Whether he put them on entirely, or simply gave them street cred, John Singleton helped propel the careers of many.
The famed director of Black classics such as Poetic Justice, Shaft and Boyz n The Hood, died Monday after suffering a major stroke. He was 51.
We remember him through his dynamic filmography, and pay him tribute through the lovely beauties that were lucky enough to be captured by his lens.
Angela Bassett, Boyz N the Hood, 1991
When Angela Bassett played Reva Styles, Tre’s mother, in the 1991 Singleton cult classic Boyz N the Hood, we knew she was not to be played with. It was no surprise that she delivered the performance of a lifetime just two years later as Tina Turner, alongside Fishburne’s Ike.
Nia Long, Boyz N the Hood, 1991
When Nia Long played the good girl next door, and Tre’s girlfriend, in Boyz N The Hood in 1991 she was instantly added to the ladies-we-need-to-know list. Today, she’s just as gorgeous and thriving in Hollywood.
Janet Jackson, Poetic Justice, 1993
Janet Jackson started a hair movement that has yet to end. And though we knew the pop singer before Poetic Justice, we didn’t know her as Justice, the no-nonsense taking lyrical wordsmith that put Tupac Shakur in his place.
Tyra Banks, Higher Learning, 1995
When Tyra Banks stepped onto the acting scene as Deja in the 1995 hit Higher Learning, people questioned whether she could even act, or was casted because she was dating Singleton at the time. More than 24 years later, she’s had more than two dozen film and TV roles, including The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Coyote Ugly.
Elise Neal, Rosewood, 1997
Before Rosewood debuted in 1997, Elise Neal had been known for smaller supporting roles. As Beulah, aka Scrappie, she was able to show her chops as the lady that had Mann’s back.
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images
Vanessa Williams, Shaft, 2000
Vanessa Williams had been sought after for a long time before working with John Singleton. But she was every teenage boy’s dream as Carmen Vasquez in Shaft. The blue-eyed gun-toting Vasquez was tough, gorgeous, and able to handle Samuel L. Jackson’s character. We all wanted to be welcomed to the comfort zone. Real talk, we still do!
Taraji P. Henson, Baby Boy, 2001
When Taraji P. Henson was cast as Yvette in the 2001 dramedy Baby Boy, we didn’t know the potential of her star power. But John Singleton did, and the actress has been making magic in Tinseltown ever since. Her recent star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame speaks for itself.
Dennis Leupold for ESSENCE