An old interview featuring Black Panther director Ryan Coogler from when he was 21 years old resurfaced online Wednesday, and it's fascinating.
In it, the then aspiring director told the East Bay Times about his dreams for a career in film and how he hoped to someday see a movie of his own playing in his local theatre.
We all know how that turned out.
In the interview from 2007, the young Coogler attributed his success to his parents and lauded their ability to raise him to be knowledgeable of street life and to understand the importance of staying far away from it. Having grown up in Oakland, California, Coogler said he saw many of his friends engage in street activity, but he never faults those friends for their actions. Instead, Coogler blames the environment in which they grew up.
“It comes from the intense poverty that we experience as a city,” Coogler told the East Bay Times “and the conditions my friends were living in. A lot of them didn’t have mothers or fathers. It’s tough to succeed.”
Coogler considered himself lucky enough to have both a mother and father who looked out for him. Though he credits his parents as strict, Coogler said he understands his upbringing was necessary in order for it to be fruitful. When speaking on his father’s parenting, Coogler said:
“He was and still is (a disciplinarian),” Ryan told the East Bay Times. “It was difficult to accept at first, but I did. I thought I knew everything. As I got older, I started realizing what was going on more, and I saw what my father was talking about come to light, and it was the right thing.”
He continued to express gratitude.
“The reason I’m here now, standing proud, are my mom and dad. Take them away and my story could be one you hear all the time,” Coogler said. “My parents went to college, so I went to college. But if my dad was a drug dealer, I would have been a drug dealer.”
Coogler discussed his dreams of having his movies receive world-wide recognition, and possibly winning an Oscar; it's safe to say he is well on his way. The 21-year-old Coogler also pledged to one day create an opportunity for others to grow with him, and raise together:
“My goal is to start a (film) business in this area, something that can employ people,” he said of Oakland. “It will be something the people can point to and kids can see it, saying ‘I can do that,’ instead of doing things that are glaring to the environment.”
Black Panther, whose opening scene took place in Oakland, has become the fifth highest earning movie during it's opening weekend, and pulled in as Marvel’s second largest money-maker after The Avengers.
Coogler has become an inspiration not only to Oakland, but to all young people everywhere.