Ryan Coogler to participate in USC School of Cinematic Arts commencement

"To have him share his wisdom with our graduating class will be very meaningful," said Dean Elizabeth M. Daley

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Black Panther director Ryan Coogler and filmmaker James Ivory are set to headline the virtual graduation ceremony for the USC School of Cinematic Arts on May 13.

Coogler graduated from the university in 2011 with a Master of Fine Arts degree in production while Ivory, class of 1957, earned his MA in cinema. Per The Hollywood Reporter, both participated in Q&A sessions ahead of the virtual ceremony, excerpts of which will be presented as part of the commencement program. Ivory will also be presented with the Mary Pickford Alumni Award, which is given to women and men of USC “whose extraordinary achievements bring special distinction to the university and to the industry.” 

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“Ryan Coogler is one of the most respected and visionary filmmakers in the industry today and to have him share his wisdom and experiences with our graduating class will be very meaningful especially after this challenging year,” said Dean Elizabeth M. Daley. “We are honored to present James Ivory, an iconic director, producer and screenwriter, with the Mary Pickford Alumni Award. His body of work sets him apart for its breadth and diverse themes and no one is more deserving.”

Ryan Coogler thegrio.com
Director Ryan Coogler attends the ‘Black Panther’ BFI preview screening held at BFI Southbank on February 9, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

The School of Cinematic Arts will host an in-person ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on May 16th.

Coogler, meanwhile, is gearing up for production on Black Panther 2, and the process has not been easy following the loss of his leading man, Chadwick Boseman

As theGRIO previously reported, Coogler recently opened up on Jemele Hill’s Unbothered podcast about how difficult it is working on the sequel without Boseman, who died last August after a private battle with colon cancer. He was 43.

“I’m still currently going through it. One thing that I’ve learned in my short or long time on this Earth is that it’s very difficult to have perspective on something while you’re going through it. This is one of the more profound things that I’ve gone through in my life, having to be a part of keeping this project going without this particular person who is like the glue who held it together,” per The Jasmine Brand.

Boseman starred in the blockbuster as the beloved leader King T’Challa of the fictional African nation of Wakanda.

“You have a professional life, you’ve got a personal life,” Coogler told Hill. “Personal life, I’m going to say that when you work in something that you love, those things blend, they come together. I’m trying to find a work-life balance. But I’m not there yet, so this is without a question the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my professional life.”

Read More: Ryan Coogler turned down Oscars membership, saying he doesn’t ‘buy into’ awards

But Coogler added that he felt “incredibly motivated that I got to spend time with him. You spend your life hearing about people like him. For this individual, who is an ancestor now, I was there for it. It’s such an incredible privilege that fills you up as much as it knocks you out. So often as Black people, we have to pick up the pieces after loss.”

Production for the second film is set to begin this summer. The current synopsis for the project reads as follows: Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will continue to explore the incomparable world of Wakanda. and all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film. 

Written and directed by Ryan Coogler, the film will be released on July 8, 2022.

*theGRIO’s Keydra Manns contributed to this report.

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