F. GARY GRAY
Date of Birth: July 17, 1969
Born in Highland Park, Illinois but raised in Los Angeles, F. Gary Gray became involved with working behind the camera at a local cable public access channel when he was still in high school. He went on to study film and television in college, then worked for a while as a cameraman for various companies including Black Entertainment Television and Fox network's rap video show Pump it Up. While working on Pump it Up, he met the hip-hop group WC and the Maad Circle, and they hired him to direct their next music video. Gray soon became an in-demand music video director, working with artists such as Whitney Houston and TLC. At the 1995 MTV Music Videos Awards, Gray was a multiple winner, receiving four awards. Gray also earned a Billboard Music Video Award the same year.
Gray's video of Ice Cube's It Was a Good Day was listed in Rolling Stone magazine's Top 100 Best Videos of All Time. The rapper then hired Gray to make his feature film directing debut with a screenplay Ice Cube had co-written, the comedy Friday (1995) starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker. Made for only $2 million, the film grossed $30 million, paving the way for several sequels. Gray's next film was Set it Off (1996), starring Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett. The film's budget was $9 million, but made back more than $40 million at the box office and was New Line's highest grossing film of 1996. Not only popular with the public, the film was a critical success, winning Gray a Black Film Award for Best Director, and the Special Jury Prize at the Cognac Film Festival.
Gray directed Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey in The Negotiator (1998), a big budget action film. He moved to television in 1999 as executive producer and director of the Fox drama series Ryan Caulfield: Year One. Returning to the big screen, Gray directed the action flick A Man Apart (2003) starring Vin Diesel, followed by The Italian Job (2003), a remake of the highly successful 1969 British heist caper that originally starred Michael Caine. The Italian Job did well at the box office and prompted a sequel, but first Gray directed Be Cool (2005), starring John Travolta.
In 2009, he directed Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx in the intense crime drama Law Abiding Citizen, and in 2015, he directed the drama Straight Outta Compton, which was nominated for an Oscar.
F. Gary Gray is also responsible for the production of The Fate of the Furious (2017), which brought in millions of dollars at the box office, bringing his total revenue to more than $1.2 billion. Since then, he's directed the action/comedy Men in Black: International (2019), starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.
Between movies, Gray continues to direct music videos. He told LA Weekly, "Video is a playground for me. As a director of motion pictures, you can go two years without making a movie. You don't want to get rusty."
The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Straight Outta Compton (2015) Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
Be Cool (2005)
The Italian Job (2003)
A Man Apart (2003)
The Negotiator (1998)
Set It Off (1996)