Rising filmmaker Shaka King made a big splash in Hollywood by directing and co-writing the 2021 biopic Judas and the Black Messiah, a biographical crime drama film about the betrayal of Fred Hampton by FBI informant William O'Neal. The effort earned several recognitions, including six Academy Awards nominations, including Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture, the 2022 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture.
King beat out several equally talented directors and their respective films, including Denzel Washington’s A Journal for Jordan, Jeymes Samuel’s The Harder They Fall, Reinaldo Marcus Greens’ King Richard, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick… Boom! In honor of this year’s celebration of Black Hollywood, we’re looking back at some of our favorite past winners of the esteemed category.
Antonie Fuqua / 2015
Antoine Fuqua made his film debut in 1998 with The Replacement Killers. Still, his critical breakthrough would happen three years later with the premiere of his award-winning 2001 crime thriller Training Day featuring Denzel Washington in the role that earned him his first Academy Award for “Best Actor.”
Fuqua’s directorial resume includes several major films across genres, such as the Jamie Foxx lead comedy Bait, the 2013 action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, the sports drama Southpaw, and more. Fuqua’s latest work includes Emancipation, starring Will Smith, and producing Netflix’s Bullet Train.
Ryan Coogler 2016 + 2019
Award-winning writer and director Ryan Coogler made his feature-length debut with the independent film biographical drama Fruitvale Station starring Michael B. Jordan. Since then, the California native has co-written and directed the sports drama Creed with frequent collaborator Jordan. However, Coogler is perhaps best known for directing the Marvel Studio blockbuster smash Black Panther, starring the late Chadwick Boseman, and the superhero film’s sequel Wakanda Forever.
Jordan Peele / 2018
Unlike his fellow winner, Jordan Peele initially found success as a comedian on the popular FOX sketch series Mad TV in 2003 before creating his own series with Mad TV costar Keegan-Michael Key on their sketch series Key & Peele, from 2012 to 2015. The collaboration produced two Primetime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award.
Peele’s directorial debut came two years later with his horror film Get Out, starring British actor Daniel Kaluuya. The movie was critically acclaimed and is regarded as one of the best films of the 21st century. The filmmaker has been applauded for taking space in a genre not often occupied by Black creatives with subsequent projects like Nope, Us, and many more.
Watch the NAACP Image Awards live on Saturday, February 25, 2023, at 8:00 pm ET/PT on BET.