Grew up in Richmond, CA in the East Bay area north of Oakland, CA. He attended nearby Saint Mary's College on a football scholarship, then transferred to Sacramento State College. Later he was a graduate student in the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.
Has worked as a security guard, and also with imprisoned youth at San Francisco's Juvenile Hall.
Ryan cast his brother Keenan Coogler in his breakout debut film Fruitvale Station (2013). And like Ryan, Keenan was also a standout football player in a Bay Area college.
Directed 1 actor to an Oscar nomination: Sylvester Stallone, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Creed (2015).
Member of the 'Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' (AMPAS) since 2016.
Personal Quotes (3)
[re making Fruitvale Station (2013)] We shot here [BART station] for three nights after the station was closed, Everybody was there with us: BART employees, safety monitors, train drivers, all the cast members and crew. Some of us would pray; others would just keep to themselves. The energy of it hit everybody. It was the hardest thing I've done in my life, making this movie. Having to see [real-life hero] Oscar die so many times. And having to see the people react to it. That never gets easy, man. Never.
[re Oscar Grant's murder] It really caused an identity crisis here in the Bay Area because we think of ourselves as the most progressive place, the most diverse place, the most accepting place in the country. I grew up with white friends, Asian friends - Vietnamese, Chinese, Pacific Islanders. I had Hispanic friends, not just Mexican friends, but Guatemalan friends, Honduran friends, and we knew the difference, you know? So when we saw that happen to Oscar, and we saw it on video, it was like the wind getting knocked out of us. I was questioning who we were as a community.
[on 'Black Panther'] Obviously, the superhero is who puts you in the seat. That's who you want to come out on top. But I'll be damned if the villains aren't cool too. They have to be able to stand up to the hero and have you saying, "Man, I don't know if the hero's going to make it out of this."