Though it is indisputable Ryan Coogler is worthy of being a member of the voting body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the seasoned filmmaker says he has no interest in joining the group.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, the Judas and the Black Messiah co-producer explained why he declined an invitation to join the board when they came calling in 2016. To him, it’s a bit weird to pitch art forms like film against each other as he’s a lover of the craft.
“I don’t buy into this versus that, or ‘this movie wasn’t good enough to make this list,” he said. “I love movies. … For me, that’s good enough. If I’m going to be a part of organizations, they’re going to be labor unions, where we’re figuring out how to take care of each other’s families and health insurance. But I know that these things bring exposure.”
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That notwithstanding, the 34-year-old, together with his fellow Judas and the Black Messiah co-producers, Charles D. King, and Shaka King, could make history at this year’s Oscars if they are able to scoop the Best Picture award as they’re the first Black producers to ever be nominated in that category. Though a notable milestone, the trio told The Hollywood Reporter the feeling is bittersweet. Shaka likened it to his childhood neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn getting better grocery supply when it started getting gentrified back in the day.
“You could now get fresh produce walking distance from the crib, and I remember being happy about that. But a part of me felt angry because that meant that for all those decades, when it was just Black people living there, our bodies weren’t worth sustaining with good food,” the 41-year-old said.
“I think about, ‘Why did it take 93 years for there to be three Black producers nominated for an Academy Award?’ Is it because there weren’t three Black people willing to produce movies? Probably not. Was it because we didn’t have the access to the kind of capital to make a big, sweeping studio feature? Maybe a little bit. Was it because we made that stuff and they didn’t recognize it? Maybe a little bit. But none of it feels good. So it’s bittersweet.”