Fuqua, Antoine: Director Profile

Despite having a talent for making tough, urban crime thrillers like “Training Day” (2001), director Antoine Fuqua tried throughout his career not to be pigeonholed; instead steering his career towards other genres not usually open to other African-American directors.

But even when Fuqua was directing music videos, he had to fight against being stereotyped – honored to have worked with Prince and Stevie Wonder, he never had the same opportunity with other favorites like Eric Clapton and U2. What he wanted more than anything was to make deep, resonant films rather than another urban flick that starred people of the same race. Mysticism and Joseph Campbell had far greater appeal to him than doing another gangsta thriller set in the ‘hood. Though not always successful in pulling off movies out of his comfort zone – the realist take on the mythological “King Arthur” (2004) being a prime example – Fuqua challenged himself to push his boundaries and see the world through a colorless lens.

Fuqua was born on May 30, 1965

in the rough-and-tumble Homewood neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA. Raised in a good home – his father was a foreman for Heinz, his mother a medical technician – Fuqua, nonetheless, confronted the nightmares of living in a violent neighborhood, finding dead bodies in the alley, dodging a bullet at age 14, and suffering a stroke a year later from all the stress. But Fuqua was a good student and a talented basketball player – two gifts that helped elevate him out of the ghetto and into the University of West Virginia on an athletic scholarship, where he also studied electrical engineering. After two years of electromagnetism and signal processing, Fuqua called it quits and, while taking a baroque art class, became fascinated with painting. A brief return to Pittsburgh was followed by a move to New York, where he began working as a production assistant on local productions, learning the ins-and-outs of putting together a shoot.%0