F. Gary Gray
Felix Gary Gray (born July 17, 1969) is an American filmmaker, music video director, and actor. Gray directed Friday, Set It Off, The Negotiator, and Straight Outta Compton, as well as the remake of The Italian Job. Gray was born in New York. He began his career in 1989 when he appeared uncredited in the satire comedy film Major League. Three years later, he directed the music video for Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day." The video is a literal adaptation of the lyrics. He would go on to direct subsequent videos for Ice Cube, as well as artists such as Cypress Hill, Outkast, Dr. Dre, and Queen Latifah. At 24, Gray directed his first film, the urban comedy Friday with rapper-producer Ice Cube and Chris Tucker. Next he directed the film, Set It Off, with Jada Pinkett and Queen Latifah. He then went on to direct The Negotiator. The film starred Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey and Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson, and earned Gray both Best Film and Best Director awards at the 1998 Acapulco Film Festival. Gray is also known for The Italian Job, an action-thriller starring Academy Award winner Charlize Theron and Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg. Gray garnered the Best Director award at the 2004 Black American Film Festival for his work on the film, which surpassed the $100 million mark in the domestic box office. His next film was A Man Apart, a violent action thriller starring Vin Diesel. He would later direct Be Cool, an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel of the same name. The John Travolta vehicle was a critical flop, but made $95.2 million worldwide. His next film was the thriller Law Abiding Citizen, starring Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. Scripted by Kurt Wimmer, it grossed over $100 million worldwide. Gary is also responsible for directing many music videos. He has worked with artists like TLC, Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Babyface, and Jay-Z, among others. Gray received The Ivan Dixon Award of Achievement from the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center and was named one of the “50 Best and Brightest African Americans Under 40” by Black Enterprise magazine. He was honored by the African American Film Critics Association with their 2004 Special Achievement Award and was recognized by the Artist Empowerment Coalition with the Artist Empowerment Award that same year. He also received the Pioneer Director award from the Pan-African Film and Arts Festival in 2010.