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Mon, 01.22.1968

John Singleton, Film Director, born

John Singleton

 *John Singleton was born on this date in 1968.  He was a Black Film director.  

John Daniel Singleton was born in Los Angeles, the son of Sheila Ward-Johnson, a pharmaceutical company sales executive, and Danny Singleton, a real estate agent, mortgage broker, and financial planner.  He attended Blair High School, Pasadena City College, and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He graduated from USC in 1990 and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.  He had considered pursuing computer science but enrolled in USC's Film Writing program under Margaret Mehring.  The program was designed to take students directly into the Hollywood system as proficient writers/directors. He cited the original Star Wars film as one of his strongest influences and the work of Steven Spielberg as a source of inspiration. 

Singleton's film debut, Boyz n the Hood (1991), an inner-city drama starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Angela Bassett, Ice Cube, and Laurence Fishburne, was both a critical and commercial success. For his efforts, Singleton received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director.  At age 24, he was the youngest person ever nominated for Best Director and the first African American to be nominated for the award. (Four others; Lee Daniels, Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele, and Spike Lee, have been nominated since.) The film has since attained classic status, and in 2002, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.  

His directing ability led to the "Remember the Time" music video for Michael Jackson. His next films were Poetic Justice (1993) and Higher Learning (1995).  The film Rosewood (1997), Singleton's historical drama about racial violence, was entered into the 47th Berlin International Film Festival.  This film and Baby Boy (2001) received positive reviews and helped establish Singleton's critical reputation. Additionally, his adaptation of Shaft (2000), starring Samuel L. Jackson in the title role, was successful critically and commercially.  Singleton later turned to direct action films, such as 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and Four Brothers (2005).  Also, in 2005, he teamed with Craig Brewer and financed the independent film Hustle and Flow.  After directing episodes of the TV shows Empire and American Crime Story, he served as an executive producer of the crime drama series Rebel for BET and co-created Snowfall for FX.  

Singleton had five children. His former wife, Tosha Lewis, had a daughter named Justice Maya Singleton (born in 1992) and a son, Maasai Mohandas Singleton (born in 1994).  In 1996, he married Ghanaian actress Akosua Gyamama Busia, the daughter of Ghana's second Prime Minister, Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia. The couple had a daughter named Hadar Singleton, born in 1997, who appeared in Tears of the Sun (2003) and other films. Singleton and Busia divorced in June 1997. He also had daughters, Cleopatra Singleton (born in 1998) and Isis (born in 2010), with Mitzi Andrews, an actress/model based in Toronto, Canada.  

In 2014, Singleton criticized popular studios for "refusing to let African Americans direct black-themed films." The black films now—so-called black films now—they're great. They're great films. But they're just products. They're not moving the bar forward creatively. ...When you try to make it homogenized, when you try to make it appeal to everybody, then you don't have anything that's special.  In 2017, Singleton was accused of sexual harassment by a journalist who interviewed him.  

On April 17, 2019, Singleton suffered a stroke and was placed under intensive care at an undisclosed hospital.  On April 29, Singleton was removed from life support, and he died at 51 at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.  

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