Thirty-year-old writer-director Steven Caple, Jr. has some big shoes to fill helming Creed II, the sequel to 2015 Ryan Coogler knockout film Creed. But that’s not to say the USC School of Cinematic Arts graduate doesn’t have his own supersized footprint in the industry. Here are 8 things to know about the Creed II director and his work.
1) He’s a Cleveland, Ohio native.
Born and raised. Later, he graduated from John Marshall High School then earned a B.A. in film studies and marketing from Baldwin Wallace University, which is also located in Ohio.
2) He went to USC with Ryan Coogler.
Much like Coogler and his longtime film composer Ludwig Göransson, Coogler and Caple Jr were friends and classmates back in film school.
3) He almost turned down Creed II.
In an interview with Vulture he shared his nervousness about jumping onto a successful Black franchise with a quick turnaround time. After he was assured by Coogler and Sylvester Stallone that he could put his stamp on the film, he agreed to take the job.
4) He married his high school sweetheart, Ciara Whaley, in 2016.
The two first met in driving school in Cleveland. “When people think of proposing, they think of a hot-air balloon or a perfect sunset,” he told Cleveland Magazine. “Ten years after we met, I proposed to Ciara at that driving school.”
5) The Land was Caple’s feature film debut.
Caple premiered the Nas-produced film at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Centered on four inner-city teens in Cleveland using street life to fund their pro-skateboarding aspirations, the film received critical acclaim.
6) Caple won HBO’s 2013 Short Film Competition.
His student film A Different Tree earned him the accolade. The 15-minute short follows Pearl, an 8-year-old who seeks to connect with her biological father through a class assignment to draw a family tree.
7) Caple directed two episodes of Grown-ish during season one.
Caple was at the helm of episodes titled “Back & Forth” and “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.” The black-ish spin-off stars Yara Shahidi, Trevor Jackson and Chloe and Halle Bailey.
8) Caple’s latest project just sold at auction for 7 figures.
Set to produce alongside Creed II co-writer Juel Taylor and Tony Rettenmaier, Caple will direct the onscreen adaptation of the short story ByAll, based in Los Angeles in the future where the LAPD doesn’t exist. Eleven studios participated in the auction to buy the project with Caple attached to direct, but Legendary won the project with a 7-figure bid.
9) Caple was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Hollywood & Entertainment in 2017 Forbes.
He was recognized for The Land, his series work and his forthcoming project based on Emmitt Till for HBO.
10) He’s penned a six-part HBO miniseries on Emmett Till.
The series is based on the 2015 book Emmett Till: The Murder that Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement. Jay-Z and Will Smith are named as producers of this project that is still currently in development.
Creed II is out Nov. 20.