Hollywood pays tribute to John Singleton

Boyz N The Hood director dies at 51

by Amber Wilkinson

Voices from across Hollywood paid tribute to Boyz N The Hood director John Singleton last night after it was announced he had died at the age of 51.

The 1991 film about a trio of young men growing up in LA's South Central saw the filmmaker become the first African-American to be in the running for the Best Director Oscar and, at 24, also the youngest to ever receive the nomination.

His family said Singleton, who suffered a stroke last week, "passed away peacefully" after his life support was switched off.

Musician and actor Ice Cube - who had his first acting role in Boyz N The Hood - was among those leading the tributes. Sharing a photo of the two of them in Cannes in 1990 on Twitter, he wrote: "I was discovered by a master filmmaker by the name of John Singleton. He not only made me a movie star but made me a filmmaker. There are no words to express how sad I am to lose my brother, friend & mentor. He loved bring the black experience to the world."

Rapper and actor Busta Rhymes - who had a role in Singleton's remake of Shaft - wrote an extended tribute on Instagram. He said: "John Singleton was one of my big brothers in this fraternity of the entertainment industry. Gave me guidance, believed in me, and when it came to film he saw greater potential in me that I saw in myself.

"He effortlessly made you feel his interest and genuine concern in you especially if you were apart of him. When he blessed me with the opportunity to be in Higher Learning and Shaft those were a dream come true for me on unspeakable levels. I can’t thank John enough for the love, the lessons, the opportunities and the mentoring that have has given like what a real big brother would do. I salute you big bro and may your transition be the most peaceful King. We will keep your Legacy alive and strong beloved. Blessings and prayers up to the Singleton family."

Juno director Jason Reitman also tweeted: "Heartbroken by the loss of John Singleton. Boyz found a place deep under my ribs and made me hurt in a way that was necessary... Knowing there will be no more Singleton films feels painfully similar."

Singleton was a shining light of African-American filmmaking throughout the Nineties, with films including romantic drama Poetic Justice, starring Janet Jackson in her first film role, and student drama Higher Learning.

Janet Jackson - whose track from Poetic Justice, Again, was nominated for the Best Original Song at the Academy Awards - wrote on Instagram: "You gave me my first movie role, my first Oscar nomination and so much more. Thank you for all you have given to the world through your work and all you have done for Black culture, women and young filmmakers. I will miss you John. Keeping your family in my prayers."

Singleton went on to direct 2 Fast 2 Furious and had, in recent years, focused more on television projects. He directed episodes of Empire, Billions and American Crime Story and returned to the streets of LA as the creator/director/executive producer of crime drama Snowfall, set against the backdrop of the Eighties crack cocaine epidemic in the city.

He will be remembered as a trailblazer, a fact underlined by the tribute paid to him by fellow filmmaker Spike Lee, who wrote on Instagram: "I Will Forever Miss My Brother John Singleton. We Met While He Was A Film Student At USC. Over Many Years People Have Told Me 'I’m Going To Be A Filmmaker', When John Said That To Me The 1st Time We Met, I Believed Him Right Away.

"It Was No Surprise. With His Passion, His Heart, The Way He Talked About His Love For Cinema And Black Folks I Could See John Would Make It Happen, And He Did. From Day One, We Have Remained Close Over The Decades, Cheering Each Other On In This Industry That Is Not Set Up For Us To Win. John Singleton’s Films Will Live On Forever. Blessings And Prayers For His Family. May John Rest In Power. Amen."

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