Pioneering 'Boyz n the Hood' Director John Singleton Has Died
John Singleton, one of recent cinema's most influential filmmakers, died Monday from complications after suffering a stroke.
Singleton had a stroke on April 17 and was in a coma in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He died this morning after being taken off life support. He was 51.
“John passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends," the Singleton family told The Hollywood Reporter. "We want to thank the amazing doctors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital for their expert care and kindness and we again want thank all of John’s fans, friends and colleagues for all of the love and support they showed him during this difficult time.”
Singleton was born in Los Angeles and attended the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, graduating in 1990.
Singleton is perhaps best known for writing and directing the groundbreaking 1991 film, Boyz n the Hood, the semi-autobiographical story of three young men growing up in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles. It is widely regarded as one of the best coming-of-age movies and an important work that paved the way for other filmmakers and more diverse voices within cinema.
The film earned him a best director Oscar nomination in 1992, when Singleton was 24. He was the youngest person to ever be nominated, as well as the first black filmmaker recognized in the category. He was also nominated for a best screenwriting Oscar.
Singleton went on to write, direct, and produce the Janet Jackson starrer Poetic Justice in 1993, then Higher Learning in 1995. He helmed the 2000 remake of Shaft and 2 Fast 2 Furious in 2003. Later in his career, he became active in television, directing episodes of Empire, Billions, and American Crime Story.
He was also an active producer and was instrumental in getting the 2005 film Hustle & Flow made, putting up the funding himself after persistent rejection from studios. The movie, which stars Terrence Howard, premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and won the coveted Audience Award.
More recently Singleton served as executive producer on FX drama Snowfall.
Singleton was an outspoken advocate for black filmmakers and black voices, emphasizing the importance of African American involvement in the storytelling and development process. He often criticized Hollywood for not letting black filmmakers tell their own stories.
"In the black film community, the consensus is that we're entering a new era of 'Al Jolson movies,'" Singleton wrote for the Hollywood Reporter in 2013. "Jolson, for the uninitiated, was the star of the first 'talkie,' The Jazz Singer in 1927, and is best known for donning blackface and singing 'Mammy.' He is an apt symbol for what slowly is becoming the norm in Hollywood. Even when there are black directors or writers involved, some of the films made today seem like they're sifted of soul. It's as if the studios are saying, 'We want it black, just not that black.'"
Singleton is survived by his mother, Sheila Ward, his father, Danny Singleton, and his children Justice, Maasai, Hadar, Cleopatra, Selenesol, Isis, and Seven.