John Singleton
Birth Date:
January 6, 1968
Birth Place:
Los Angeles, California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
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Boyz N the Hood


“With Boyz N the Hood, my whole thing at the time, as a first-time filmmaker, was not to look like a first time filmmaker. But it was literally the first time I was behind the camera. I hadn't done anything with sync sound; I had only done Super8 films. So I studied Citizen Kane, everything I could about people who did films for the first time, and I learned that the successful ones didn't move the camera just for the sake of moving the camera. They moved the camera to serve the story. I tried to be very, very succinct in a way and focused in the way I tell the story and not try to show how fancy I can be. I just move to move the story forward, to further the dramatic intent or the emotional intent of the story.” John Singleton (on making his feature film directing debut)

An Academy Award nominated film director, screenwriter and producer whose work often depicts his native South Los Angeles roots, John Singleton was shot to stardom with his spectacular debut, “Boyz N the Hood” (1991), a coming-of-age crime/drama that was critically and commercially successful. He was nominated for a Best Director Oscar. The film also brought Singleton an Academy Award nomination for his writing, as well as a New York Film Critics Circle Award, an MTV Movie Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award and two ShoWest Convention Awards. He was handed a Locarno International Film Festival award and Black Reel nominations for “Baby Boy” (2001), which marked a return to his South Central roots. Singleton is also known for directing such box office features as “Poetic Justice”(1993), “Higher Learning” (1995), “The Fast and The Furious 2” (2003) and “Four Brothers” (2005, won an Image Award) and for producing the critically acclaimed indie film “Hustle & Flow” (2005), “Black Snake Moan” (2006) and “Illegal Tender” (2007). He is scheduled to helm the upcoming “Tulia” (2008) and “Luke Cage” (2009).

As for his personal life, Singleton and former wife Ghanaian princess and actress Akosua Cyamama Busia (together from October 1996 to June 1997) have one daughter, child-actress Hadar Busia-Singleton (born in 1997). His romantic life has also been linked to Tosha Lewis, with whom he has a 15-year-old daughter named Justice Maya Singleton, model Tyra Banks, Julie Brown (together from 1997 to 2000) and Carmen McLaughlin (dated in 2000).

On August 23, 2007, Singleton was involved in a car accident when he struck and killed a female pedestrian that was later identified as Constance Russell (aged 57). He waited at the scene until police and paramedics arrived. After being questioned, the filmmaker was released.

“He (Singleton) was not cited and appeared to be doing nothing wrong. A person was jaywalking and it was just a very unfortunate accident.” Officer Karen Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department

Kappa Alpha

Childhood and Family:

John Daniel Singleton was born on January 6, 1968, in Los Angeles, California. He was raised in South Central Los Angeles in separate households by his unmarried parents, Danny Singleton, a mortgage broker, and Sheila Ward-Johnson, a pharmaceutical company sales executive. He graduated from Blair High School in Pasadena, California, in 1986. Led by his lifelong passion for comic books and movies, he enrolled at the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television where he majored in their Filmic Writing Program and became a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. He graduated in 1990.

On October 12, 1996, John married Ghanaian princess and actress Akosua Cyamama Busia. Together, they welcomed a baby girl named Hadar Singleton on April 3, 1997. Two months after the birth of their daughter, on June 15, however, the couple divorced. John also has a daughter named Justice Maya Singleton (born on October 17, 1992) with ex-companion Tosha Lewis.

Baby Boy


“I grew up in South Central Los Angeles and went to Hollywood to hang out when I was a kid and a teenager and I developed a love for the power of film. That's what drew me to film school. Cinema was my rite of passage. When I was nine years old, I went to see Star Wars like ten times and I started breaking down how they made the shots and studying how to make a film. And I started making animated films on the sides of notebooks because the power of the moving image was very intriguing to me. That's the power of Hollywood.” John Singleton (on how he became a filmmaker)

As a film student at USC, John Singleton won the school's three writing awards, including the prestigious Jack Nicholson Award for Excellence in Screenwriting, which eventually led to a contract with the influential Creative Artists Agency in his sophomore year. In 1991, Columbia Picture purchased his senior thesis screenplay and also allowed the novice filmmaker to direct it. The result, “Boyz N the Hood,” which depicted life in crime-ridden South Central L.A., became Singleton's feature breakthrough film, earning him two Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. The latter honor created history because Singleton became both the first African-American and the youngest filmmaker (aged 24) cited in the category. Other accolades he received included a New York Film Critics Circle for Best New Director, an MTV Movie for Best New Filmmaker, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association for New Generation and two ShoWest Conventions for Screenwriter of the Year and Directorial Debut of the Year. An urgent, compelling coming-of-age tale starring Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube, “Boyz N the Hood” also brought Singleton major box office success. Budgeted at $7 million, it went on to become one of the top-grossing features ever made by a black filmmaker.

Following the auspicious debut, Singleton directed the 1992 Michael Jackson music video “Remember the Time,” featuring Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Iman and Magic Johnson in an Egyptian setting. His follow-up feature, “Poetic Justice,” a modern romance set in tumultuous South Central L.A., followed in 1993 with Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur sharing top billing. While the movie enjoyed strong response at the box office, it was not well-received by critics. After a brief appearance as a fire fighter in John Landis' “Beverly Hills Cop III” (1994), starring Murphy, he had his third outing as writer-director with 1995's “Higher Learning,” which explored relationships at a multi-racial college campus. Like “Poetic Justice,” the movie was also a blockbuster hit, but failed with critics.

For the first time in his career, Singleton was a director-for-hire on his next project, “Rosewood” (1997), which was penned by Gregory Poirier. A historical drama, the film failed to ignite audiences. As for the director, Singleton scored better with critics when he was handed an Acapulco Black Film Festival nomination for Best Director and a Berlin International Film Festival nomination for Golden Berlin Bear. After this, he took on the executive producer duty for the easily-forget feature “Woo” (1998), starring Jada Pinkett Smith.

“Shaft,” a loose remake starring Samuel L Jackson in the title role of the New York City police detective, was Singleton's comeback in 2000. It received modest success at the box office and was noted for Jackson's oppositions with screenwriter Richard Price and producer Scott Rudin. Singleton nabbed a 2001 Black Reel for his direction in the film. Returning to his South Central roots, Singleton then penned and helmed the much more personal “Baby Boy” (2001), a coming-of-age story of a street hustler. Starring Ving Rhames and Tyrese Gibson, the film won a Special Mention from the Locarno International Film Festival and Black Reel nominations for Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted) and Best Director. On why he made “Baby Boy,” Singleton said, “I made this film because I felt that black cinema has become too conformist, too passive. It's like no one's saying anything innovative anymore. It's like the filmmakers just seek to make films that are basically just Hollywood films. There's no new thought. There's no new insight. And I'm always into challenging. You can't be radical about making just a love story or you can try to do something that is hyperviolent. I'm not for that either. I'm for new thoughts, new perceptions, different types of people within a film, character explorations. I feel it's great that so many of these “safe movies” have come out in the last few years because Baby Boy is going to hit them real hard, like a brick in the head. It's an off-kilter end of 'The Boyz N the Hood.'”

2003 saw Singleton direct Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson in “The Fast and The Furious 2,” the highly anticipated installment to the 2001 sleeper thriller “The Fast and the Furious.” The same year, he also made a short appearance in the Mario Van Peebles spoof “Baadasssss!” Next up for Singleton, he lent his producing talent to “Hustle & Flow” (2005), a critically acclaimed independent film which featured an Academy Award nominated performance by Terrance Howard. Later that same year, he directed Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Garrett Hedlund and André Benjamin in the drama “Four Brothers,” which despite garnering mixed reviews, was a blockbuster hit. For his direction, Singleton was awarded a 2006 Image award in the category of Outstanding Directing in a Feature Film/Television Movie, in addition to other award nominations. The owner of the New Deal Productions company then produced the Samuel L. Jackson vehicle “Black Snake Moan,” directed and written by Craig Brewer who had previously worked with him in “Hustle & Flow” in 2006 and director-writer Franc Reyes' “Illegal Tender” in 2007.

This fall, the 39-year-old director is set to begin shooting “Tulia,” a legal drama reuniting Halle Berry with her “Monster's Ball” costar Billy Bob Thornton. The film will be released theatrically in 2008. He will also direct the upcoming action flick “Luke Cage” (2009), based on the Marvel Comics of the same name.

“I'm gonna get Cage made. We just need to get a script for it. We're looking for people who write for action, you know, for a character who's like The Pretender or something like that. (Cage) is supposed to be like, you know, a character who's basically like Superman, you know what I mean? He comes in and some people are after him. And, you know, he escapes from Riker's Island. We need someone who can play the character, basically, with some power behind him, like Ving Rhames or Laurence Fishburne.” John Singleton


  • Image: Outstanding Directing in a Feature Film/Television Movie, “Four Brothers,” 2006

  • Acapulco Black Film Festival: Career Achievement Award, 2001

  • Locarno International Film Festival: Special Mention, “Baby Boy,” 2001

  • MTV Movie: Best New Filmmaker, “Boyz n the Hood,” 1992

  • ShoWest Convention: Screenwriter of the Year, 1992

  • ShoWest Convention: Special Award, Directorial Debut of the Year, 1992

  • New York Film Critics Circle: Best New Director, “Boyz n the Hood,” 1991

  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association: New Generation, 1991

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