The first African-American director to be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, trailblazing creator of Boyz n the Hood, and industry role model, John Singleton, has died. Singleton was checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center seeking medical care after suffering a stroke on April 17. Singleton’s family removed him from life support on Monday morning. He was 51.
In addition to the director’s groundbreaking debut, Boyz n the Hood, Singleton also directed legendary films, Poetic Justice (Tupac Shakur, Janet Jackson), Higher Learning (Ice Cube, Jennifer Connelly, Omar Epps), and Baby Boy (Taraji Henson, Tyrese Gibson, Snoop Dogg). Singleton’s all-too-short career made waves that have influenced some of the most prominent African American directors today. Industry titans Jordan Peele, Barry Jenkins, and Samuel L. Jackson shared their grief after losing such an important pillar in African American cinema.
RIP John Singleton. So sad to hear. John was a brave artist and a true inspiration. His vision changed everything.
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) April 29, 2019
Cruel. Not what I want to say right now. But certainly how I feel. Cruel. Just… so cruel.
— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) April 29, 2019
Mourning the loss of a collaborator & True Friend John Singleton. He blazed the trail for many young film makers, always remaining true to who he was & where he came from!!! RIP Brother. Gone Way Too Soon!
— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) April 29, 2019
Singleton grew up in South-Central Los Angeles before attending the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The director propelled himself to stardom for fearlessly creating authentic portrayals of urban life in Los Angeles. “I learned that no one was going to write the films I wanted to do except for me,” he said to The Hollywood Reporter in 2014. “No one was going to have the vision to tell the stories that I wanted to tell except for me.” Singleton devoted his career to increasing African-American representation in the arts, forging more freedom for black artists, and courageously speaking his truth.
Singleton’s family announced the director’s passing Monday morning on April 29, “We are sad to relay that John Singleton has died. John passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends. 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 made invaluable contributions to cinema and American culture as an artist that wielded the power to meld his experiences with the collective zeitgeist. The director gave a voice to the voiceless; his presence will be felt for generations to come. John Singleton will be dearly missed.