Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate these various personalities with us.
Morgan Cooper is a Los Angeles-based writer and director with a unique voice, clear vision, and a passion for every aspect of storytelling. Cooper’s influences range from fine art, jazz, and hip-hop, to the works of photographers Roy DeCarava and Gordon Parks. His Midwest roots and wide array of experiences growing up in Kansas City, Mo., also resonate throughout his work.
Having traveled extensively as a commercial director/DP, Cooper is now focused on what he loves most: narrative filmmaking with substance and purpose; telling the stories of those who are unrepresented, underrepresented, and misrepresented in film. He approaches every project with positive energy, curiosity, empathy, and an open mind, and wholeheartedly believes in the importance of life-long learning.
Morgan is committed to combining art with purpose by using his voice as a filmmaker to positively impact society. He believes in giving back through service and mentorship, and currently coaches six aspiring filmmakers.
When he looks back someday on his career, Morgan hopes he will have helped inspire the next generation of young black filmmakers to fearlessly tell their stories. Cooper is represented by CAA for television and film, and by Darren Aronofsky’s company, Chromista, for commercial work.
What did You Originally Want to be When You Grow Up? When I was younger, I wanted to be a basketball player when I got older. I didn’t find my passion for filmmaking until after I graduated high school.
How did You Get into Filmmaking? My filmmaking career started in the line of a Best Buy on my 18th birthday in 2010. I waited in line in the freezing cold for 3 hours to buy the Canon T2i DSLR on Black Friday. I spent every dollar I had, plus $100 that my dad loaned me. That purchase changed my life and jumpstarted my career.
Who Were Your Mentors? The most important mentor I’ve ever had is Joyce Tsang, a cinematographer based in Portland. Working with Joyce introduced me to advanced lighting and camera techniques, which provided a strong foundation for my growth as a filmmaker. She’s one of the toughest, most fearless filmmakers I’ve ever known.
What is Your Biggest Achievement? Inspiring and encouraging people in my community through my work will always be my greatest achievement; at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that’s real. Awards and accolades are nice, but inspiration and encouragement can change lives.
What is Your Biggest Disappointment? Donald Trump becoming president. Terrible.
Name Your Biggest Pet Peeves? One-sided conversations…. And small dogs that constantly yap (get it? Pet peeve?)
Predictions for the Film Industry Over the Next Decade: I think the industry is slowly changing for the better. A lot of the toxic elements associated with the film business are beginning to wane, but there’s still so much work to do. Something I’m really excited about is seeing so many new voices from different backgrounds telling stories that we’ve never seen on screen. We’ve got to keep the pedal to the floor and keep pushing the industry forward. We can’t wait for permission! Viola Davis.
Name a Job You had that Would Surprise People: I worked at Subway for two weeks in high school. I got fired for making one too many free sandwiches for my friends.
Who Plays You in Your Life Story? Michael B. Jordan, no question.
What do You Wish You had More Time for? I wish I had more time to shoot hoops. I really miss basketball; in fact, I’m going to set my intentions right now as I write this: I’m will find time to shoot hoops soon. Thanks Reel 360!
What Drives You to Create? My community and my family constantly inspire me to create. They keep me grounded and inspired to push myself in the craft.