The man who helped redefined the term “urban film” has passed away.
John Singleton, a prolific filmmaker whose debut film Boyz n the Hood, a film that earned him a nomination at the Academy Awards, died at the age of 51 on April 29 in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke last week.
Born and raised in Los Angeles on January 6, 1968, John Singleton was brought up in the seperate houses of both his parents, who were unmarried. After graduating high school, Singleton would go to USC, where he entered the Film Writing Program and work as a production assistant on the children’s television series Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Upon his graduation from USC in 1990, Singleton would make his first feature film, a story about social issues within the Crenshaw section of Los Angeles, entitled Boyz n the Hood.
The film starred Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Morris Chestnut as three friends who question themselves and the world around them in Crenshaw. The film was so successful among critics and fans that Singleton would be the youngest nominee for the Best Director Award and Best Writer for Original Screenplay Award at the Academy Awards. He would follow that up with Poetic Justice, which starred Janet Jackson and the late Tupac Shakur as two rivals who find themselves with something in common, their view of the worlds around them, as they travel to Oakland.
Singleton would go on to direct a reboot/sequel of Shaft, which stars Samuel L. Jackson as the nephew of the original Shaft himself; 2 Fast 2 Furious, the second of the famous film franchise, and Abduction, which was meant to bring martial artist and actor Taylor Lautner out of the Twilight spotlight. He has also produced some urban style action and dramas, such as Hustle and Flow, Black Snake Moan, Woo, and Illegal Tender.
Singleton is survived by his mother Sheila Ward and four daughters Justice, Maasai, Cleopatra, and Hadar.
World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of John Singleton. As a final tribute, here’s Singleton in 1991 on the Oprah Winfrey Show talking about his film debut:
Rest in Peace, John Singleton.