F. Gary Gray Biography

F. Gary Gray photo

Born: July 17, 1969


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 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."


Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
Be Cool (2005)
The Italian Job (2003)
A Man Apart (2003)
The Negotiator (1998)
Set It Off (1996)
Friday (1995)
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