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John Singleton (1968–2019), directed the groundbreaking urban drama “Boyz n the Hood”

by Linnea Crowther

John Singleton wrote and directed “Boyz n the Hood” (1991), the groundbreaking urban drama film starring Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding Jr. as young men negotiating gang culture in South Central Los Angeles. Singleton was nominated for the Academy Award for best director for “Boyz n the Hood,” becoming the first Black director nominated for the award and, at age 24, the youngest person ever nominated. Singleton also directed films including “Rosewood” (1997), “Shaft” (2000), “Baby Boy” (2001), and “2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003), and he directed the 1992 video for Michael Jackson’s hit single “Remember the Time.” He was a producer of some of his own films as well as “Hustle and Flow” (2005) and “Black Snake Moan” (2006). He was co-creator and producer of the FX TV drama series “Snowfall.”

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Died: Monday, April 29, 2019 (Who else died on April 29?)


Details of death: Died in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke at the age of 51.

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A brilliant debut: “Boyz n the Hood” was Singleton’s directorial debut, a noteworthy achievement from such a young director. Not only was the film a box office success; it was critically acclaimed as well. “Boyz n the Hood” debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, and in 2002, it was selected by the Library of Congress of preservation in the National Film Registry as a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” film. Almost 30 years later, “Boyz n the Hood” hasn’t lost its impact—critics writing about the film upon its 25th anniversary in 2016 called it fresh, lasting, and sincere. The film, according to the Los Angeles Times, “helped usher in a new phase of cinema depicting African-American life,” and it has inspired other directors for decades.

Singleton on the experience of creating “Boyz n the Hood”: “As the movie was going along, I was learning how to direct. As it becomes more and more intense and comes on to the third act, the camera work is more and more fluid, because I’m getting better and better—and taking more chances.” —From a 2016 interview with The Guardian

What people said about him: “John was a brave artist and a true inspiration. His vision changed everything.” —Jordan Peele, director of “Get Out” and “Us”

“He was just 23 years old when he directed Boyz n the Hood, one of the greatest films ever made. An absolute masterpiece. John had a profound impact on my career as a filmmaker and later as a friend. He will forever be missed. So damn sad.” —Filmmaker Michael Skolnik

“John Singleton created some of the most salient portraits of black life that have ever been committed to film. He is also one of the folks who inspired me to become a mediamaker.” —Rolling Stone writer Jamil Smith

“Rest In Power, my friend. One of the greatest to ever do it. Thank you GOD for blessing us with this gift better known as John Singleton. Having trouble finding enough words to share just…” —Actress Regina King on Twitter

“John Singleton was a talented director and a kind man. He died too young. He will be missed.” —Horror movie director John Carpenter on Twitter

“Like many of us when I heard the news I wished it wasn’t true. John is a true visionary and social leader. Through his arts he shared many of our truths, and I can honestly say without his works I may have not been given the chance to express myself in this industry. I’m posting this not in his memory but to speak positive energy around his spirit. So we can have more time with him and his soul.” —Actor Michael B. Jordan

“RIP John Singleton. He was the first African American AND the youngest person to ever be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards. Incredible talent. He will be missed.” —Actress Mayim Bialik

Full obituary: Variety

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