Biography

John Singleton Biography, Early Life, Career, Influences, Legacy, Personal Life, Trivia, Net Worth & more

John Singleton Biography

John Daniel Singleton (January 6, 1968–April 28, 2019) was an American director, screenwriter, and producer. He made his feature film debut writing and directing Boyz n the Hood (1991), for which he was nominated for the Academy category for Best Director, becoming, at the age of 24, the first African American and youngest person ever to be nominated for that category.

Singleton went on to write and direct several other films, including the romantic drama Poetic Justice (1993), the socially conscious drama Higher Learning (1995), the historical drama Rosewood (1997), the crime film Shaft (2000), the coming-of-age drama Baby Boy (2001), and the action films 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and Four Brothers (2005). He co-created the crime drama Snowfall and directed episodes of Empire, Rebel, and the fifth episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special for the latter.

Singleton, one of the most popular and pioneering directors in African-American cinema, and his films depicted the African-American experience in metropolitan areas, focusing on topics like black manhood, trauma, racism, and identity. Singleton frequently casts rappers and musicians in major parts, including Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, Janet Jackson, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Tyrese Gibson, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, and André 3000.

John Singleton Biography
                 John Singleton Biography

John Singleton Quick Facts

  • Name: John Singleton
  • Birth Year: 1968
  • Birth date: January 6, 1968
  • Birth State: California
  • Birth City: Los Angeles
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: Screenwriter and filmmaker John Singleton’s ‘Boyz n the Hood’ earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Filmmaker, making him the first African-American to receive the honor.
  • Industries
    • Drama
  • Astrological Sign: Capricorn
  • Schools
    • University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts
  • Occupations
    • Producer
    • Director
    • Screenwriter
  • Death Year: 2019
  • Death date: April 29, 2019
  • Death State: California
  • Death City: Los Angeles
  • Death Country: United States

John Singleton’s Early Life

John Singleton was born in Los Angeles on January 6, 1968, as the son of Shelia Ward-Johnson (later Morgan), a pharmaceutical company sales executive, and Danny Singleton, a real estate agent, mortgage broker, and financial planner. In a 1993 DIRT magazine interview with Veronica Chambers, Singleton recalls his childhood: “When I was growing up, comic books, video games, and movies were my buffer against all the drugs, partying, and trash. I never grew up around a lot of white people. “I grew up in a Black neighborhood.” He went to Eisenhower High School, Blair High School, Pasadena City College, and the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Singleton was initiated into Kappa Alpha Psi’s Beta Omega Chapter in the spring of 1987 and graduated from USC in 1990. Singleton considered studying computer technology, but instead enrolled in USC’s Filmic Writing department under Margaret Mehring. The program’s goal was to prepare students to enter the Hollywood system as skilled writers and directors.

John Singleton Career
                    John Singleton Career

John Singleton Career

Singleton made his cinematic debut in 1991 with Boyz n the Hood, a coming-of-age crime drama about three boyhood friends growing up in the crime-ridden neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. The picture, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Angela Bassett, Regina King, and Laurence Fishburne, was both critically and commercially successful. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Singleton’s efforts earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. At the age of 24, he became the youngest Best Director nominee in history and the first African-American nominee. In 2002, the United States Library of Congress designated the film as “culturally significant” and chose it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Following the success of Boyz n the Hood in 1992, Singleton directed Michael Jackson’s VFX-driven “Remember the Time” music video, which starred Eddie Murphy, Iman, and Magic Johnson. The song and music video were well-received, peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, number one on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles, and the Mainstream Top 40 chart. The RIAA certified it three times platinum. The song peaked at number one in New Zealand, second in Spain, and third in the United Kingdom.

In 1993, Singleton wrote and directed his second film, Poetic Justice, a romantic drama about a young African-American woman named Justice (played by Janet Jackson in her film debut) who writes poetry to cope with the loss of her boyfriend to gun violence but soon meets a postal worker (played by Tupac Shakur) who helps her overcome depression. Critics gave the film mixed reviews, however, Jackson did garner Academy Award and Golden Globe nods for Best Original Song for “Again,” which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The film has gained a cult following, particularly due to the chemistry between Jackson and Shakur, and is today regarded as one of Singleton’s most enduring works.

Singleton wrote and directed Higher Learning (1995), a socially conscious drama about high racial and socioeconomic tension on a university campus. Similar to Poetic Justice, the film received mixed reviews. Singleton describes his collaborations with some of the most prominent rappers of the 1990s as follows:

“I’m from the same place as rappers. It’s cool since it’s simply another method of communication. I share the same sensibility as rappers. I’m not a bourgeois who thinks he’s superior to others. I consider myself the first filmmaker from the hip-hop generation. I grew up with hip-hop music. The films I create have a hip-hop aesthetic. It may not include rap, but there is a culture and politics that accompany the music. My videos focus on young, black culture.

2000s: Continued success

In 2000, Singelton co-wrote, co-produced, and directed Shaft, a sequel remake of the 1971 film of the same name starring Richard Roundtree. The film, starring Samuel L. Jackson as Shaft’s relative, John Shaft Jr., earned generally excellent reviews and was a box office hit, grossing more than $107 million worldwide.

In 2001, ten years after the release of Boyz n the Hood, Singleton wrote, produced, and directed Baby Boy, a coming-of-age comedy-drama about Jody Summers (played by Tyrese Gibson), a 20-year-old man who fathers two children by two different women- Yvette (played by Taraji P. Henson) and Peanut (played by Tamara LaSeon Bass) but still lives with his mother (played by Adrienne-Joi Johnson) while living and learning in his everyday life in the Los Angeles hood. The film garnered mostly excellent reviews, with many describing it as Singleton’s return to form and one of his best films.

Singleton’s next film was 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), the follow-up to The Fast and the Furious (2001) and the second installment in the Fast and Furious franchise. The film was a box office smash, collecting more than $236 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing picture in the franchise at the time, as well as Singleton’s career.

Singleton teamed up with writer-director Craig Brewer in 2005 to fund and produce the independent film Hustle and Flow, after it became evident that most other major investors would not approve its distribution. Terrence Howard stars in the film as a Memphis hustler and pimp who pursues his dream of becoming a rapper. The film, which also starred Anthony Anderson and Taraji P. Henson in supporting roles, got favorable reviews and was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actor and Best Original Song, which it won.

That same year, Singleton directed Four Brothers, a blaxploitation-inspired action picture starring Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, André Benjamin, and Garrett Hedlund as four adopted brothers who return to Detroit, Michigan, to avenge their adoptive mother’s murder. The film garnered mixed reviews from critics but made $92 million worldwide.

In 2003, Singleton received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

2010s: Unrealized projects

Before F. Gary Gray was hired in August 2012, Singleton was in talks with Ice Cube, who had previously collaborated with him on Boyz n the Hood and Higher Learning, about directing a biopic about Cube’s rap group N.W.A. The film was released in 2015 and received great reviews and box office success.

Two years later, in 2013, Singleton was hired to write and film a biopic on rapper Tupac Shakur’s life, career, and death. On April 3, 2015, Singleton stated that production had been halted. Following creative disputes with Morgan Creek Productions, Singleton stepped down as director and was replaced by Carl Franklin. Singleton also indicated that he intended to make a competitive film about Tupac.

The film was eventually released in 2017 as All Eyez on Me, which was poorly received by critics and audiences, as well as Singleton himself, who had planned to make his biopic about Shakur as well as a biopic about the rap group Three 6 Mafia, who collaborated with Singleton on Hustle & Flow before he died in 2019.

2017–2019: Transition to television and final years

Singleton spent the final years of his career focused on television after the critically panned action thriller film Abduction (2011).

After directing episodes of the critically acclaimed TV shows Empire and American Crime Story, he served as an executive producer and director of the crime drama series Rebel for BET in 2017, which focuses on Oakland police officer Rebecca “Rebel” Knight, who began working as a private investigator after police killed her brother.

Singleton co-created and executive-produced the crime drama series Snowfall for FX, which aired on July 5, 2017. Singleton co-wrote the screenplays for the first two episodes with series creators Eric Amadio and Dave Andron, and he also directed the first two season finales. The series stars Damson Idris as Franklin Saint, a young drug dealer from South Central Los Angeles, and exposes how the community is affected by the 1980s crack epidemic, as well as the CIA’s participation in drug trafficking. This was one of Singleton’s last creations before he died in 2019.

John Singleton's Influences and themes
    John Singleton’s Influences and themes

John Singleton’s Influences and themes

Singleton acknowledged the first Star Wars picture as one of his most significant influences, as well as the works of filmmaker Steven Spielberg and writer August Wilson. Singleton was influenced by his buddy and fellow filmmaker, Spike Lee. The two first met in 1986, during a screening of Lee’s film She’s Gotta Have It, two weeks before Singleton arrived at USC.

Singleton’s films have been praised for their accurate portrayal of the black experience in America, which also incorporates hip-hop energy and style. His films frequently focus on black masculinity, violence, racism and ethnicity, racial prejudice, trauma, and other political issues.

John Singleton Legacy

Singleton, who was the first African-American to be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards in 1992 for Boyz n the Hood, opened the path for several other African-American directors, including Jordan Peele, Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay, Steve McQueen, and Barry Jenkins.

John Singleton’s Personal Life

Singleton was a father of seven children. He and his wife, Tosha Lewis, welcomed their first daughter, Justice Maya Singleton (born 1992), who was named after the principal character in Poetic Justice (played by Janet Jackson) and the poet Maya Angelou.

Singleton has a son named Maasai Singleton (born April 3, 1996) and a daughter named Cleopatra “Cleo” Singleton (born September 6, 1998) with ex-girlfriend Vestria Barlow. On October 12, 1996, Singleton married Ghanaian actress Akosua Gyamama Busia, the daughter of Ghana’s second Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia. The couple have a daughter, Hadar Busia-Singleton (born April 3, 1997), who appears in Tears of the Sun (2003) and other films. Singleton and Busia got divorced in June 1997. In 2010, he had a daughter with Mitzi Andrews, a Toronto-based actor, model, and teacher. He also has a son, Seven, with Rayvon Jones.

Singleton pled no contest to minor violence charges in 1999 after hitting his ex-girlfriend during a child visitation dispute. He was sentenced to three years probation and told to create a film about domestic abuse.

On August 23, 2007, Singleton was engaged in a car accident in which he collided with a jaywalker, Constance Russell, 57, of Los Angeles. Singleton remained on the site until the police arrived, was not under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and was released following questioning. Russell died later in the hospital. The case was handed over to the District Attorney, but no charges were ever brought.

Singleton chastised popular studios for “refusing to let African-Americans direct black-themed films” on March 19, 2014. Singleton informed an audience of students at Loyola Marymount University “They ain’t letting the black people tell the stories.” He also stated, “They want black people to be whatever they want them to be.” Nobody is man enough to say that. They want black people to be how they want them to be, not what they are. The black films now—so-called black flicks—are fantastic. They’re an excellent movie. But they’re only products. They are not raising the bar in terms of creativity. When you try to make it homogenized, when you try to make it appeal to everyone, you don’t have anything unique.

John Singleton Death

Singleton had a stroke on April 17, 2019, and was admitted to the intensive care unit. He developed leg weakness after returning to the United States following a trip to Costa Rica. On April 25, it was claimed that he was in a coma, however his daughter denied this. Singleton, 51, died on April 28 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after being taken off life support.

Dozens of stars and musicians paid tribute to him.

Ice Cube, an American rapper and actor who collaborated with Singleton on Boyz n the Hood and Higher Learning, stated, “There are no words to express how sad I am to lose my brother, friend, and mentor.” “He loved bringing the black experience to the world.”

On May 6, 2019, Singleton had a private funeral in Los Angeles and was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills. The official causes of death were acute ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, and hypertension.

John Singleton Trivia
              John Singleton Trivia

John Singleton Trivia

Was the youngest person to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Director (at the age of 24) in 1992.

He was the first African American to be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards.

He directed one film, Boyz n the Hood (1991), which was chosen for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically” significant.

Ice Cube’s acting career began; on the Queen Latifah Show (1999), Ice Cube said that John Singleton screen-tested him to see whether he could act.

Laurence Fishburne and I met while he was a PA on Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986). Fishburne played Cowboy Curtis.

He worked as an intern for The Arsenio Hall Show (1989) while developing the script for Boyz n the Hood (1991), where he also met Ice Cube, who went on to appear in the film.

I loved collecting and reading comic books.

Hadar Busia-Singleton, daughter of Ghanaian princess Akosua Busia, was born on April 3, 1997.

Singleton identified The Gunfighter (1950) as the picture that most influenced him.

Singleton discovered “that the film business was controlled by screenplays” while attending high school.

Singleton was admitted into the elite Film Writing Program at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television after graduating high school in 1986. During his four-year studies, he received three writing honors. Singleton’s writing achievements landed him a contract with the renowned Creative Artists Agency during his second year at USC. Columbia intended to make the film but initially wanted someone else to helm it. Singleton believed only he could accomplish this, and he did.

Favorite movies included Bicycle Thieves (1948), The 400 Blows (1959), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Jaws (1975), and Raging Bull (1980).

I taught an Advanced Directing Class at the University of Southern California (spring 1997).

I grew up adjacent to a drive-in movie theater and watched movies from my home window.

I was a major admirer of Westerns. Many of the shots in his films were inspired by the genre.

Favorite directors were Orson Welles, François Truffaut, Steven Spielberg, Akira Kurosawa, John Cassavetes, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola.

On August 26, 2003, he received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6915 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

Has a daughter, Cleopatra Singleton (born 1993), who starred in Baby Boy (2001).

Was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Crossed in Spring 1987 at Beta Omega Chapter (USC,

Pepperdine, and LMU).

Attended and graduated from the USC School of Cinema-Television in 1990.

I’m friends with Tyrese Gibson.

Has two children with his ex-wife Tosha Lewis: Justice Maya Singleton (born October 17, 1992) and Maasai Mohandas Singleton (born April 3, 1994).

His process for scripting a new movie included purchasing a small three-hole notebook, a new pack of lined paper, and a pack of black PaperMate pens (not blue or red).

Blair High School in Pasadena, California, is where I graduated in 1986.

Los Angeles, California: Honored by the Directors Guild of America’s African-American Steering Committee.

I’m friends with Morris Chestnut.

We had family and friends in Switzerland.

Who Was John Singleton?

Singleton, one of the most popular and pioneering directors in African-American cinema, and his films depicted the African-American experience in metropolitan areas, focusing on topics like black manhood, trauma, racism, and identity.

John Singleton was born on January 6, 1968, in Los Angeles, California. His 1991 feature film debut, Boyz n the Hood, earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Following the win, Singleton released Poetic Justice in 1993 and Higher Learning in 1995. Rosewood was released in 1997, followed by a remake of Shaft in 2000 and Baby Boy in 2001. In 2005, he produced Hustle & Flow and directed Four Brothers. The filmmaker passed away on April 29, 2019, from a stroke.

What is John Singleton’s height, and weight?

He is 1.88 meters tall and weighs 104 kilograms.

What is John Singleton’s Nationality and Ethnicity?

John Singleton is an African American who was born in Harbor City, California.

What is John Singleton’s profession?

John Singleton is a pro baseball player. He is a first baseman who has previously played in Major League Baseball (MLB) and is currently with the Houston Astros.

Who is John Singleton’s Parents?

Jonathan’s father, Herb Singleton, was a junior quarterback at the University of Oregon who briefly tried out for the Seattle Seahawks in 1976 but did not make the squad. However, there is no record of her mother.

Who is John Singleton married to?

John is married to Linzy Singleton.

What position does John Singleton play?

John Singleton plays as a first baseman in baseball.

What is John Singleton best known for?

He was best known for his directorial debut, Boyz n the Hood (1991). Born: January 6, 1968, in Los Angeles, California, U.S. Singleton was raised near the violence-ridden south-central section of Los Angeles.

How did John Singleton make his money?

He built his success and wealth in the advertising business in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. He now has diverse investment interests in radio broadcasting, publishing, and thoroughbred breeding and racing.

What was John Singleton worth when he died?

John Singleton was reportedly worth around $35 million at the time of his death. Singleton, the first African-American man to be nominated for a Best Directing Oscar, died on Monday after being taken off of life support following a stroke.

What teams did John Singleton play for?

John Singleton has played for several teams during his professional baseball career.

  1. Houston Astros (2014–2015): Singleton made his MLB debut with the Houston Astros on June 3, 2014, and played with the team until 2015.
  2. Milwaukee Brewers (2023): Singleton briefly played for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2023.
  3. Houston Astros (2023–present): Singleton returned to the Houston Astros in 2023 and is currently affiliated with the team.
Team Years
Houston Astros 2014–2015, 2023–present
Milwaukee Brewers 2023

 

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