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“Don’t wait. Do”: ‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler on losing Chadwick Boseman and inspiring others

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On Monday night, Black Panther franchise writer-director Ryan Coogler walked in the footsteps of other cinema legends, including Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee.

The filmmaker gave the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ annual David Lean lecture in London. According to Variety, it was an emotional journey through his career, and those who inspired him, including the late Chadwick Boseman.

“I like to start off every movie that I do with the question,” Coogler reportedly said. “A question that burns … a question I’m afraid to ask.”

Wakanda Forever was no exception, Ryan explained. “How do you move on when your very existence, your very identity, was defined by another person and you lose them?”

Boseman died in August 2020 at 43 years old, after keeping his battle with colon cancer secret to all but a handful of people.

“I was a director without a lead actor, tasked to make a film about a hero when we’d just lost ours,” an emotional Coogler said.

Coogler also spoke of losing a mentor in John Singleton, who died in 2019 after suffering a stroke. The Boyz n The Hood director was once an up-and-coming Black filmmaker himself and sent Coogler a special note when Creed hit theaters.

It included a photo of the tickets Singleton had purchased for Coogler’s first major release. “And he said, ‘This is a ritual, we always do this for each other,'” Coogler recalled, speaking of the community of Black filmmakers. “Reading that earlier today, I realized what a gift that message was.”

Coogler in turn passed on some words of inspiration. “All of you that aspire to communicate with film language … there’s no time like the present. Make that movie. Hit that audition … Go, go, go, go, go, go, go. Don’t wait. Do.”

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