Hollywood is mourning the loss of John Singleton, who died at 51 on Monday after suffering a stroke.
Angela Bassett, who starred in his debut movie Boyz N the Hood in 1991, spoke with Extra at the Chanel Tribeca Film Festival dinner, where she remembered the director as a “visionary.”
“My prayers are with his family, his wonderful family, his beautiful children, one that I was working with on ‘911’ recently," she said. “I just sat with John about a month ago. That enthusiasm, that vision, that pride that he exhibited that he carried with him always ... he was so good to filmmakers, to actors. He really was a collaborator, such a visionary.”
Boyz N the Hood earned Singleton Oscar nominations for directing and writing. At just 24, he was the youngest director ever to be nominated, and the first African-American director to be nominated.
Bassett looked back at that time as “a seminal moment in Black cinema ... in cinema, for filmmakers to tell their stories and tell stories about our culture in an authentic and powerful way.”
Reminiscing, she continued, “I was new to Los Angeles and doing a lot of television ... John was a young filmmaker, a couple months out of USC, and he was open to me coming into the audition process. We struck up a vibe and a conversation and just fell in love with him from that moment on.”
Bassett said she will miss “his enthusiasm. Whenever he saw you ... He would just talk a brief moment, and he would get so excited.” She added, “He loved his people, he loved his work, he loved his community, he loved South Central ... Proud Angeleno, proud brother, and stone-cold director.”
Last week, Halle Berry shared her thoughts on Singleton with Extra, saying, “I’m just heartbroken, he’s one of the good guys. He paved the way for so many people and artists of color, I know for me he did, and he has been someone special in my life."