John Singleton, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind films like Boyz n the Hood, Rosewood and Four Brothers, died Monday after suffering a stroke. He was 51.

Singleton was hospitalized April 17th and he later fell into a coma. Per a statement from his family, he was immediately placed in the hospital’s intensive care unit. “It is with heavy hearts we announce that our beloved son, father and friend John Daniel Singleton will be taken off of life support today,” his family said in a statement. “This was an agonizing decision, one that our family made, over a number of days, with the careful counsel of John’s doctors”

On Twitter, Ava DuVernay summed up Singleton’s impact and legacy, especially among black filmmakers, writing, “There aren’t many of us out here doing this. It’s a small tribe in the grand scheme of things. He was a giant among us. Kind. Committed. And immensely talented. His films broke ground. His films mattered. He will be missed. And long remembered. Thank you, John.”

Samuel L. Jackson, who starred in Singleton’s 2000 remake of Shaftsaid, “Mourning the loss of a collaborator & True Friend John Singleton. He blazed the trail for many young film makers, always remaining true to who he was & where he came from!!! RIP Brother. Gone Way Too Soon!”

Singleton famously became both the first African American and youngest person to be nominated for Best Director at the 1992 Academy Awards after the massive success of his debut film, Boyz n the Hood (he was also nominated for Best Screenplay). The film cast a rare spotlight on parts of Los Angeles that weren’t Hollywood and offered a potent, and equally rare, portrait of an American black family.

Released in July 1991, Boyz n the Hood arrived at a fraught cultural moment, months after the LAPD’s beating of Rodney King, amidst the ongoing crack epidemic, the devastating War on Drugs and continued gang violence. But it was also part of a black arts vanguard — gangsta rap, and hip-hop in general, was more popular than ever (N.W.A.’s Ice Cube famously starred in the film) and Boyz n the Hood was one of 19 movies by black filmmakers that would be released in 1991, more than any other year in the past decade.

Though Boyz n the Hood was a financial and critical success, the film was also myopically maligned as a “gang movie” and much of the early media attention around the film focused on the violence that broke out at theaters on opening weekend. Some also accused the movie of pandering to this violence with a trailer that highlighted the few moments of gunplay in the film, while minimizing the more prominent dramatic elements. In a 1991 interview with Rolling Stone, though, Singleton said he purposely cut the trailer that way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.