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This past Tuesday, a rather trendy diverse group of Atlanta’s seasoned and rising entrepreneurs, entertainment professionals and filmmakers made their way into The Gathering Spot to celebrate the 25th anniversary of John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood. The Gathering Spot is Atlanta’s newest membership social club, bringing together a melting pot group of motivated professionals, creatives and entrepreneurs. This intimate conversation was hosted by veteran music exec Shaka Zulu (Ludacris’s manager) and were joined by high profile celebrities and industry leaders such Ludacris, Chris Tucker, Shanti Das, Rico Wade and Jacob York alongside others.
After a warm up of the dopest LA hip- hop songs spun by the DJ and the tasting of tasty bites such as lobster bites and shrimp, Shaka Zulu brought Singleton on to the stage. Singleton was welcomed with a standing ovation, because just 25 years prior, a first time African -American filmmaker from South Central LA created the now classic “Boyz N The Hood”. The conversation began with John and Shaka joking about Chucks and Nike Cortez sneakers.
John revealed that while attending USC film school, he was inspired by NWA’s album “Straight Outta Compton”, specifically the song Boyz n the hood. At the time, Singleton was a fan of Spike Lee’s film DO THE RIGHT Thing, but longed to tell the story of his city. John soon wrote the Boyz N The Hood script and tried to pitch it to everyone he knew, but he was received one rejection after another. Through John’s shear tenacity, he had the chance to pitch to Russell Simmons, who initially wasn’t interested, but later recognized John’s vision and helped leverage the film to be made.
As the audience was taken on a journey through out Singleton’s eccentric career of over 20 major films, we got an in depth understanding of who he is as a person. Singleton mentioned he has only been star-stuck by two people in life and they were Richard Pryor and Steven Spielberg, whom he later became acquaintances of. John also revealed a few behind the scenes details, such as the fact that Ice Cube was supposed to originally play the role of Lucky (played by Tupac) in Poetic Justice. Also, Jarule was originally chosen to play the role, ultimately played by Ludacris in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and finally ceased the myth that Janet asked Tupac for an Aids test, which was untrue and in fact a macho joke between Tupac and John.
Towards the end of the evening, the audience was allowed to ask questions and one attendee asked “How do we get the filmmaking energy of Atlanta to feel how it seems LA felt when you made Boyz N The Hood ?” The seasoned filmmaker’s reply was simple, “Make films that reflect the narrative of Atlanta.” Singleton, who may be the only filmmaker with an office in South Central, told all of the filmmakers and storytellers in the room to tell their authentic stories apologetically and don’t ever take NO for an answer. The night concluded with John gifting the audience with a sneak peak of the trailer for his next project Rebel, which will be a Fox television series. Although we can’t reveal much, we can say that Singleton is using his art to tackle law enforcement issues, but in an entertaining way.
A Conversation with John Singleton was a collaboration between Shaka Zula, Culture Republic and The Gathering Spot (CEO Ryan Wilson ), because they are all committed to helping foster Atlanta as the next film and entertainment hub of the world.
Stay tuned for more entertainment events at The Gathering Spot.
Courtesy of She’s Vintage