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John Singleton: A Boy From the Hood That Did So Much Good

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I just read that it’s been confirmed by John Singleton’s agents at ICM Partners that he has passed away. The news has shaken me, and I can’t stop crying. No, I’ve never met John, and I’ve never been in his presence. So, like you, I’m wondering why his death has rendered me a blubbering pile of sorrow. Perhaps it’s because we’re close in age and so many in our age group are dying. As I’m sure you know, Luke Perry died last month. And it was also from a stroke! I wasn’t a big Luke Perry fan, but my heart was saddened by his death as well, but John’s death has hit me harder.

The first time I heard the name John Singleton was in 1990 during the filming of Boys n the Hood. I was acting in, producing and directing Reginal Rose’s play Twelve Angry Women in Hollywood. One of the actresses in my play, who went by the name Ceal, had a role in John’s film. She actually had to miss rehearsal because she was filming. The next time I saw her she was bouncing off the walls, telling me and the other cast members what an amazing time she had on set with John and how groundbreaking the film was going to be. I remember it like yesterday when she told us the film would make us laugh and cry. At that moment, I knew I had to see it, and I instantly had mad love and respect for John.

After our play closed, I continued to follow John’s career. I was amused to learn, that like me, he had graduated from USC. When Boys n the Hood came out, I was the first one in line to see it. It blew me away. I saw it a few more times and became a walking billboard for the movie, telling any and all people I know to see it. When twenty-four-year-old John was nominated for best director—becoming the first African American and the youngest person to have ever been nominated for the award—I was blooming with pride. Who knew he would continue to put out one awesome film after another—Poetic Justice, Higher Learning, and Baby Boy. My only regret is that as an actress at that time and now again, I never got to work with him. Nonetheless, I relished the fact that a homeboy had excelled and had taken Hollywood by storm.

John’s journey inspired me as I’m sure it touched countless others. He let me know that your dreams can come true, that it doesn’t matter where you start in life as long as you believe, work hard, and never give up. I believe deep down, I thought John was invincible because he had beat so many odds. I thought he was immortal. But four days ago when it was announced he was in a coma; I got a wake-up call. No, John was not immortal. He was human, like all of us, and susceptible to illness and now death.

I guess it hurts because he was so young. And I believe he had so much more to give in all facets of his life. But who am I to say? God is in charge and like John, one day it will be my time to go, your time to go. His death is a reminder that all of this is temporary. All of our accomplishments are temporary. It makes me want to live life to the fullest. To live my best life. To do what matters, what lasts. Being a good person, being there for others. Giving a helping hand. Leaving a legacy of love and selflessness.

May God bless John’s soul and his family and friends.

I’m crying again!








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Born in Oakland and raised in San Francisco, playwright and author, Alretha Thomas is making her name through her pen. She started at the age of ten, when her 5th grade teacher picked and read her short story assignment in front of the class – that simple, loving act empowered a new writer. A graduate of U.S.C., Alretha’s plays have graced numerous Southern California stages. Her most recent production, “One Woman, Two Lives,” starred Kellita Smith of the Bernie Mac Show. Her debut novel, “Daughter Denied” was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country. Her second novel “Dancing Her Dreams Away,” launched in 2011 and was also well-received. “Married in the Nick of Nine” is her third novel and she recently completed the sequel, “The Baby in the Window.” Alretha says the one and only upside to her 350-mile-a-week-commute, is that it gives her ample time to come up with story ideas. When not in bumper–to-bumper traffic she enjoys going to the movies, blogging, and spending time with her husband Roy.