John Singleton has passed away at the age of 51. He was taken off life support following complications surrounding a stroke he suffered on April 17.
“We want to thank the amazing doctors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital for their expert care and kindness and we again want to thank all of John’s fans, friends and colleagues for all of the love and support they showed him during this difficult time,” his family said in a statement.
Singleton was a history-maker in the film industry. Growing up in South-Central L.A., he would go on to attend the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He shot his first film, Boyz n the Hood, in the neighborhood. It won special honors at Cannes and made Singleton the first Black director and the youngest writer-director overall to be nominated for an Academy Award. Boyz n the Hood’s cultural and historical significance has been well established, as the film was placed in the Library of Congress years later. To this day, he is one of only six Black directors to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. He undoubtedly blazed the path for the rest to follow while redefining how Black cinema looked.
Singleton’s films, including the likes of Poetic Justice, Higher Learning, Shaft and more upstarted the careers and made household names of now-celebrated Black actors and actresses like Regina King, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.
His family’s statement reads, “Singleton’s work spanned genres and showcased his curiosity and creativity: the remake of Shaft, was a homage to his mentor, Gordon Parks. He also made historical films such as Rosewood and action films such as 2 Fast 2 Furious. Films like Baby Boy and Four Brothers were prescient in the questions they posed about men and the crisis in American masculinity. As streaming platforms created new opportunities in television, Singleton took his talents to shows such as Billions, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and Empire. Most recently, he co-created and executive produced the current FX hit drama series Snowfall, in which he engaged such writing talents as Walter Mosley.”
The statement continues, detailing much about Singleton’s personal life: “In his private life, John is a loving and supporting father, son, brother, and friend who believed in higher education, Black culture, old school music and the power of film. John’s confidence in his place in Hollywood was only matched for his passion for the sea. John kayaked in Marina Del Rey every morning. His greatest joy, when not on set, was sailing his boat, J’s Dream, up and down the Pacific Coast. The American writer Willa Cather once said, ‘There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in the storm.’ We who have grown up with John, made movies with him, sailed with John and laughed with John, know the universe of calm and creativity he created for so many. Now in the wake of his death, we must navigate the storm without him. It is, for us, heartbreaking.”
Singleton is survived by his mother, Sheila Ward, his father, Danny Singleton and his children Justice, Maasai, Hadar, Cleopatra, Selenesol, Isis, and Seven. Our thoughts are with his family and all of his loved ones during this time.
Photo: Getty Images