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Three Life Lessons You Can Learn From 'Black Panther' Director Ryan Coogler

Three Life Lessons You Can Learn From 'Black Panther' Director Ryan Coogler


Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images 

We're in the middle of awards season and while Black Panther is going to be a top contender across the board, there’s one name we can’t get enough of.

Ryan Coogler.

The 32-year-old, who headed up one of the biggest movies in box office history, is easily a fan favorite but what makes him so special is not just what he brings to the big screen. It’s what he does when the camera’s not on him, that inspires us to strive for excellence. No matter your goals for this year, we can all learn something from the director’s drive, determination, and journey.

Here’s three intentions we collected from Ryan Coogler that can help set you up for success in 2019.

1. It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s about taking what you’ve learned and applying it to your life.

Photo: Samantha Okazaki

Ryan originally got his start as an athlete. For The Undefeated, Kelley L. Carter dug deep into the director’s journey - from his childhood in North Oakland to playing college football opposite Marshawn Lynch - and his sports background prepared him for the work that he’s doing now. 

"A lot of the things I’ve learned, I learned from playing football. "I’m 31 years old … this is a high-intensity job. You’re responsible for a lot of money. You’re responsible for a lot of people’s livelihoods, and more importantly, you’re responsible for the audience’s dreams and expectations. There’s no way I’d be able to do this job if I hadn’t had the experience I have from playing organized sports. I’d be a different person.” [Read the full interview here.]

2. You can be successful while honoring your history and your culture, even if others don’t immediately understand it.

Photo: Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros. Pictures

In an Indie Wire interview for the first 'Creed' movie, Ryan shared that his father was a big Rocky fan - undoubtedly impacting his career. With writer and filmmaker Nijla Mu’min, Ryan also revealed that family, relationships, and community were strong themes that were present inside and outside of the movie.

“I think that the biggest thing was just moving there, and getting to know the people, and putting some of the local folks in the movie and asking them questions and letting the city talk to us and dictate things about the script.”

The movie would go on to be the most successful movies in the Rocky franchise history. [Read the full interview here.]

Photo: Marvel Studios 

3. Dedication and commitment to your work doesn’t have to feel difficult - you can enjoy the process while you’re in it.

Nothing speaks to Ryan’s work ethic more than his approach to making 'Black Panther'. From taking his first trip to Africa to working eighteen hour days, we learned from The Washington Post that Ryan’s enthusiasm, passion, and leadership helped to fuel not just his own work, but the work of his team.

Every time Ryan called me he’d say, 'Ruth, did I wake you up?'"the legendary costume designer Ruth E. Carter recalled to writer David Betancourt. “We’re both so around the clock. He’s just a sensitive person. He’s a human being. And that’s what comes out first. We’re trying to hit our mark and get to these deadlines. [But] he makes you take pause and really see things through a real honest lens.” [Read the full interview here.]

No matter what you’re building this year, you can be sure that Ryan Coogler is an incredible example of what it looks like to work from the heart, dream big from small starts, and make an impact on our communities.