‘American Crime’ Creator John Ridley: How Trayvon and Ferguson Inspired TV’s Most Provocative Show

March 6, 2015 12:31 AM

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‘American Crime’ Creator John Ridley: How Trayvon and Ferguson Inspired TV’s Most Provocative Show

The name “John Ridley” may not be familiar to the masses just yet, but you’ve no doubt heard his words. After getting his start writing for sitcoms like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Martin, and cranking out several novels, Ridley transitioned to film, penning the screenplays to movies like U Turn and Three Kings. His breakout year came in 2013, when he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years A Slave, and wrote and directed the Jimi Hendrix biopic Jimi: All Is by My Side.

In August 2013, just one month after post-production was completed on 12 Years, he was called in for a meeting with ABC brass to discuss a new, timely show that dealt with racial politics—inspired by the events surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin. “I don’t want it to be about police, prosecutors...

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