Just one year later, he released the critically acclaimed Boyz n the Hood, which earned him an Oscar for Best Director. He was the first African-American and the youngest person to score a nomination in that category (he scored one for Best Writing, as well).
“[Studio executives say] ‘We’re going to take your stories but, you know what? You’re going to go starve over here and we’re not going to let you get a job,’” Singleton said. “The so-called liberals that are in Hollywood now are not as good as their parents of ancestors.”
Following 2001's Baby Boy, Singleton made his mark on the Fast and Furious franchise by directing the second installment, 2 Fast 2 Furious, starring Paul Walker, Eva Mendes and Devon Aoki, among other big names.
At his 2003 Walk of Fame ceremony, the actor gave a heartfelt speech about following his passion.
"I've wanted to make films since I was 9 years old. It was my lifelong dream," he shared. "If I wasn't a director I don't know what else I would be. Anybody that knows me … they all know that this has been my life's dream to do what I'm doing now. My life's dream is to make films, the films I want to make that come straight from my soul."
Before his death, Singleton was working as a writer, director and producer on the FX series Snowfall, which centered on his beloved Los Angeles. (Here, he's pictured with stars Michael Hyatt and Carter Hudson and co-creator Dave Andron.)
Regina King, who had a breakout role in Boyz n the Hood, was one of many stars to honor the director following his death.
“Rest In Power, my friend. One of the greatest to ever do it. Thank you GOD for blessing us with this gift better known as John Singleton,” she said on Instagram. “Having trouble finding enough words to share just what you mean to me. Will always love you John! Your spirit will forever shine bright.”
Boyz n the Hood star Angela Bassett shared memories of the director's impact, too.
"I met John as a recently graduated first-time writer/director embarking on his nascent film career. I will forever remember him fondly from our first meeting during the audition process," she said. "He exuded many things that day...awareness, openness and above all, enthusiasm!"
She added, "Over the years, he never lost or left any of that behind. He provided and possessed a clarity of vision that I appreciate from that day till this. He gave a voice and an opportunity to many. Count me in that grateful number."