Variety reported this afternoon that director John Singleton died after being taken off life support. Singleton was 51.
This comes only 12 days after the filmmaker had suffered a stroke and then slipped into a coma. Singleton will forever be remembered in the cinematic time capsule for his directorial debut, 1991’s “Boyz in the Hood,” for which he was nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. Singleton was just 23 at the time of the nomination, which made him the youngest director to ever get a nod, not to mention the first African-American to do so as well.
He never surpassed “Boyz n the Hood” in his career. It was his gold-standard achievement. The next 28 years would have him dangling around the studio system, sometimes as a hired hand (“Shaft,” “2 Fast 2 Furious,” and “Four Brothers”) and other times for more personal filmmaking (Higher Learning,” “Baby Boy,” Rosewood,” and “Poetic Justice.”)
I wrote about “Boyz n the Hood” [for IndieWire] back in 2014:
“John Singleton was the youngest director to ever get nominated for an Oscar at the young age of 23. His classic "hood" movie "Boyz ‘n the Hood" kickstarted an influx of Compton-influenced films that focused on the political and dynamic part of being black in America. "Do The Right Thing," of course, is the incendiary masterpiece of the genre — which came before "Boyz" — but Singleton changed the game. As Ice Cube recently explained, "When we first did the movie ‘Boyz ‘n the Hood,’ we felt like we was teaching America about a part of itself that they don’t see." It was a tremendously important movie, as it showed the country that characters like Dough Boy who, in the film, says that America "don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood," existed everywhere, and that their plight was just as important as any other American’s. It is unfortunately still a relevant movie to this day, almost 25 years later.”