John Ridley IV (born October 1965) is an American screenwriter, television director, novelist, and showrunner, known for 12 Years a Slave, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He is also the creator and showrunner of the critically acclaimed anthology series American Crime. His most recent work is the documentary film Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982–1992.
Ridley at the Stockholm Film Festival in 2013.
John Ridley IV
October 1965 (age 54)
|Alma mater||New York University|
|12 Years a Slave |
|Parent(s)||John Ridley III|
Ridley was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was raised from the age of seven in Mequon, Wisconsin, with an ophthalmologist father, John Ridley, III, and a mother, Terry Ridley, who was a special education teacher for Milwaukee Public Schools. He has two sisters and is the middle sibling.
Following college, Ridley performed standup comedy in New York City and made appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Moving to Los Angeles in 1990, he began writing for such television sitcoms as Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The John Larroquette Show.
After both writing and directing his film debut, the 1997 crime thriller Cold Around the Heart, he and Oliver Stone co-adapted Ridley's first novel, Stray Dogs (still unpublished when Stone bought the rights) into the 1997 Stone-directed film U Turn, which was released slightly earlier than Cold Around the Heart. Ridley went on to write the novels Love Is a Racket and Everybody Smokes in Hell. His novel Spoils of War was adapted into the 1999 David O. Russell-directed Three Kings. Ridley's original script was rewritten by Russell and Ridley, with Ridley receiving a "story by" credit negotiated among himself, Russell, and the releasing studio, Warner Bros. Ridley then became a writer and a supervising producer on the NBC crime drama Third Watch. His other novels are The Drift, Those Who Walk in Darkness, and A Conversation with the Mann. He also wrote the graphic novel The American Way.
His work as screenwriter also includes 12 Years a Slave, Red Tails, and Undercover Brother. His script for 12 Years a Slave won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, making Ridley the second African American to win the award, after Geoffrey S. Fletcher (for Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire).
On April 16, 2018, it was announced that Ridley would direct and write an adaptation of his graphic novel The American Way produced by Blumhouse Productions.
On June 4, 2018, it was announced that Ridley would direct a feature film adaptation of the Robert Silverberg short story, Needle in a Timestack produced by Bron Studios. The film will feature performances from Leslie Odom Jr., Freida Pinto, Cynthia Erivo, and Orlando Bloom.
In December 2007, during the Writers Guild of America strike against the major production studios, Ridley opted for WGA membership as a dues-paying non-member, or "fi-core," making him eligible to submit scripts to the studios while the strike was ongoing. In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, Ridley expressed his frustration at the direction the strike had taken and the WGA's crushing of internal dissent: "After 15 years of being told shut up, sit down and be part of the groupthink, I decided I did not belong in the guild. The guild has a way to option out. I took the option." The guild later retaliated by making his screenplay for 12 Years a Slave ineligible for a WGA Award.
|Year||TV series||Credit / Role||Notes|
|1994||The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air||Writer|
|1995||The John Larroquette Show||Writer|
|1998||Team Knight Rider||Writer|
|2003||Platinum||Writer / Director|
|2005||Barbershop: The Series||Writer|
|2009||The Wanda Sykes Show||Writer|
|2015–2017||American Crime||Creator / Writer / Director||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Director in a Drama Series|
|2016||Lady Dynamite||Himself||Episode: "White Trash"|
|2017||Guerrilla||Producer / Writer / Director|
|2019||‘’Godfather of Harlem’’||Director||Episode: “By Whatever Means Necessary”|
Works and publications
- Ridley, John. Stray Dogs. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997. ISBN 978-0-345-41345-1
- Ridley, John. Love Is a Racket: A Novel. New York: Knopf, 1998. ISBN 978-0-375-40142-8
- Ridley, John. Everybody Smokes in Hell. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. ISBN 978-0-375-40143-5
- Ridley, John. A Conversation with the Mann: A Novel. New York: Warner Books, 2002. ISBN 978-0-446-52836-8
- Ridley, John. The Drift. New York: Knopf, 2002. ISBN 978-0-375-41182-3
- Ridley, John. Those Who Walk in Darkness. New York: Warner Books, 2003. ISBN 978-0-446-53093-4
- Ridley, John, and Patricia R. Floyd. What Fire Cannot Burn. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books, 2011, 2007. ISBN 978-1-456-10151-0
- Ridley, John, and Ben Oliver. The Authority: Human on the Inside. La Jolla, CA: WildStorm Productions, 2004. 978-1-401-20070-1
- Ridley, John. The Razor's Edge: Warblade #5. DC Comics. 2005.
- Ridley, John, Georges Jeanty, and Karl C. Story. The American Way. La Jolla, Calif: WildStorm/DC Comics, 2007. ISBN 978-1-401-21256-8
- Ridley, John. Ten Thousand Years. 2005 (world premiere).
- Ridley, John. "The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger." Esquire, December 2006, Volume 146, Issue 6.
Ridley is married to wife Gayle, a former script supervisor. They have two children.
- Reardon, Patrick T. (September 24, 1998). "John Ridley's Childhood Was Sunny, But His Novels Explore A Dark World". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on January 13, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
- Bozzola, Lucia. "John Ridley". AllMovie / Rovi via The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- Chandler, Kurt (January 31, 2008). "How to be a Famous Hollywood Writer". Milwaukee Magazine. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
- Dudek, Duane (January 16, 2014). "Mequon native Ridley talks Oscar nominations for '12 Years A Slave'". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on January 18, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
- Bence, Susan (4 March 2014). "Oscar Winner John Ridley's Father Talks About Life Before Desegregation" (Audio). WUWM Milwaukee. Archived from the original on January 28, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015. Audio archived on January 28, 2015.
- Zeitchik, Steven, "A 'Ben-Hur' for our time", Portland Press Herald, August 21, 2016: "Downey and Burnett are staunch Catholics; Ridley is also a devout Christian, Huston and Bekmambetov, who was raised in a communist country, are more secular; Daniel and MGM principal Gary Barber are Jewish."
- "John Ridley, Easy Writer". Entertainment Weekly. October 8, 1999. Archived from the original on February 28, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
- Gross, Terry (May 2, 2007). "A Disenchanted Look at 'The American Way'" (Audio interview). Fresh Air. NPR. Archived from the original on January 22, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
- "Stories By John Ridley". NPR. March 26, 2019.
- "FAQ for John Ridley's Visible Man". NPR. July 18, 2007. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
- Cieply, Michael; Barnes, Brooks (March 2, 2014). "A Landmark Oscar Win for '12 Years a Slave'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 26, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
- Shattuck, Kathryn (January 16, 2014). "What the Writer Had to Edit From '12 Years a Slave'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 18, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
- Lee, Chris (March 2, 2014). "Oscars 2014: '12 Years a Slave' wins for adapted screenplay". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 28, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
- Hibbard, James (April 17, 2015). "Marvel teaming with John Ridley for mysterious superhero project — exclusive". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 27, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
- Fleming Jr., Mike (April 16, 2018). "John Ridley To Write, Direct Blumhouse Superhero Film 'The American Way'". Deadline. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
- N'Duka, Amanda (June 4, 2018). "Leslie Odom Jr., Freida Pinto, Cynthia Erivo, Orlando Bloom & BRON Studios Join John Ridley's 'Needle In A Timestack'". Deadline. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
- Seitzman, Michael (January 4, 2008). "What "Fi-Core" Really Means". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
- Ridley, John (January 8, 2008). "John Ridley goes fi-core". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
- McNary, Dave (January 9, 2014). "Bitterness of WGA Strike Echoed in Exclusion of '12 Years a Slave'". Variety. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
- Ridley in Thompson, Anne (October 16, 2013). "Oscar-Winner John Ridley Talks Writing '12 Years a Slave' and Directing Hendrix Biopic 'All Is By My Side'". Indiewire.com. Archived from the original on October 31, 2014.
At the end of the year, when all these things are happening and you've got two kids, a lot of what you see gets determined by what gets put in front of you.
- Gennusa, Chris R. "John Ridley: Burnt Noir." Creative Screenwriting. Winter 1997, v. 4 n.4, pp. 33–38