On April 29, the African American Steering Committee (AASC) presented a special evening in honor of Director John Singleton. The evening celebrated the groundbreaking filmmaker who became both the youngest person and the first African American ever to be nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Director with his 1991 debut feature Boyz n the Hood.
Following a VIP reception in the Guild’s Los Angeles headquarters atrium, DGA members and guests filled Theater One nearly to capacity and the evening kicked off with a brief presentation about the history and role of the Committee delivered by AASC Co-Chair Oz Scott, and a welcome from DGA 1st Vice President Paris Barclay. Then AASC Co-Chair Abdul Malik Abbott introduced a screening of retrospective clips from John Singleton’s films curated by himself and Director Reginald D. Brown and narrated by Director Carl Weathers.
The screening was followed by a veritable parade of special guest speakers, each with their own amusing and/or moving anecdote about working with Singleton on a wide variety of productions, or being befriended by him. The speakers included: Directors Mario Van Peebles (Baadasssss!), Peter Ramsey (Poetic Justice), Craig Brewer and Producer Stephanie Allain (Hustle & Flow); Producer Steve Nicolaides and actors Ice Cube and Regina King (Boyz n the Hood); Producer/UPM Dwight Williams and Actress Elise Neal (Rosewood); Actors Taraji P. Henson, Tyrese Gibson, A.J. Johnson (Baby Boy), and Cole Hauser (Higher Learning); Producer Paul Hall (Shaft); Editor Bruce Cannon (Abduction); and Singleton’s childhood friend Michael Winters who was the inspiration for a character in Boyz n the Hood.
After the tributes, AASC Co-Chair Bill Duke introduced the evening’s honoree and the moderator, Director Reginald Hudlin, who engaged in a conversation about Singleton’s work illustrated with clips from his films Boyz n the Hood, Rosewood, Shaft, Baby Boy and Four Brothers.
A Los Angeles native and a graduate of Pasadena City College as well as the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Singleton made his feature film debut in 1991 with Boyz n the Hood. The film garnered him Academy Award® nominations for Best Screenplay and Best Director. Boyz n the Hood also earned him the 1992 MTV Movie Award for Best New Filmmaker. In 2002, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Singleton’s other directorial credits include the feature films Poetic Justice (1993), Higher Learning (1995), Rosewood (1997), Shaft (2000), Baby Boy (2001), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), Four Brothers (2005), and Abduction (2011); as well as the “Marion Jones: Press Pause” episode of the ESPN television series 30 for 30 (2010); and the Michael Jackson music video Remember the Time (1993). He has also produced highly successful feature films including Franc. Reyes' Illegal Tender (2007) and Craig Brewer's Black Snake Moan (2006), and Hustle & Flow (2005), which won the Oscar® for Best Original Song. Singleton also made a rare appearance in front of the camera for Mario Van Peebles’ BAADASSSSS! (2003) in the role of "Detroit J."
Singleton, who joined the DGA in 1990, is currently serving in his second term as a member of the Western Directors Council. He previously served three years as an alternate on the Western Directors Council and one year as an alternate on the DGA National Board.