Born in Los Angeles on Jan. 6, 1968, John Singleton went on to graduate from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in 1990, immediately following his passion for filmmaking.

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Just one year later, he released the critically acclaimed

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Though it didn’t earn him any Oscars,

He told The Hollywood Reporter in more recent years that studios weren’t “letting the black people tell the stories” when it came to films depicting the African-American experience.

“[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.”

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Singleton followed his success by directing films like

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Following 2001’s 

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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.”

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Off-screen he was Dad to seven young children: daughters Justice (left), Hadar (right), Cleopatra, Selenesol, Issis, and his sons Maasai and Seven.

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Before his death, Singleton was working as a writer, director and producer on the FX series

In mid-April 2019, Singleton checked himself into a hospital following a trip to Costa Rica after he began experiencing weakness in his legs. He suffered a stroke that left him in a coma, and on April 29, his family announced his death at age 51 after he was taken off life support.

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Regina King, who had a breakout role in 

“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.”

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“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.”

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