By Variety Staff | Variety

Former Journo Turns to Superhero

As the man behind Marvel and Netflix’s upcoming comicbook series “Luke Cage,” Cheo Hodari Coker has the distinction of being the first African-American showrunner on a series starring a black superhero — a responsibility that isn’t lost on him.

Coker’s grandfather, a Tuskegee Airman with the 100th Fighter Squadron, imparted some words of wisdom that have always stuck with him. “Ultimately, regardless of race, you were a pilot — but at the same time, you knew that there would be much greater consequences for you f–king it up,” Coker recalls. “The pressure is making sure that (the show) gets off the ground correctly, not just because of the fans, but because if I mess it up, someone else might not want to take the chance.”

Failure seems unlikely. Coker was writing for magazines like Vibe before graduating Stanford, describing himself as “a hip-hop version of Cameron Crowe — I’d skip classes and hang out with Ice Cube.” He longed to emulate his subjects instead of writing about them.

Now that he’s the boss, Coker says playing in the Marvel sandbox is a dream come true for a kid who grew up reading “X-Men.”

“Some jobs, you pull yourself out of bed. This is a job where they have to tell me, ‘Go to sleep.’ It’s work, but it’s not a job.” — Laura Prudom

Age: 43

Show: “Marvel’s Luke Cage” (Netflix)

Reps: CAA, the Shuman Co., Fox Rothschild

TV inspiration: “Courtney Kemp Agboh and Scott Gimple are particularly inspiring to me, because we were all in the same showrunners training class.”


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