In a new interview with the New York Times, Coogler and his department heads were front and center, as the director revealed what propelled him to select a large number of women to fulfill major leaderships roles on set, like director of photography Rachel Morrison, production designer Hannah Beachler, and costume designer Ruth E. Carter.
“In each one of the circumstances where I’ve worked with these incredible filmmakers that happen to be women, they were the best people for the job,” he said, mentioning that he doesn’t “get it” when directors choose not to hire women for behind-the-scenes camera jobs.
Morrison shared with NYT that some women on set “liked to joke that we were [Coogler’s] Dora Milaje,” a reference to the women warriors characterized in Black Panther.
Carter—who, in the past, was the costume designer for Spike Lee’s 1988 movie School Daze—applauded Coogler for creating an environment where women flourished.
“We cut past any of the normal bureaucracy of male dominance, where they may want to overtake the conversation or need to be leader of the idea,” she said to the Times. “You don’t have to be overbearing to get your point to him—he’s open in that way. With that calmness and humility, the gate opens: ‘Hello, I have this to offer.’”
“We edited our films across the hall from each other for 8 months,” she wrote, prior to seeing Black Panther. “We talked in our edit bays, on walks around the lot. About our films, our dreams. Tonight, his comes true. On my way to the #BlackPanther premiere with a full heart for my fam, director extraordinaire #RyanCoogler!”
Black Panther was a huge sensation and has become the highest-grossing superhero film ever in North America. The film has been praised for spotlighting the African Diaspora, black empowerment, and for having a mostly black cast. Coogler relying on a department largely made of women makes the film that much better.