While Singleton was attending the Film Writing Program at USC, he won three writing awards from the university, which led to a contract with Creative Artists Agency during his sophomore year. He was also a recipient of the Jack Nicholson Award in 1989 and 1990 and the Robert Riskin Award in 1989. USC School of Cinema-Television invited him to speak at the 2006 Commencement, and he received the Mary Pickford Alumni Award in May 2006.
Singleton exploded onto the scene with his first film, “Boyz N the Hood” (1991), a tough, intelligent, plain-speaking look at friends in gang-ridden South Central L.A. That earned him Oscar nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director, becoming the first African-American (and the youngest filmmaker) ever to do so. Singleton has won numerous awards such as the LAFCA New Generation Award in 1991 and the MTV Movie Award for Best New Director in 1992 (the Award for Directorial Debut of the Year “Boyz In the Hood”). He has also directed a few television commercials for Coca-Cola and AT&T with D. L. Hughley.
Singleton directed “2 Fast 2 Furious,” starring Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris, in Miami and “Four Brothers,” starring Mark Walhberg, Tyrese Gibson and Andre 3000, in Canada. Both projects were summer hits. “Baby Boy,” a film he wrote, produced and directed, also starred Tyrese Gibson along with Ving Rhames, Snoop Dogg and newcomer Taraji P. He also wrote, produced and directed the remake of the ’70s classic “Shaft,” starring Samuel Jackson, for Paramount Pictures. Before that, Singleton wrote, produced and directed “Higher Learning,” starring Omar Epps and Laurence Fishburne, and wrote, produced and directed “Poetic Justice,” staring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakkar. Singleton also produced and funded the independent film, “Hustle and Flow,” starring Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson and Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson. This film went on to receive an Academy Award for Best Song of 2005 entitled “Its Hard Out Here For a Pimp.”
Singleton broadened his scope when he produced a Latin-flavored project entitled “Illegal Tender.” Filming took place in Puerto Rico, and the movie released in 2007, distributed by Universal Pictures. He also directed the action film “Abduction,” starring actor Taylor Lautner, which was released in 2011 by Lionsgate Studios.
Singleton has directed the American crime story series entitled “The OJ Simpson Trial” and episodes of “Empire.” He is currently working with FX on his television production entitled “Snowfall.” He is also working on his female driven project “Rebel” for BET.
Singleton has recently taught “Film and Culture” at USC film school. He is on the Board of the Western Directors Council, Member of University of California SCA Alumni Development Council, and the Academy Film Scholars – Institutional Grants Committee.