John Singleton Remembered as a ‘Genius': ‘Thank You for Your Vision’

“Thank you for holding my hand a little stronger,” “Boyz N the Hood” star Morris Chestnut writes

Last Updated: April 29, 2019 @ 3:45 PM

John Singleton was remembered across the film, TV, music, media and sports communities on Monday, with admirers ranging from Regina King, Chance the Rapper, Magic Johnson and more singing the praises of the deceased “Boyz N the Hood” filmmaker.

“A Genius,” Janelle Monae said Monday in reaction to news of the director’s passing at age 51. “Thank you for capturing US like no other.”

Singleton died Monday at 51 after suffering a stroke 13 days earlier.

Morris Chestnut, one of the stars who Singleton discovered for his debut film “Boyz N the Hood,” said in an Instagram post that Singleton gave him “a chance” and helped scores of black individuals see themselves better.

“People from all over the world literally tell me how they’re affected by ‘Boyz N the Hood.’ The magnitude and world-wide impact that his ground-breaking film would have for society cannot be measured,” Chestnut said. “Helping to bring awareness of what it takes to come to maturity as a black male in the ‘Hood, or die trying… Helping to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced. Dealing with challenges and adversity in life and in general. From that lesson, for anyone who watches ‘Boyz N the Hood,’ we are able to learn a little more about ourselves and each other. Hopefully, we are able to grow, evolve and gain a deeper love and understanding of our humanity.”

Many others in Hollywood, including Ava DuVernay, David Simon and Yvette Nicole Brown, championed the director’s career, which included films such as “2 Fast 2 Furious,” “Shaft” and “Poetic Justice.”

“John Singleton was, without question, one of the most important filmmakers of our generation. With his groundbreaking 1991 debut film, ‘Boyz N the Hood,’ he brought a sensitivity to urban Black life that was unprecedented for the time. With that film — which he wrote and directed — he painted the challenges as well as joys of growing up Black in Los Angeles during one of its most tumultuous times,” Gil Robertson IV, president and co-founder of the African American Film Critics Association, said in a statement.

“John didn’t just make his feature film debut in 1991 with ‘Boyz N the Hood,’ he exploded into Hollywood, our culture and our consciousness with such a powerful cinematic depiction of life in the inner city,” Directors Guild President Thomas Schlamme said in a statement. “I was so fortunate to be a collaborator with John on the show ‘Snowfall,’ and witnessed first-hand the enormous impact he had on so many. Despite such a busy and successful career, John prioritized his service at the Guild on the Western Directors Council, as former co-chair of the African-American Steering Committee, and as an alternate on our National Board –  showing up to support his fellow members every chance that he got. Our hearts are heavier today at the DGA, as we mourn this tremendous loss.”

Singleton also more recently made a foray into television, directing episodes of the show “Snowfall” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson” for FX. FX Networks Chairman John Landgraf issued a statement Monday praising the “incredibly talented artist, leader, activist, partner and friend.”

“Over the course of his illustrious career, John remained steadfast in telling stories that illuminate the daily challenges faced by African Americans, particularly those living in the inner city,” Landgraf said. “We are honored and fortunate to have worked with John on ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’ and the drama series ‘Snowfall,’ which he co-created and on which he is an executive producer and director.  I know that the cast and crew loved John as much as we did, and that they are heartbroken over this news.”

Singleton got his start as a student at the USC School of Cinematic Arts before making “Boyz N the Hood,” and his children Justice and Maasai are both alumni of the school. Dean Elizabeth Daley and chairman Frank Price each issued statements in the wake of Singleton’s passing.

“John will always be a beloved son of this institution. He started “attending” USC even before he was officially a student, while still a teenager in high school in South Los Angeles. Faculty and staff of the time remember him as a precocious film historian, roaming the halls, asking questions about their work, and engaging them in conversations about favorite films, his being Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai.’ The success of ‘Boyz N the Hood’ soon after graduation made him an instant inspiration and role model to our students, a role he embraced without hesitation and performed with wholehearted enthusiasm,” Daley said in a statement. “He headlined countless workshops and panel discussions, and even taught a class. When the School launched a speaker series focused on diversity, John agreed to be the first guest. Just three weeks ago, on April 8, he was on a panel celebrating SCA’s 90th Anniversary, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. John frequently showed up just to watch films with students, and would stick around long after the official end time of any program to speak with them about their projects.  Importantly, he always brought students into the professional fold, hiring them on his films and television projects. We will forever be grateful for John’s unwavering love of the School of Cinematic Arts and its students. John brought South Los Angeles into SCA, inspiring other talented filmmakers from the neighborhoods around the School to come through the doors. He bulldozed his way into an industry that was not always welcoming, and did so with projects that reflected his community, his culture, and his passions. He is a giant in our hearts.”

“My wife Katherine and I are deeply saddened by the news of John Singleton’s passing. When I was asked to form a board of advisors for the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1991, my greatest motivation in saying yes was my relationship with John, who exemplified the School’s reputation for finding and nurturing extraordinary talent,” Price said in a statement. “Just a few years before, as the chairman of Columbia Pictures, I made one of the best decisions of my career in buying the script of ‘Boyz N the Hood’ and hiring John to direct it. Since then, I have been honored to call him my friend. Over the years he has sent me first drafts of his scripts, from which I always learned something new about our place as Americans, and as human beings. I will miss his friendship, our conversations, and his contributions to our industry. Katherine and I send condolences to his mother, his children, and their family members.”

Read more of the reactions to Singleton’s passing below:

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This is where it all started. The Genesis – The Genius – The Genre Maker/Star Maker (Taraji P. Henson, Ice Cube, Tyrese Gibson, Lawrence Fishburne, Regina King,Nia Long, Angela Basset, Cuba Gooding, Jr. – in no particular order as these are all great actors/actresses). John Singleton gave me a chance. When I left the audition for "Boyz N' The Hood" as he shook my hand, he gave me a stronger grip than normal and looked me in the eye. I felt he was basically giving me a signal that I had the job without telling me. From there, there was no comprehension of the massive chain of events that were about to follow. People from all over the world literally tell me how they’re affected by Boyz ‘N The Hood. The magnitude and world-wide impact that his ground-breaking film would have for society cannot be measured. Helping to bring awareness of what it takes to come to maturity as a black male in the 'Hood, or die trying… Helping to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced. Dealing with challenges and adversity in life and in general. From that lesson, for anyone who watches Boyz N’ The Hood, we are able to learn a little more about ourselves and each other. Hopefully, we are able to grow, evolve and gain a deeper love and understanding of our humanity. John Singleton, thank you for your vision. Thank you for holding my hand a little stronger. Thank you for connecting with me and thank you for connecting me to history. Thank you for connecting and transcending generations, nationalities, nations, races, communities, societies. Thank you, John Singleton, for connecting us all. #RIP #JohnSingleton

A post shared by Morris Chestnut (@morrischestnutofficial) on