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Exclusive interview with Gotham Award winners Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan

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On Monday, Dec. 2, Examiner.com was on the scene at the 23rd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, presented by the The Independent Filmmaker Project at Cipriani Wall Street. The Weinstein Company's "Fruitvale Station," won big with Director Ryan Coogler taking home the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award and right before that Michael B. Jordan won the Breakthrough actor award. We had the opportunity to exclusively chat with both Ryan and Michael right after their big wins. Check out what they had to say below:

What does this award mean to you?

Ryan: It’s the greatest honor, man, to be recognized by a program like this - award like this. It’s just amazing. I think that more than anything, it motivates me to want to continue working hard.

Can you speak about the journey you have had with this film?

Ryan: Yeah. I mean every part of the process has been intense and it goes fast, once you get going. And I’ve learned quite a bit. I’ve learned everything on this journey.

I spoke with Forest Whitaker recently and he said he was honored to be a part of your destiny and that you’re the voice of the future. But can you tell me about working with Forest?

Ryan: Working with Forest was a great honor. Working with Forest was just amazing. And the fact that—you look at him, he’s an incredible professional. He works in every facet of the industry. Even though he works as director and producer, as an amazing actor, he also is an incredible human being. You could look at what he does with his time, with the influence in terms of social issues. And he sets up programs and foundations, it’s just amazing.

What does this award mean to you?

MBJ: It means a lot to my family, like, my mom and my dad. Honestly, it’s the first time they ever got a chance to come to one of these. And to see me win in front of them—it means the world to me to share this with them.

And what do you admire about Ryan as a filmmaker?

MBJ: He’s so well-prepared, so smart. You know, I try to stump him on film because he knows everything. I mean, you could name a director or a genre and he can spit out six or seven films why he liked it, why they made the film for this reason X, Y, and Z. He’s just a smart guy, completely humble. He’s not in it for this at all, you know. He just wants to tell powerful stories that affect people, and I think that’s very important.

And the Gotham Award is the quintessential New York independent film award, could you tell me how New York influences you as an actor, as an artist?

I think it just gives you an extra layer. You know I used to travel back and forth for auditions all the time and just being in the city, interacting with people, having conversations, bumping into people walking down the street, taking the train, cabs, it just gives you another layer—the cold, it’s just reality. Sometimes when you go to these other cities—I live in L.A. right now—it’s just so different...It just made me who I am. It’s something that’s a part of me. I can’t get rid of it.

The evening was presented by euphoria Calvin Klein, FIJI Water, Russian Standard Vodka and Mionetto Prosecco. On the red carpet, the Russian Standard Vodka model posed for photos with celebrities and handed out shots from a limited edition Russian Standard copper mug. Up in the green room, all of the winners autographed a limited edition Russian Standard Bottle for charity. After the event ended, guests headed to Andaz Wall Street for the official after-party. We spotted "12 Years A Slave" star Lupita Nyong'o (in a Lanvin dress and a Miu Miu coat) chatting with Michael B. Jordan. Soon after, Jordan's co-star Melonie Diaz walked in and director Ryan Coogler arrived at the party shortly after. At the party, Russian Standard models offered guests fabulous cocktails and cupcakes. euphoria Calvin Klein gifted celebrity guests with their scent for men and women.

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