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John Singleton, Oscar-Nominated Boyz n the Hood Director, Dies at 51

John Singleton, the director who defined an era of film with classics like Boyz n the Hood and Poetic Justice, has died, according to TMZ. He was 51 years old.

The director had been in medical care since April 17, when he suffered a stroke. On Monday, a spokesperson for Singletons family announced that they had decided to take him off of life support. He died on Monday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, “peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends,” a rep told TMZ.

While in the hospital, he was also visited by friends and former collaborators including Taraji P. Henson and Tyrese, both of whom starred in his 2001 drama Baby Boy and 2005 drama Four Brothers. Shortly after his stroke, Singletons mother, Shelia Ward, filed to become his conservator and make medical and financial decisions on his behalf. Several of Singletons children are combatting her efforts. Singleton was reportedly set to sign a lucrative settlement agreement around April 30, and was also in the midst of several business deals. Just a few months before his death, Singletons FX series Snowfall was renewed for a third season.

Singleton was an early success story in Hollywood, writing and directing the breakout film Boyz n the Hood at just 23 years old. The trenchant drama, filmed and set in South Central Los Angeles, was a coming-of-age story about a group of black teens struggling to get by in their tough neighborhood. Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, and Angela Bassett, among others, it was a critical success, earning Singleton two Oscar nods for best director and best original screenplay. At just 24 years old, he was the youngest filmmaker to earn the best-directing nod—and he was also the first black filmmaker to be nominated in that category, shattering two glass ceilings at once.

John Singleton on set of his debut film Boyz N the Hood, 1991.

By Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images.

In later interviews, Singleton credited his early success to Spike Lee, who broke down barriers in Hollywood for black filmmakers and helped pave the way for Singletons work. In a 1991 interview, the L.A. native said watching Lees film Shes Gotta Have It and later getting to meet the director at the films opening night solidified his own dreams of becoming a director. He enrolled shortly afterward at the University of Southern Californias filmic writing program, calcifying his artistic mission: “I wasnt into film to get money. I just wanted to make classic films about my people in a way no one had ever done,” Singleton told Rolling Stone.

Singleton followed Boyz n the Hood with several instant classics, including the Janet Jackson and Tupac vehicle Poetic Justice, the college-set Higher Learning, and Baby Boyamong his favorite of his own films.

He also ventured into action, directing Samuel L. Jackson in Shaft in 2000 (a production famously plagued with behind-the-scenes troubles) and 2 Fast 2 Furious in 2003. His career only became more varied from there; Singleton delved into different mediums, directing Michael Jacksons music video for “Remember the Time” and helming episodes of shows like Empire, American Crime Story, and Billions. In 2017, he also waded into the prestige-television game by co-creating Snowfall, an FX series about the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles. It was renewed for a third season in September 2018.

In a 2016 interview, Singleton said that one of the best lessons he learned about managing the rigors of Hollywood came from going sailing, a favorite pastime of his.

“Youre at the mercy of the elements,” he said. “Youre close to God. Its the same as directing . . . in that theres a certain amount that you have thats in your control and theres a lot of a certain amount thats not in your control, but youre able to guide and navigate the whole thing.”

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Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Nicole Kidman, photographed in Franklin, Tennessee. Coat by Dior; shoes by Hermès; tights by Wolford; necklace by Tiffany & Co.Nicole Kidman, photographed in Franklin, Tennessee. Coat by Dior; shoes by Hermès; tights by Wolford; necklace by Tiffany & Co.Photo: Photograph by Collier Schorr; Styled by Samira Nasr.__TO DIE FOR__     Nicole Kidman, photographed in Franklin, Tennessee. Bra by Eres; tights by Wolford; necklace by Tiffany & Co.TO DIE FOR
Nicole Kidman, photographed in Franklin, Tennessee. Bra by Eres; tights by Wolford; necklace by Tiffany & Co.Photo: Photograph by Collier Schorr; Styled by Samira Nasr.Photo: Photograph by Collier Schorr; Styled by Samira Nasr.**My LIFE**     “Nobody motivated me to be an actor; if anything they tried to deter me.” Blouse by Givenchy; earrings by Chopard.My LIFE
“Nobody motivated me to be an actor; if anything they tried to deter me.” Blouse by Givenchy; earrings by Chopard.Photo: Photograph by Collier Schorr; Styled by Samira Nasr.**BIG LITTLE LIFE**    “Were all so different, yet we complement each other. Its so nice, and Ive never had that.” Blouse by Ralph Lauren; pants by Chloé; shoes by Christian Louboutin; necklace by Tiffany & Co.; watch by Omega.BIG LITTLE LIFE
“Were all so different, yet we complement each other. Its so nice, and Ive never had that.” Blouse by Ralph Lauren; pants by Chloé; shoes by Christian Louboutin; necklace by Tiffany & Co.; watch by Omega.Photo: Photograph by Collier Schorr; Styled by Samira Nasr.**the UPSIDE**   “Im far more raw and honest now, because before I used to be so scared.” Clothing by Bottega Veneta; earrings by Chopard.the UPSIDE
“Im far more raw and honest now, because before I used to be so scared.” Clothing by Bottega Veneta; earrings by Chopard.Photo: Photograph by Collier Schorr; Styled by Samira Nasr.**DOGMA**    “I wouldnt say its absolutism, theres constant questioning,” says Kidman. “Im a willful, feisty girl.” Coat by Dior; necklace by Tiffany & Co. Throughout: hair products by Rodin; makeup by Neutrogena.DOGMA
“I wouldnt say its absolutism, theres constant questioning,” says Kidman. “Im a willful, feisty girl.” Coat by Dior; necklace by Tiffany & Co. Throughout: hair products by Rodin; makeup by Neutrogena.Photo: Photograph by Collier Schorr; Styled by Samira Nasr.PreviousNext

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