John Singleton, Oscar-Nominated ‘Boyz n the Hood’ Director, Dies at 51
According to numerous reports, John Singleton has died. The Oscar-nominated director director suffered a major stroke over a week ago and never recovered. Singleton was just 51 years old.
Singleton’s filmmaking career began in the early 1990s, when his debut film, Boyz n the Hood, became a major critical and commercial hit. Against a budget of $6.5 million, the film grossed $57.5 million in theaters, and went to become a video and cable staple. Singleton, who drew on his own life growing up in Los Angeles to inspire his screenplay about young men in South Central, was hailed as a major new voice in American filmmaking. He became the youngest director — and the first African American — ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.
Singleton continued making dramas about young African Americans throughout the 1990s, including Poetic Justice and Higher Learning, then began pivoting to larger action films. He directed the 2000 version of the blaxploitation classic Shaft, the first Fast & Furious sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious, and the ensemble crime film Four Brothers. In recent years, he’s shifted focus to television, directing a 30 For 30 documentary and episodes of Empire, American Crime Story, and Billions, in addition to co-creating the FX series Snowfall about the drug trade in 1980s Los Angeles.
Singleton had a huge impact on popular culture and the movie industry, as Boyz n the Hood’s huge success helped spur a rise in movies with similar subject matter and settings. Although Boyz n the Hood has become one of the defining movie of the ’90s, Singleton was still probably underrated as a director. (His Shaft is good, and I always liked Higher Learning and watched it over and over on HBO.) He also had an incredible eye for young talent; consider how many stars got their big breaks in Singleton’s movies. He will be deeply missed.
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