Sadly, this morning news initially broke that John Singleton, the beloved director of films such as Boyz n the Hood, Poetic Justice and Shaft (2000) had reportedly passed away. Kansas City’s FOX4 is still reporting that their resident film critic, Shawn Edwards, was informed by the family of the director that he had passed away early Monday morning, following a major stroke that left Singleton in a coma more than a week ago. At the same time, other media entities began reporting that Singleton’s spokesperson was insisting the director was still alive and on life support. Confusion reigned on Twitter for a few hours before the latest confirmation: Singleton’s family has confirmed that the director will be taken off life support today, to pass away shortly thereafter. The director had turned 51 this past January.
“We are grateful to his fans, friends and colleagues for the outpouring of love and prayers during this incredibly difficult time,” said the family in a statement. “We want to thank all the doctors at Cedars Sinai for the impeccable care he received.”
In recent years, Singleton has been known as the co-creator of cocaine drama Snowfall on FX, which has been renewed for a third season. But before that he was the first African-American to ever be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, when he received that honor in 1991 for Boyz n the Hood. Notably, at the age of 24 he was also the youngest person ever nominated for the award at the time—a record that is still standing now, in 2019. In the years that followed, meanwhile, other black creators have followed Singleton’s footsteps in terms of Best Director nominations—Lee Daniels, Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee.
Singleton’s other films included everything from Higher Learning and Four Brothers to the much-parodied 2 Fast 2 Furious. He was considered a guiding light among black filmmakers, and an innovator in the field of dramas that realistically grappled with issues of inner city violence. Tributes will surely begin rolling in from across the web in short order, but in this moment we can simply look toward Ava DuVernay’s thoughtful dedication from a few days ago.
Other tributes are rolling in now as well: