At 24, John Singleton became the first African American and the youngest person to be nominated for an Academy Award for best director for his “Boyz N the Hood” (1991), a harrowing tale of childhood friends growing up in South Central Los Angeles. Based on Singleton’s life experiences, the film begins with the memorable words “1 in 21 black males die of murder,” and “Most will be killed by other black males,” flashing across the screen.
Most of Singleton’s films broach themes of inner-city tension and racial divides, including “Poetic Justice” (1993), starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur; “Baby Boy” (2001), a follow-up to “Boyz N the Hood;” and “Rosewood” (1997), a historical film depicting the 1923 lynching massacre in a Florida town, starring Don Cheadle, Ving Rhames and Jon Voight.
Singleton, the son of a mortgage broker and a pharmaceutical company sales executive, was raised in separate households by his unmarried parents. After graduating from high school in 1986, he went to USC’s film school and won three awards, which led to a contract with Creative Artists Agency during his sophomore year. Columbia Pictures purchased Singleton’s senior thesis script, “Boyz N the Hood,” and gave him the chance to direct it.
More recently, Singleton went on to direct, produce and write the screenplay for the remake of “Shaft” (2000), starring Samuel L. Jackson. He also produced “Hustle & Flow” (2005) and “Black Snake Moan” (2006).
“Boyz N the Hood” was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1992 and won many awards, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. New Generation Award in 1991.
|1991||Best Director||Boyz N the Hood||Nomination|
|1991||Best Original Screenplay||Boyz N the Hood||Nomination|