Ryan Coogler

by Ava DuVernay
Williams+Hirakawa for TIME

In Black Panther, Queen Ramonda looks upon her son T’Challa and delivers a proclamation: “It is your time.” Millions upon millions of moviegoers around the world have proclaimed the same to the film’s mastermind, Ryan Coogler. We gaze upon him with the same pride, the same hope, the same respect.

What kind of person attracts unprecedented acclaim, the likes of which has never been seen in the history of cinema? A person with extraordinary talent, yes. But also one with a spirit of integrity. One deserving of this light. Ryan Coogler is that person. And it is indeed his time.

When I think of Ryan, I think of a moving video that he organized among our friends to comfort me when my father passed away. Of his smile when he married his high school sweetheart, the wonderful Zinzi. Of Blackout for Human Rights, a grassroots organization that he founded and works with while making films. Integrity.

Ryan will forever be known for Black Panther and so much more. At only 31, what other stories will he tell us? And aren’t we lucky to be able to watch. Not just his films. But such an exquisite life being well lived. If you ever need a reminder that this present moment is your time too, look no further than Ryan for inspiration. He’s easy to find. He’s the one with the light around him, shining strong and bright and warm.

DuVernay is an Oscar-nominated director and producer

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