If you haven't heard about Marvel's ridiculously anticipated movie, Black Panther, you're either lying or living under a rock. Just in time for Black History Month, Black Panther released at midnight last night and the reviews are already outstanding. We all know about the movie's leading actors Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, and Forest Whitaker, but do you know about the creative genius behind the film?

Meet Ryan Coogler. At just 31 years old, the Black Panther director is making waves in Hollywood by portraying importance stories of blackness through film. Here are a couple of takeaways from his Hot97 interview:

1. Don’t Underestimate The Power of a Peer's Story

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Coogler’s ascension in pop culture began by directing the critically-acclaimed movie “Fruitvale Station”, a movie depicting the tragic moments leading up to the death of Oscar Grant. Grant, a 22 year old African-American, just so happen to be from Oakland California, the same city Ryan Coogler was born and raised. To prove this big world is a lot smaller than you think, Grant did a little time in jail, where he befriended a cousin of Coogler. After recognizing how close to home this incident was, a spark lit up in Coogler to give the story perspective, and “Fruitvale Station” was born.

2. It’s Ok to have a Plan B

You here the old say - "If you have a Plan B, you’ll be distracted from Plan A”; well in this case, Coogler’s Plan B turned out to be his blessing. Going to college on a scholarship for football, Coogler was recommended to look into writing scripts by a professor of his, after writing a piece that caught her eye. Coogler took heed, enrolled in film school, then worked his way to stardom.

3. Respect the Power of Women

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From listening to his professor’s advice to start writing scripts, to meeting his wife in film school - the proof is in the pudding. Coogler also made sure that every woman role in “Black Panther” had a sense of power to it. This is one of the reason this movie will go down in history, as will the woman to star in it.

 

4. Always Be Prepared

During film school, Coogler was presented the opportunity meet with Forest Whitaker after another impressive piece. During the meeting, Whitaker asked to see any scripts Coogler was working on. Due to his preparation, Coogler showed up with the first draft of “Black Panther” - in which he states Whitaker “gave it the green light” immediately. Work hard, prepare harder!

5. Hold On To Your Passions and Know Your Roots

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His passion and understanding of music in the 90s led him to recognizing he could apply the same techniques that made him fall in love with the music of the 90’s, to the aesthetic that he approaches his film’s with. Ryan Coogler is from Oakland, California, where the ‘Black Panther’ movement originated - now he’s directing the Marvel movie “Black Panther”. He's now able to use this film as a tool to connect the African diaspora with the motherland.

6. Sacrifices. Sacrifices. Sacrifices

In order to get the film process rolling, Coogler had to tap into tunnel-vision mode, focusing on every aspect of the Marvel universe. In order to create a film that could potentially affect generations, Coogler had to sacrifice any time that didn’t have anything to do with the “Black Panther” film.