American screenwriter and filmmaker John Singleton died aged 51 on Monday in Los Angeles, his family announced in a statement.
Singleton had been hospitalised around two weeks ago after suffering a stroke. Earlier on Monday, his family told Deadline that they would be taking him off life support. “This was an agonising decision, one that our family made, over a number of days, with the careful counsel of John’s doctors,” a representative of the family told the publication.
Born John Daniel Singleton on January 6, 1968, he enrolled for a film writing course at the University of Southern California at the age of 18, where he started working on the script for Boyz N the Hood (1991). His debut film would go on to become a cultural phenomenon and a landmark for African American representation.
Boyz n the Hood earned him the distinction of being the youngest director and first African American nominated for the best director Oscar and also fetched him a Best Original Screenplay nomination. Starring rapper Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr and Morris Chestnut, the film traces three black teens growing up amid gang violence and drugs in a Los Angeles ghetto. The film was also screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991.
More films that highlighted the lives and struggles of African Americans followed with Janet Jackson-starrer Poetic Justice (1993), Rosewood (1997) and Samuel L Jackson-starrer Shaft (2000), a reboot-cum-sequel of the 1971 film of the same name.
While Poetic Justice follows the life of a young hairdresser who tries to cope with her boyfriend’s death through her poems, Rosewood starring Don Cheadle, Jon Voight and Ving Rhames, was based on the 1923 Rosewood massacre in Florida, where numerous black people were lynched by a white mob.
Yet another ghetto-set drama followed with Baby Boy (2001), about a bicycle mechanic (Tyrese Gibson) who learns the ways of life in a Los Angeles neighbourhood. The film co-stars Omar Gooding, Taraji P Henson, AJ Johnson and rapper Snoop Dogg.
His other credits include 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), the second installment in the The Fast and the Furious franchise, and revenge drama Four Brothers (2005) featuring Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson and André Benjamin. His last film was action thriller Abduction (2011), which stars Taylor Lautner as a young man who sets out to uncover the truth about his childhood after his parents are murdered.
Singleton spent his later years working in television, where he directed episodes for shows including Empire (2015) and American Crime Story (2016). He also co-created the popular drug addiction-themed drama Snowfall (2017).
Tributes for the filmmaker poured in on Twitter.