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Remembering John Singleton

On Monday April 29, 2019 the film industry lost one of its greatest filmmakers, John Singleton. Singleton graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1990, and wrote and directed his first feature which was released the following year. The film was a huge success, and earned Singleton his first Oscar nominations for original screenplay and best director. Singleton was one of the youngest filmmakers ever to earn an Academy Award nomination for either category at the age of 24.

This film debut, Boyz n the Hood (1991), was an inner-city drama about growing up in South Central Los Angeles and starred Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, and Ice Cube. Singleton wrote and directed other films, such as Poetic Justice (1993), Higher Learning (1995), and Baby Boy (2001), all of which addressed socially conscious issues. He was a big advocate for black actors and filmmakers, and talked a lot about how big name studios weren’t giving young African-American artists their own platform to tell the stories they wanted to tell. Singleton went on as director-for-hire on films such as 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), Four Brothers (2005), and Abduction (2011). The later films in Singleton’s career didn’t equal the huge success of Boyz n the Hood, but he still had a excellent reputation as one of the industry’s best directors of all time. The writer, director, and producer received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003.

The later directorial career of John Singleton seemed to slow, as his films were neither critically acclaimed or commercially popular. He went on to develop a show for the television network FX, called Snowfall.  Snowfall’s main subject matter is the start of the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles in the early 1980’s. The show was a critical and commercial success and has now been picked up for a third season. John Singleton will be remembered as a pioneer in the film industry and he paved the way for future up-and-coming young African-American filmmakers. John Singleton died of complications from a stroke at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. He is survived by his wife and seven children.

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