Boyz N the Hood director John Singleton dies aged 51
BOYZ N the Hood director John Singleton, who became both the first African American and the youngest-ever film-maker to be nominated for the best director Oscar, has died aged 51. Singleton had been hospitalised following a stroke on 17 April.
Earlier on Monday, Singleton’s family announced that he would be taken off life support. “It is with heavy hearts we announce that our beloved son, father and friend, John Daniel Singleton will be taken off of life support today,” a spokesperson for the family said in a statement to Deadline. “This was an agonising decision, one that our family made, over a number of days, with the careful counsel of John’s doctors.”
Born in Los Angeles in 1968, Singleton released the incendiary Boyz n the Hood in 1991 and its portrayal of gang violence and the drug epidemic made an immediate impact. It was a commercial success, made stars out of lead actors Cuba Gooding Jr and Ice Cube (who was already well-known for being a member of hip-hop group NWA), and installed Singleton as the leader of a new generation of African American film-makers aiming for mainstream influence.
The film reflected his own background growing up in South Central Los Angeles. His parents were separated, and Singleton, like his lead character Tre, went to live with his father as a child. He drew on his own experiences, such as his father’s encounter with a policeman after seeing off an attempted burglary, as well as his friends’ for Boyz n the Hood, which he completed after successfully applying to USC film school. He was 24 when he was nominated for best director and best original screenplay Oscars.
By his own admission, Singleton was an “angry young man”, and found it difficult to repeat Boyz n the Hood’s zeitgeist-altering impact. Subsequent films included Poetic Justice, with Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur, and Higher Learning, dealing with the racial fault lines in student life. A remake of 70s blaxploitation classic Shaft, starring Samuel L Jackson, restored Singleton’s Hollywood credibility and he was hired to direct the sequel to The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, released in 2003.
However Singleton still found work hard to come by, with thriller Four Brothers being his only other directorial credit of the decade. He later saidHollywood overlooked black directors. In 2005, he acted as producer on Hustle & Flow, starring Terrence Howard as a pimp aiming to make it as a rapper, putting $3m of his own money into the production.
The explosion in high-end TV production gave Singleton a new direction, and he returned to his formative years in South Central for the FX series Snowfall, about the impact of the crack epidemic on Los Angeles in the 1980s. It premiered in 2017 and has been renewed for a third season.
Singleton is survived by five children. – theguardian.com