Updated: Jan 16, 2022
JoHn Singleton We Miss You!
John Daniel Singleton (January 6, 1968 – April 28, 2019) was an American film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. He was best known for writing and directing Boyz n the Hood in 1991, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, becoming, at age 24, the first African American and youngest person to have ever been nominated for that award. John Singleton was a native of South Los Angeles, and many of his films, such as Poetic Justice (1993), Higher Learning (1995), and Baby Boy (2001), had themes which resonated with the contemporary urban population. He also directed the drama Rosewood (1997) and the action films Shaft (2000), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), and Four Brothers (2005). He co-created the television crime drama Snowfall. He was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special for "The Race Card", the fifth episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
John Singleton's film debut Boyz n the Hood (1991), an inner city dramatization of his upbringings in South Central LA with characters loosely based on persons in his real life, including childhood best friends' Roman J. Artiste, aka "little Jimmy" (the real Ricky) and Michael Winters (the real Doughboy), starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Angela Bassett, Ice Cube, and Laurence Fishburne, was both a critical and commercial success. It debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. For his efforts, Singleton received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. At age 24, he became the youngest person ever nominated for Best Director and the first African-American to be nominated for the award (four others – Lee Daniels, Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele, and Spike Lee – have been nominated since). The film has since attained classic status, and in 2002, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
His directing ability led to the VFX-driven "Remember the Time" music video for Michael Jackson, which featured Eddie Murphy, Iman and Magic Johnson. His next films were Poetic Justice (1993) and Higher Learning (1995), which were similarly socially conscious and received mixed to positive reviews. Of his work with some of the 1990s' most visible rappers, Singleton states,
"I come from the same place as rappers. It's cool because it's just another form of communication. I have the same sensibilities as rappers. I'm not bourgeois and everything, thinking I'm better than folks. I see myself as the first filmmaker from the hip-hop generation. I've grown up with hip-hop music. The films I make have a hip-hop aesthetic. It may not have rap in it, but there's a whole culture and politics that go with the music. It's young, Black culture-that's what I deal with in my films."
The film Rosewood (1997), Singleton's historical drama about racial violence, was entered into the 47th Berlin International Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear. Both this film and Baby Boy (2001) received predominantly positive reviews and helped establish Singleton's critical reputation. Additionally, his adaptation of Shaft (2000), starring Samuel L. Jackson in the title role, was successful critically and commercially.
John later turned to directing action films, such as 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and Four Brothers (2005), which received mixed reviews. In 2005, Singleton teamed with Craig Brewer and financed the independent film Hustle and Flow, once it was clear that most other major backers would not clear it for release. In 2003, Singleton received a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
It was announced in 2013 that Singleton was attached as the director of a Tupac Shakur biography film. On April 3, 2015, Singleton reported that production was put on hold. Four days later, it was announced that following creative differences with Morgan Creek Productions, Singleton had stepped down as director, and was replaced by Carl Franklin. Singleton also stated he was planning on making a competing film about Tupac.
After directing episodes of the critically acclaimed TV shows Empire and American Crime Story, he served as an executive producer of the crime drama series Rebel for BET and co-created Snowfall for FX.
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