John Singleton, a groundbreaking and visionary filmmaker, passed away on Monday after being taken off life support following a stroke on April 17th. He was 51 years old.
John Daniel Singleton (January 6, 1968 – April 28, 2019) grew up in Los Angeles, and his first major film, Boyz N the Hood, was set there. He directed the film while still in his 20s, fresh out of film school, and it immediately caught the attention of audiences and critics alike. This film was a defining moment in African American cinema, and in 1991, Singleton made history as the first African American nominated for a Best Director Oscar and the youngest person to ever be nominated for that award.
Over the course of his career, Singleton directed more than 10 films and television series, including the FX series Snowfall, which focused on the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980’s. His unique and creative vision brought a new perspective to the film industry, and he was a true pioneer of his time.
A number of other films, including the romantic drama Poetic Justice (1993), the socially conscious drama Higher Learning (1995), the historical drama Rosewood (1997), the crime film Shaft (2000), the coming-of-age drama Baby Boy (2001), and the action films 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and Four Brothers (2005), have all been written and directed by Singleton since then (2005). He directed episodes of several series, including Empire and Rebel, and co-created the crime thriller Snowfall for television. He also directed the fifth episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. As a result of his work on the latter, he was shortlisted for a Primetime Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special.
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Singleton was one of the most influential filmmakers in African-American history, and his films reflected the lived reality of urban African Americans via explorations of black masculinity, trauma, racism, and other identity-related issues. Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, Janet Jackson, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Tyrese Gibson, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, and André 3000 are just some of the rappers and singers who have starred in films directed by Singleton.
Singleton’s publicist announced that he had been quietly battling with high blood pressure throughout his life, and despite being optimistic about his recovery, his family was forced to make the difficult decision to take him off life support.
The loss of John Singleton is a tragedy, not just for his family and friends but for the entire film community. He was a true visionary who changed the landscape of African American cinema and inspired countless filmmakers with his work. His legacy will continue to live on through the films he created and the impact he had on the film industry. Rest in peace, John Singleton.