Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Novelist, Screenwriter, Director, Stand-up comic
John Ridley was an African-American writer, director, and producer who was involved in several high profile television show and films, most notably the Academy Award-winning drama, "12 Years a Slave" (2013). Ridley was born in 1965 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He first started off as a writer for the hit sitcoms "Martin" (Fox 1992-97) and "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" (NBC 1990-96), after which he served as both a writer and co-producer of the critically-acclaimed "The John Larroquette Show" (NBC 1993-96). Audiences next saw Ridley's first foray into feature films, "Cold Around the Heart" (1997) which starred David Caruso and Chris Noth. Ridley then wrote a script about American soldiers out to look for gold bullion at the end of the Persian Gulf War, which director David O. Russell adapted into the film "Three Kings" (1999), starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, reportedly without using any of Ridley's original script, which caused a feud between writer and director. Ridley continued to write for television, including his own original series "Platinum" (UPN 2003), the film adaptation "Barbershop" (Showtime 2005) and "The Wanda Sykes Show" (Fox 2009-2010); he also served as executive producer of the latter two shows. Ridley's career reached new heights when he was tasked to write the screenplay for "12 Years a Slave," a film adaptation of Solomon Northup's memoir that chronicled the story of how he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the mid-19th century. The film was universally praised by critics and Ridley himself garnered numerous awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay at the 86th Academy Awards. Ridley made his directorial debut the following year with "Jimi: All Is By My Side" (2014), a film starring Andre Benjamin of the hip hop duo Outkast as rock legend Jimi Hendrix, portraying him in 1966 just prior to his international breakthrough. Despite critical acclaim for Benjamin's performance, the film was met with general disinterest at the box office. Ridley next made the move into television, creating and producing the drama "American Crime" (ABC 2015- ), which follows the repercussions of a single crime throughout an entire season.