John Singleton will go down in history as one of the greatest champions of Black film Hollywood has ever seen.
The Oscar-nominated director who died at the age of 51 on Monday leaves behind a legacy of films that brought the Black experience to the forefront of national conversations at a time when no one was telling our stories.
Here are 5 fascinating facts about the late legend:
He was a Kappa.
John Singleton graduated from from USC in 1990 as a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
He was successful from the start.
His debut film, Boyz N the Hood, hit theaters in 1991 and earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at 24 years old. He was the youngest person and first Black man to be nominated for directing and introduced the world to the acting talents of Morris Chestnut and Ice Cube.
He had a real eye for talent.
He went on to make a long list of projects that showcased the life in the inner-city and gave tons of now famous actors their start. Janet Jackson nabbed her first film role in Singleton’s sophomore film, Poetic Justice in 1993 when she starred alongside Tupac Shakur and Regina King. Tyra Banks landed her first film role in his 1995 release, Higher Learning and Taraji P. Henson took her first stab at the big screen in his 2001 film, Baby Boy.
His talents transcended the big screen.
In 1992, Singleton directed the iconic “short film” for Michael Jackson‘s hit “Remember the Time.” The 9-minute flick that featured Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson, and Iman premiered was a major hit and has inspired countless cameo-heavy music videos ever since. Aside from he nine feature films he directed, John Singleton also created and executive produced FX’s 2017 hit Snowfall as well as episodes of super successful series including Billions, Empire, and American Crime Story.
He had a big heart.
You won’t have to look too hard to find folks sharing sweet stories of how their lives were impacted by John Singleton. Just last week, Shonda Rhimes shared an inspiring story from her time as a student.
“There was a time when I was struggling to pay my bills in film school and not sure this town was for me,” she explained on social media. “And one day, not long after Boyz N The Hood exploded on the scene, my phone rang. It was John Singleton,” She added. “John did not know me at all. But someone at USC had told him I was talented and he was kindly calling to offer me some words of encouragement. He told me to keep writing. I never forgot it.