Filmmaker and producer Ryan Coogler introduced Angela Bassett at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where she won the Montecito Award for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
For almost 15 minutes, Coogler explained how Bassett was influential to him when he was just a five-year-old boy watching “Boyz n the Hood” with his father in 1991. From that movie to Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” to “What’s Love Got To Do With It” to “Waiting to Exhale” – Coogler said watching Bassett in those movies helped him grow an appreciation for the arts.
“I didn’t understand it then, I didn’t know I wanted to be a filmmaker,” Coogler said. “But Angela was representing something. What was it? The truth.”
Coogler added, “The truth is the well that we pull from as artists, as communicators, as people. Science tells us that life started on the continent of Africa. I like to think we all came from a Black woman.”
Coogler said forever, Black women were under-represented in media and film, and as a kid, he saw Bassett’s performances breaking through those barriers.
Later in life, after Coogler became a professional filmmaker, he saw Bassett at the “Creed” premiere in 2015. He said he didn’t know why she was there but that the two-time Academy Award nominee hung out with his family and told his grandmother that she wanted him to hire her.
“I got my next movie, and clearly, I did take her up on that,” Coogler said, referring to “Black Panther.” “Working with her on that film was a revelation.”
Coogler added, “Angela is great at what she does. And I’ve learned from my time as an athlete and my time being a working artist that greatness has to have a few ingredients.”
Coogler described how Bassett was great in her own right and continues striving to improve. He then reflected on how they had to work on the second Black Panther movie following the death of Chadwick Boseman and how he called on her to be great in difficult circumstances.
Watch the full tribute in the exclusive video above.