Perhaps Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins summed it up best: “Cruel. Not what I want to say right now. But certainly how I feel. Cruel. Just… so cruel.”
Jenkins is one of many celebrities mourning director John Singleton on social media following the filmmaker’s death at age 51 on Monday. Such stars as Chance the Rapper, Janelle Monáe, and Samuel L. Jackson paid their respects alongside many of Singleton’s fellow filmmakers, including Ava DuVernay, Edgar Wright, and Jordan Peele.
Morris Chestnut, who had his breakout role in Singleton’s Oscar-nominated debut Boyz N the Hood, posted a heartfelt tribute to Singleton on Instagram. “John Singleton gave me a chance,” Chestnut wrote, adding, “The magnitude and world-wide impact that his ground-breaking film would have for society cannot be measured.”
Actor and director Forest Whitaker shared his remembrance of Singleton with EW, writing, “We’ve suffered a great loss in the passing of John Singleton. John was a man whose humanity told stories that unveiled truths about our world and our lives. He gifted us with his heart, mind, and spirit. He forever changed the way we look at the world. I hope his family and loved ones can have some peace in knowing he is loved and cherished. May you be held softly and gently in the bosom of god. John Singleton – Rest In Peace.”
Actor Courtney B. Vance recalled working with Singleton on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, in which Vance played Johnnie Cochran.
“I had the tremendous opportunity to work with John Singleton as a director on The People vs OJ Simpson, which became one of the defining moments in my career,” Vance said in a statement. “One of those episodes directed by John titled ‘The Race Card’ opens with an emotional scene of Johnnie Cochran and his daughters being pulled over by an ill-intended police officer, as well as an epic courtroom scene between Cochran and [Chris] Darden where the two men have the ultimate confrontation. As a black man, father, and actor, those were very challenging scenes for me, but they were also so very important to tell the full story of Mr. Cochran, the man and attorney. John understood that and worked with us to bring those scenes to life in the way only he could – unapologetically honest and true. John was truly one of a kind and his voice and presence will be deeply missed. But the spirit of his extensive body of work – and the trails he has blazed for generations of filmmakers – will live on. Thank God for that.”
“I met John as a recently graduated first-time writer/director embarking on his nascent film career,” Angela Bassett said in a statement. “I will forever remember him fondly from our first meeting during the audition process. He exuded many things that day…awareness, openness and above all, enthusiasm! 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.”
Singleton’s family decided to take him off of life support Monday after the filmmaker suffered a stroke earlier this month. At age 24, Singleton became the first African American ever nominated for the Best Director Oscar with Boyz N the Hood, and remains the youngest-ever nominee in that category. He went on to direct such films as Poetic Justice, Rosewood, and 2 Fast 2 Furious, and co-created the FX series Snowfall.
See more reactions and tributes to Singleton below.