July 24, 2013). "'Fruitvale Station' Duo Ryan Coogler And Michael B. Jordan Team With Sly Stallone On MGM 'Rocky' Spinoff 'Creed'". Retrieved July 24, 2013. 
  25. ^ Josh Rottenberg (November 24, 2015). "Getting the 'Rocky' spinoff 'Creed' made was a real underdog story for director Ryan Coogler". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 25, 2015. 
  26. ^ Mark Strom, "Ryan Coogler to direct Marvel's 'Black Panther'", Marvel, January 11, 2016.
  27. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (April 11, 2016). "'Black Panther': Kevin Feige Reveals Ryan Coogler Is Co-Writing; Talks Filming Dates". Collider. 
  28. ^ "Michael B. Jordan Joins Marvel's 'Black Panther' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-10-19. 
  29. ^ Strom, Marc (January 26, 2017). "Marvel Studios Begins Production On 'Black Panther'". Archived from the original on January 26, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  30. ^ Labrecque, Jeff (January 26, 2013). "Sundance 2013: 'Fruitvale' director Ryan Coogler on the life and death of Oscar Grant". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  31. ^ Dockterman, Eliana (27 November 2015). "Creed Director Ryan Coogler on His Chemistry With Michael B. Jordan". Time. Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  32. ^ "15 Things You Didn't Know About 'Fruitvale' Director Ryan Coogler". ARC. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  33. ^ Deeeahn (June 6, 2013). "EVENT PICS: 'FRUITVALE' CAST ATTENDS 3RD ANNUAL 'CELEBRATE SUNDANCE INSTITUTE' IN LA". Retrieved July 20, 2013. 

External linksEdit