John Singleton Remembered: Hollywood Reacts To Director’s Death At 51

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Refresh for updates… The entertainment industry is mourning the death today of John Singleton, the Boyz N the Hood writer and helmer who was the first African-American nominated for a Best Director Oscar and also the youngest. Here is a sampling of tributes, and click on the image above to launch the photo gallery of his life and career:

Laurence Fishburne, Boyz N the Hood

John Singleton
First I’d like to express my condolences to John’s family. His was a unique voice in the cinema. The cinema was more than just Movies to John. It was his language, his expression, his art. His passion for cinema was as boundless as his imagination. His talent as a writer and director was extremely rare. I loved him like a brother… I am heartbroken…
Rest In Peace
John John
I shall miss you very much xox

Nia Long, Boyz N the Hood

“John Singleton was my beginning…the first person to see my special. He changed Hollywood, created stars and had a seemingly impossible vision. He manifested greatness. He made black actors feel like anything was possible. He knew what he wanted frame by frame…moment to moment. His films were groundbreaking and honest. His heart was big and beautiful. Nobody can pump a fist in the air like John. He was a lover of music, art and history. A lover of everything black. He’s our cinematic hero. He’s dancing in the light now. A shining star. Bigger and more powerful. He will forever be my beginning…I love you forever John Singleton. We got work to do y’all — let’s make him proud. ❤️”

Filmmaker Steve McQueen

John Singleton was a trailblazer and an amazing filmmaker. With Boyz n The Hood he made a classic in his first attempt. John did not stick to one way of making pictures and with his varied projects he was more than an inspiration. He was extremely generous with his time and advice. RIP my friend.

DGA president Thomas Schlamme

“John didn’t just make his feature film debut in 1991 with Boyz n the Hood, he exploded into Hollywood, our culture and our consciousness with such a powerful cinematic depiction of life in the inner city. The groundbreaking film would go on to make him the youngest person and the first African American ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. For the next three decades, John’s career as a film director flourished with such culturally resonant films ranging from Poetic Justice and Rosewood to Shaft and 2 Fast 2 Furious. His expansion into television was no less powerful, with his direction of American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson earning him a DGA Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Dramatic Series in 2016. I was so fortunate to be a collaborator with John on the show Snowfall, and witnessed first-hand the enormous impact he had on so many. Despite such a busy and successful career, John prioritized his service at the Guild on the Western Directors Council, as former co-chair of the African-American Steering Committee, and as an alternate on our National Board – showing up to support his fellow members every chance that he got. Our hearts are heavier today at the DGA, as we mourn this tremendous loss.”

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Rest In Power, my friend. One of the greatest to ever do it. Thank you GOD for blessing us with this gift better known as John Singleton. Having trouble finding enough words to share just what you mean to me. Will always love you John! Your spirit will forever shine bright💜

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You gave me my first movie role, my first Oscar nomination and so much more. Thank you for all you have given to the world through your work and all you have done for Black culture, women and young filmmakers. I will miss you John. Keeping your family in my prayers. 💜

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John Landgraf, Chairman, FX Networks and FX Productions

On behalf of my colleagues at FX, we are heartbroken about the passing of our friend and partner, John Singleton.  For almost three decades, John was one of the most important filmmakers in this business, dating back to his masterwork, Boyz n the Hood.  Over the course of his illustrious career, John remained steadfast in telling stories that illuminate the daily challenges faced by African Americans, particularly those living in the inner city. 

We are honored and fortunate to have worked with John on The People v. O.J. Simpson and the drama series Snowfall, which he co-created and on which he is an executive producer and director.  I know that the cast and crew loved John as much as we did, and that they are heartbroken over this news. Today we lost an incredibly talented artist, leader, activist, partner and friend — far too soon.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.

ICM Partners

John Singleton left an indelible mark on the world through his masterful artistry and uncompromising humanity. He was a visionary filmmaker and social commentator who created a path for a new generation of filmmaker, many of whom he mentored, in a way they never saw possible. His films and the incredible influence they had will be studied forever. John was a consummate professional in every way and an extraordinary friend. We were blessed to have had John in our lives. He is simply gone too soon. We send our love to his family, along with our prayers for comfort and peace.

Dean Elizabeth Daley, USC School of Cinematic Arts 

John will always be a beloved son of this institution. He started “attending” USC even before he was officially a student, while still a teenager in high school in South Los Angeles. Faculty and staff of the time remember him as a precocious film historian, roaming the halls, asking questions about their work, and engaging them in conversations about favorite films, his being Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The success of Boyz n the Hood soon after graduation made him an instant inspiration and role model to our students, a role he embraced without hesitation and performed with wholehearted enthusiasm. He headlined countless workshops and panel discussions, and even taught a class. When the School launched a speaker series focused on diversity, John agreed to be the first guest. Just three weeks ago, on April 8, he was on a panel celebrating SCA’s 90th Anniversary, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  John frequently showed up just to watch films with students, and would stick around long after the official end time of any program to speak with them about their projects.  Importantly, he always brought students into the professional fold, hiring them on his films and television projects.

Gil Robertson IV, President/co-founder of the African American Film Critics Association:

“John Singleton was, without question, one of the most important filmmakers of our generation. With his groundbreaking 1991 debut film, Boyz N the Hood, he brought a sensitivity to urban Black life that was unprecedented for the time. With that film — which he wrote and directed — he painted the challenges as well as joys of growing up Black in Los Angeles during one of its most tumultuous times. That film earned him a Best Director Oscar nomination, making him the youngest and first-ever Black nominee, as well as one for Best Screenplay.

John would continue to flex his versatility throughout his career, helming 2 Fast 2 Furious, the second installment of the big budget franchise and the biggest grossing film of his career in 2003. However, Singleton was most passionate about films about his community, particularly his native South Central Los Angeles. He immediately followed Boyz N the Hood with two other films set primarily in Los Angeles: Poetic Justice (1993), Higher Learning (1995) and Baby Boy (2001) gave a refreshing and personal lens to the identity of urban Black males that was multi-dimensional and spanned a wide variety of viewpoints.

John was a great friend to the Black press and to AAFCA in particular. To me, he was not only an advocate and treasured ally, but also a personal friend. I began covering his work with his second film, Poetic Justice, and feel privileged to have had a front row seat to his amazing journey. Just last year, AAFCA had the tremendous honor of celebrating the 25th anniversary of that very film with him as part of our annual Summer Screening Series.

Over the years, John never shunned the Black press and personally made sure that African American journalists always got ample opportunity to cover his work. When we started the AAFCA Awards a decade ago, John was one of our first presenters. Filmmaking, they say, is very personal and communal and John embodied that. There are countless members of this community that he helped. He championed Craig Brewer in his debut film Hustle & Flow and introduced such actors as Morris Chestnut, Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tyrese, Taraji P. Henson and Angela Bassett to the big screen in leading roles.

Even though he ventured out to do the historic drama Rosewood, telling the hidden story of an all-Black town in Florida that was massacred in 1923, Los Angeles was his forever muse. His most recent co-creation, Snowfall, that chronicles the advent of crack to the city, will premiere its third season in July.

I and AAFCA are not alone in saying that, while our dear friend will be missed, his legacy as a visionary filmmaker and unapologetically Black storyteller will live on forever. We send prayers and continued strength to his mother, his five children and the rest of his family, biological and cinematic, who loved and cherished him. Although we are heartbroken, we are beyond grateful for all that he has given us and the legacy with which he leaves us.

Dear friend, we salute you and we love you.”

Patrick Hipes and Scott Shilstone contributed to this post.

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