One year ago today, we lost the legendary John Singleton at age 51. He passed after he was taken off of life support — 13 days after suffering a stroke. At 23 years old, the writer and director became the first African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for Boyz N The Hood.
In addition to Boyz N the Hood, Singleton’s work, which spanned genres and generations, included a remake of Shaft, historical films such as Rosewood, action films such as 2 Fast 2 Furious, and films that questioned the meaning of American masculinity such as Baby Boy and Four Brothers. He also worked with TV and streaming platforms as a director on hits like Billions, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and Empire.
He is often celebrated for having the foresight to bring mega-talents like Tupac Shakur, Regina King, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Ice Cube, Tyrese and Taraji P. Henson to the attention of the wider public. Henson and Tyrese were among the celebrities who visited Singleton in the hospital.
Early in his career, he directed the Michael Jackson music video for “Remember the Time.”
Boyz N the Hood remains one of the definitive movies of a generation. It also led to his Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at age 24; he was the youngest filmmaker and the first African American to earn a nomination in those categories. Boyz N the Hood is currently housed in the Library of Congress.
John Singleton on his diverse film resume:
["In the beginning of my career, all I wanted to do was be taken seriously as a filmmaker, so I chose to like, develop projects that would have some social relevance. I went to film school because I love movies so I'm going to flip on everybody and just do some popcorn stuff–and that started with Shaft and then, you know now, this movie (2 Fast 2 Furious). I feel that I'm best serve my career by doing different types of movies."] SOUNDCUE (:20 OC: . . . types of movies.)
Ice Cube on John Singleton's film Boyz N the Hood.
["Well, John is important because, you know, being a black man, he wanted to make sure that on film that he was able to produce the black experience, you know, uncut, so people can really see how we are, how we feel, not on the tip that most movies were kind of exploring, you know, black reality. So I think he was just a champion to try to show the world, you know, what we are all about. And so I think, you know, he's a great man for that. And with the movie Boyz N the Hood, what I loved about the movie, it taught you guys like Doughboy are real guys, real people with real issues that, you know, life may have given them a bad hand, and they're trying to do things to survive and get over it and understand the world and not just guys you see on the eleven o'clock news getting put in the back of the car, you know. These are guys who have issues. And Boyz N the Hood was able to show guys like Doughboy are real people and not just what America calls criminals."] SOUNDCUE (1:13 OC: . . .what America calls criminals.)
Ice Cube on meeting John Singleton.
["I never got a chance to talk to Arsenio because I saw a kid come up to me who was pretty much my age saying, you're Ice Cube, huh? I'm going to put you in a movie. I was like, okay, man, watch out. You know what I mean? He said I'm a junior at USC, and you're going to be perfect. I said okay. I didn't believe him because I didn't think I was qualified at all. He's a junior at USC. How I was he going to put me in a movie? I was at a Public Enemy concert the next year and this dude comes walking up. Remember me? I'm John. I'm a senior now at USC and I'm going to put you in this movie still. And I'm like, okay. He's telling me about the movie but I'm distracted. Everybody leaves and his ride leaves him, and he looks at me like, Cube, you can give me a ride to my dorm? What the hell did I get myself into. So I'm like, all right. Did you give him a ride? I gave him a ride. Because he's a cool dude. I didn't want to leave him out there. It's kind of dangerous after the club so I gave him a ride, didn't see him, you know, didn't hear from him. My manager a year later comes to me and says, hey, somebody wants to puts you in a movie. I'm like what? Why? I'm totally unqualified. So, so I go in, and it's John. It's him sitting there. Like, I graduated. I'm like, yay, congratulations."] SOUNDCUE (1:30 OC: . . .I'm like, yay, congratulations.)
John Singleton On Career Arc :
John Singleton On Doing All Types Of Movies :
LATE SHOW Ice Cube on John Singletons film Boyz N the Hood :
LATE SHOW Ice Cube on meeting John Singleton :
Sam Jackson On John Singleton :