Groundbreaking Director John Singleton Dies at 51

John Singleton broke open doors with hard truths and an authentic vision.

John Singleton

Trailblazing director John Singleton died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles at the age of 51. The family of the director, producer and screenwriter of Boyz N the Hood, said they had directed doctors to pull him off life support after he suffered a massive stroke on April 17. Singleton had been in a coma.

“We are sad to relay that John Singleton has died,” The Singleton Family said in a statement. “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 was the youngest person and first African American ever nominated for a best director Oscar. He was 24 years old, and a recent graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, when he made Boyz N the Hood.  Set in South Central Los Angeles, the low-budget film starred Cuba Gooding Jr. as Tre Styles, Ice Cube as Doughboy, Angela Basset, and Lawrence Fishburne. Boyz N the Hood was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2002.

His second film, Poetic Justice, made in 1993, starred Janet Jackson as a poet named Justice and Tupac  Shakur. Singleton made the college drama Higher Learning, with Ice Cube, Fishburne, Omar Epps, Michael Rapaport, Jennifer Connelly, Kristy Swanson and Tyra Banks in 1995. He also directed Rosewood (1997), Baby Boy (2001) and Four Brothers (2005). He directed a remake of Shaft (2000), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), which is part of the Fast and Furious franchise, and the FX crime drama Snowfall. He was nominated for an Emmy nomination for directing the 2016 episode “The Race Card” for FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. He also directed episodes of Billions, Empire.

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Singleton directed the music video for Michael Jackson’s song “Remember the Time.” The video featured Eddie Murphy, Iman and Magic Johnson.

Singleton was born in Los Angeles on January 6, 1968. He went to Blair High School, Pasadena City College. He is survived by his mother, Sheila Ward, father, Danny Singleton and his children Justice, Maasai, Hadar, Cleopatra, Selenesol, Isis, and Seven.

Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFKRead more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.