The passing of trailblazing filmmaker John Singleton sent shockwaves throughout an industry he helped shape. Singleton — who had suffered a stroke less than two weeks ago and was pulled off from life support Monday at the age of 51 — was a true Hollywood pioneer. With Boyz N the Hood, his 1991 debut, he turned his camera on a community then rarely seen on movie screens: the low-income South Central section of Los Angeles. It also made him both the first black filmmaker nominated for the Best Director Oscar, as well as the youngest.
Boyz N the Hood also established a trend that flowed through Singleton’s career: working with incredible actors, some of whom he either discovered or made stars. His first film featured future Oscar winners Cuba Gooding Jr. and Regina King, Ice Cube (in his screen debut), Nia Long, and Morris Chestnut. That’s to say nothing of Laurence Fishburne and a pre-What’s Love Got to Do With It Angela Bassett.
With subsequent films — such as Poetic Justice, Higher Learning, Rosewood, the 2000 remake of Shaft, Baby Boy, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Four Brothers, and more — Singleton was able to amass an incredible stable of actors: Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Jennifer Connelly, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Esther Rolle, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeffrey Wright, Christian Bale, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, André Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund, and Mark Wahlberg.