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On Friday, April 5, John Singleton sat surrounded by fellow storytellers for a candid discussion about artistic vision.
The Oscar-nominated director, on hand to promote FX’s Snowfall as part of The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Emmy season roundtable series, provided the kind of frankness that has long come across in his work. At one point during the hourlong conversation, he and others were asked about the ways in which they were and weren’t like their reputations.
Singleton, who died Monday at 51, seemed tickled by the question. He then proceeded to answer it with the kind of honesty that often set him apart in his work.
“Part of my reputation that I don’t like is that I’m some, like, black militant guy, really serious and I don’t like white people,” he began. “And it’s just like, I think I’m a pretty charismatic dude … I just don’t like people trying to subvert my vision of what I’m thinking. I’m kind of a goofball, I’m funny, I’m self-effacing and everything, but I’m very serious about telling the narrative that hasn’t been told before.”
Singleton, who shot to fame with his pioneering work writing and directing the 1991 film Boyz N the Hood, went on to talk about his South Central Los Angeles upbringing and his long-standing commitment to telling authentic stories about black culture, which occasionally met resistance from white executives in Hollywood. His response to the latter was consistent and unwavering: “You’re not going to fucking tell me what my story is.”
Below is a snippet of that conversation, which would serve as Singleton’s last in a public forum. The conversation will run in full this summer on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter on Sundance TV.