Directors on Directors: Ryan Coogler + Gina Prince-Bythewood


by Angelique Jackson | Variety

Gina Prince-Bythewood — one of the most successful Black women directors in Hollywood and the visionary behind “Love & Basketball,” “Beyond the Lights” and “The Old Guard” — took a special date to the world premiere of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”: her teenage son Toussaint.

“Seeing you there, knowing it’s a movie about motherhood more than anything, I got really emotional,” Ryan Coogler, the director who shepherded the superhero sequel, tells Prince-Bythewood. “I was trying hard to hold it in when I saw you both.”

The premiere in November was already an emotional affair — as cast and crew paid tribute to the franchise’s late star Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 — and took place just weeks after Prince-Bythewood released her latest hit film, “The Woman King.” The action epic, like “Wakanda Forever,” put Black protagonists at the center of a genre that has historically featured white heroes.

“It was really beautiful to be there to see the work — the way you honored Chadwick but also how you continued the story,” Prince-Bythewood tells Coogler. “I love the fact that in that huge platform you were able to tell such a personal story and have such depth about what grief really means.”

The two directors trade war stories and examine how their movies, both of which unfold in African kingdoms (one imagined and one reclaimed), manage to walk the line between art and populism.