John Singleton Dies: ‘Boyz N the Hood’ Director, was 51

Renowned filmmaker, John Singleton, passed away on Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering from a stroke on April 17. He was 51 years old. His family informed that he passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones and friends. Singleton’s contributions to the world of film have left an indelible mark and his loss will be felt by all who revered him.

The family released a statement in which it expressed gratitude to John’s admirers, friends, and coworkers for their love and support during this trying time. “We want to thank the amazing doctors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital for their expert care and kindness,” the statement read.

On Monday, Singleton’s family chose to remove him from life support at Cedars, where he had been receiving intensive care for 13 days since his stroke. Although he had been receiving excellent medical care, unfortunately, he suffered the stroke while at the hospital.

Recently, Shelia Ward, the mother of a certain individual, revealed his critical condition, stating that he was in a coma. She attempted to become his temporary conservator, which was opposed by some of his children who didn’t agree with her take on his medical status and opposed her control over his financial and medical decisions.

John Singleton’s “Boyz N the Hood” is a sobering portrayal of three teenagers navigating life amidst gang violence in South-Central Los Angeles. This critically acclaimed film solidified Singleton’s position among esteemed African-American directors like Spike Lee, Bill Duke, Julie Dash, Robert Townsend, and Reginald Hudlin.

In a noteworthy YouTube video from 2013, Mr. Singleton disclosed that at the age of 18, he was deeply moved by Spike Lee’s groundbreaking 1986 film, “She’s Gotta Have It” which resonated with him as a young Black teen who felt underrepresented in the movies he had previously seen.

At the age of 22, he embarked on the production of “Boyz,” a film that tracks the journey of Tre (portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr.) and his acquaintances Ricky (Morris Chestnut) and Doughboy (Ice Cube) as they navigate the perils of drug addiction and gang violence. In the aftermath of Ricky’s tragic shooting at the hands of a gangster, his half-brother Doughboy resolves to exact revenge, while Tre elects to take a different path.

Despite graduating from film school less than a year prior, Mr. Singleton candidly admitted that he lacked prior knowledge in directing when he ventured into making his debut film, “Boyz N the Hood.”

John Singleton, despite being the youngest Oscar nominee for best director, lost the 1992 Academy Award to Jonathan Demme for his work on the renowned movie “Silence of the Lambs”. Although he also received a nomination for best original screenplay, he was bested by Callie Khouri who took home the award for her exceptional work on the thrilling movie “Thelma and Louise”.

Born in L.A. on January 6, 1968, Singleton attended Blair High School and went on to Pasadena City College and then to USC School of Cinematic Arts. At first, he was toying with the idea of pursuing computer science, but then he enrolled in USC’s Film Writing Program — and this was the spark that started a career that would cement him as one of the most influential filmmakers of our time.

In 1990, shortly after graduating from USC, he made a blazing debut with his first feature film, Boyz N the Hood. This led to an impressive stint at Columbia Pictures. By the tender age of 26, he had produced three films in five years – an achievement seldom seen among contemporaries. Singleton was well-supported at Columbia by studio head Frank Price, who was moved by his talent and family-centric social commentary despite being politically conservative.

In 1993, director John Singleton released Poetic Justice, starring powerhouse cast members Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Regina King, and Joe Torry. The film follows the journey of Justice, a budding poet played by Jackson, as she travels with a group of companions from Los Angeles to Oakland, all while navigating their personal struggles and attempting to connect with one another. With Shakur’s magnetic performance leading the way, Poetic Justice presents a raw and emotionally charged exploration of the human experience.

In 1995, Singleton delved deeper into the themes of race and identity in his movie Higher Learning. The film enlisted a talented cast including Ice Cube and Fishburne, alongside Omar Epps, Michael Rapaport, Jennifer Connelly, Kristy Swanson, and Tyra Banks. This was Singleton’s first of many successful films, including Rosewood (1997), Baby Boy (2001), and Four Brothers (2005). He also lent his voice to two of Hollywood’s bigwigs – the Shaft remake (2000) and 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003).

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